5 Questions Your RIA Clients May Not Know They Should Be Asking

May 1, 2023 | Blog Posts

Are your clients happy with your services as an RIA? What’s making them nervous? Are you in alignment regarding the goals you’re setting or the progress you’re making? Or is there something missing?

As a financial advisor, it’s critical to be astute to the answers to these questions. But often, it’s logistically tough to have these types of discussions. For one, culture has become increasingly digital, extremely fast.

“The pandemic likely sped up the financial industry’s ongoing digital shift by several years, if not more,” wrote Dani Fava for Financial Advisor Magazine.

Given this context, it’s a good idea for advisors to lean into active listening, defined as  “a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding,” explains the United States Institute of Peace.

Here are some questions that clients should be asking you — but likely aren’t.

1. Even though I’m focused on the long-term, am I taking the right steps to fully experience the moment?

The last few years have been tough for a lot of people, understandably. Everyone has had a unique experience with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many households are navigating financial hardship due to economic conditions. It’s no surprise that adults in their formative years are prioritizing the basics.

“Over half of millennials said one of their top three money goals is ‘increasing my income’ (54%) followed by ‘paying down debt’ (42%),” according to a research study conducted by Ameriprise that we recently referenced on the CircleBlack Resources Hub.

“In comparison, 66% of Gen Xers surveyed said ‘saving for retirement’ was their top goal, and boomers reported that “protecting accumulated wealth” (55%) is their No. 1 priority.”

Sometimes, hard-working people need a gentle reminder to relax and fully enjoy life. As someone who provides advice for a living, you’re in a good position (with meaningful life experience) to offer this wisdom in a meaningful context.

2. What is the best way to lean into my family support system?

Many millennials rely on financial help from family — 78%, according to the Ameriprise Study.  But family isn’t transactional. There’s always a give and take. Regardless, it can be awkward to navigate conversations about finances.

As a financial advisor, you’re in a valuable position to moderate tough discussions. While it’s good to maintain distance and objectivity, wisdom is often something families value when navigating tough topics.

Sometimes, it’s simply valuable to hear the reminder, “you’re not alone.”

3. Are there better ways that we can be working together?

Workplace rules are ever-evolving. Especially with the rise of technology, we all have different, personalized standards for how to invest our time and attention. As an advisor, you may have suggestions for improvements or efficiencies. When was the last time you voiced these perspectives?

You never know when a new idea will be well-received. After all, process recommendations are a sign of adaptation to our new digital era.

“The 9-to-5, office-based culture, with its coffee for closers and gong-ringing ceremonies to celebrate new sales is gone,” explained Mike Foy, senior director at J.D. Power in a quote. “In its place, the new generation of mobile financial advisors is interacting with clients and prospects via a range of digital channels including social media, text, chat and video.”

If you discover a new approach, why not share it?

4. What other types of financial services should I be seeking out?

Your clients may not be aware of the many options available for financial services. As an RIA, you maintain a holistic view of your clients’ financial situations — so you have a strong vantage point from which to provide meaningful referrals?

Would it be helpful to work with a financial planner? How about a CPA or estate lawyer?

Remember that your clients are likely working with you to gain a broader perspective with respect to achieving greater financial wellness. Be ready to provide proactive guidance to fellow professionals who can help.

5. What are some of your firm’s skills that I’m not utilizing as an investor?

In our fast-paced world, it can be easy to put people into boxes — especially in professional contexts. Far too common, we overlook the skills, capabilities, and potential of our colleagues.

Are you clients aware of the full value that you bring to the table as a financial advisor?

If not, you might want to speak up and share more about what you can offer.

Final thoughts

In a world where communications move quickly, it’s common to be unaware of questions we should be asking. That’s fine. Conversations can resurface in other constructive ways.

When your clients aren’t asking questions, it’s up to you to make a greater commitment to paying attention to gaps — and responding with empathy.

The key is to be thoughtful, rather than pushy. It’s not about selling services — your goal is to be a true collaborator with meaningful value and insight.

CircleBlack is here to help

CircleBlack is an all in one management platform for financial advisors. We help RIAs communicate and collaborate better with their customers.

To learn how our software can help you build, manage, and grow your financial advisory  practice, get in touch. After reading this article, you may be interested in learning more about our branded app, performance reporting capabilities, and client portal, more specifically.

This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal, or tax advice.

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