Financial Advisors, Talk the Talk AND Walk the Walk​

Published February 7, 2022 

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by: The Zoe Team

Financial Advisors, Talk the Talk AND Walk the Walk

Published February 7, 2022 

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by: The Zoe Team

I remember the first time I sat in the same room with a billionaire. The enormous mahogany boardroom table, surrounded by neatly placed leather chairs. People hastily testing the screens and presentations to ensure the meeting was flawless. Just enough tension in the air to guarantee everyone was focused in the moment. Then, a door opened from the side of the room and in walked the power couple. 

There is a lot of significance in first impressions. How you are initially perceived by someone starts the trajectory of your relationship for better or worse. Research shows that within the first 7-10 seconds we make the first impression of a person and it is 76% accurate. While this first moment isn’t the only thing that matters, it is the first thing that matters. We all know the standard tips of smiling, being polite, and eye contact. Whether it is virtually or over the phone, first impressions are vital to building rapport, which leads to trust. 

I have the pleasure of talking with a lot of new people every day, so I’ve started to play a little game with myself. Within the first seven minutes of my conversations, I write down one word that summarizes my impression. I’ve written words like personable, trustworthy, uncomfortable, or annoying. Funny enough, I’ve worked with wealthy people for years now, and yet I still do the exact same thing every time I interact with them. I immediately dropped my gaze to her left hand. I cannot help myself, I’m fascinated by diamonds and honestly like to be impressed. And let me tell you, billionaires’ diamonds are different from millionaires’ diamonds.

First Impressions Are a Two Way Street

I want to make a memorable impression on others, too. I now play the same first impression word game in reverse. What imprint do I want to leave on someone in the first few minutes of our interaction? I want to be known as kind, confident, or professional. There is value in heightening our attention to be conscious of the effects we have on others. When people come across as confident, I immediately want to be more confident myself. Or when someone comes across as unguarded and empathetic, I tend to mirror that and be more open myself. 

A Flawless Pitch Is Not Enough

As the meeting progressed, I remember the anxiety and stress that I had initially felt being replaced with something else, something more unexpected. I had anticipated this meeting to be dynamic, an unmatched educational experience. But to be honest, I was bored. The presentation was informative, but plain. The materials were factual, but dry. I watched the faces of this couple and they seemed politely engaged, but I wouldn’t say they were enthralled. 

Even with a flawless presentation, no missteps in speech, or technological glitches, I am quite certain this couple does not remember that meeting. There was nothing wrong, but also nothing especially right. Meetings are synonymous with boring the majority of the time. But as humans, we all crave a little excitement in our everyday lives. When things are too perfect or too structured, they get boring. 

If I could go back and change one thing to make that meeting more memorable for everyone involved, I’d focus on improving interactions. This does not mean asking if someone has a question and then moving on when no one talks. We all know the disappointment of leading a meeting with minimal dialog and how it can quickly turn into a lecture. Quality interactions cannot be manufactured, but they can be coaxed! 

It’s All About Finding The Right Approach For YOU

I have tried to fabricate better interactions before and failed miserably. Several years ago, I tried starting every new interaction with a compliment. I imagined this would make the other person feel positively towards me and set the tone for a fruitful and productive relationship. By the fifth attempt, I realized that my compliments weren’t genuine and it was painfully obvious to everyone. Genuine curiosity about others cannot be manufactured. You have to position yourself to actually care about what they are saying. Saying you care and actually caring are very different.

Open-ended questions are obviously helpful, but a yes/no question followed up with a ‘why’ question is sometimes better. For example, “Does this sound like something you’d like to pursue further?” Yes/No. “Is there a specific reason why?”
Or maybe it’s just asking questions that are a little less conventional to engage our brains beyond a knee-jerk response.

Instead of “Do you find this information helpful?” Rephrase it to “What about this information stood out to you specifically? And why is that?” It takes time for people to open up and engage in conversations. To make lasting first impressions, digging deeper with questions is an effective way to coax out those extra words.

The Value Beyond The Opening

First impressions are the initial thing that matters in a relationship. However, they are rarely the only relevant ones. Even with a fantastic opening impression, your memory will fall flat unless you can actually back it up with substance. That substance is the most memorable when it involves genuine curiosity about others and significant engagement between you both. 

In the case of advisors, every client or prospect you meet might teach you something new. But there are some people, situations, and contexts that will definitely leave a mark. For me, this is the case with the first time I sat in the same room with a billionaire.  

Disclosure: This blog is not investment advice and should not be relied on for such advice or as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or financial advisors. The observations of industry trends should not be read as recommendations for stocks or sectors.

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