There's a piece in the trust equation, around how we communicate in the financial planning industry, that's missing. And that missing piece, what we say or don't say, and what we do or don't do, has a big impact on what people think.
Of course there's many things that influence trust. But this one might not be as obvious as some of the others.
It's saying things like, "Everyone needs a financial planner".
It's saying the solution you offer -- the thing you're trying to sell -- is the only valid option.
It screams "salesperson", not "adviser".
So what's the alternative?
It’s a financial adviser explaining that for people in simple situations, following X fundamental concepts and behaviours will get them 80% of the way there.
It’s a risk adviser sharing what direct insurance policies they think aren’t rubbish; what people and circumstances they might suit; and the trade-off between going direct and getting advice.
It’s an industry association promoting the benefits of financial planning, without pitching their members or qualification as the primary selection criteria for consumers.
Something very powerful happens when a group or individual acknowledges that their solution isn’t the only solution. And I don’t mean in the, “you're not in our target market or can't afford us” way.
It communicates confidence, yet shows humility. It shows alternatives as options, not competition. It acknowledges people have different needs, desires and circumstances, and one size does not fit all. It demonstrates an attitude grounded in respect for the client.
And it builds trust.
“I believe that everyone needs a financial plan and whether you do that on your own and you do your own research, or whether you partner with an adviser, it’s up to you.”– Claire Mackay
Do you see how that statement helps you trust Claire? She doesn’t say, “Everyone needs a financial planner” or, “Why wouldn't you get financial advice?”.
It communicates a deeper set of values and beliefs. She doesn’t hate on the alternatives. She treats her audience as intelligent, capable people. It oozes respect.
As business owners, we all want people to buy what we’re selling. And as financial advisers, you’re passionate about your process and the outcomes you can achieve.
You want to help people. You do help people. You have others' best interests at heart.
But BS detectors start flashing warning lights and sirens when people are told the thing you're selling is the only viable option.
So take a step back, acknowledge the alternatives, and help people choose what's right for them -- even if you don't think it's ideal or it sends them towards a competitor.
Help them take a step forward, no matter how small.