the conversation is the relationship

The number of referrals financial advisors receive from clients is directly related to how often they meet with clients and what they discuss besides their portfolio when they do.

David Whyte, in works like his book The Three Marriages, makes a point about successful relationships. Two people talking about what they hope for, expect, and accomplish together are not having a conversation about their relationship, the conversation is the relationship.

So it is with financial advisors, according to the article “Secrets of Referrals” in Financial Planning magazine this month by Julie Littlechild. The article describes the conclusions of her soon to be released study Anatomy of a Referral.

Her research shows that the kind of communication an advisor has with clients has a significant influence on whether those clients become “engaged.” In her prior research, she established that engaged clients provide practically all an advisor’s referrals.

“Engaged clients have a deep relationship with their advisor” she writes. That relationship grows out of keeping clients focused and on track toward their goals, providing leadership, and soliciting client feedback on the kind of experience they want.  So, it is enormously important to discuss a broad range of clients concerns during meetings taking a long view.  And an objective process of obtaining systematic feedback, including surveys and client advisory boards, is a critical component of your client service plan.

Communication of the right type and frequency is, in large part, the relationship. And maintaining that relationship is the most direct path to engaged clients and more referrals.

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