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Be the Advisor Your Client Wants You to Be

How to empower anyone to invest fearlessly.

Financial advisors have a tremendous number of people who depend on them, and that creates a huge amount of expectations to fulfill.

Your colleagues and business partners expect you to be a team player who helps keep the business running smoothly.

Your spouse or significant other expects you to maintain the right kind of work/life balance so you can be effective at home in addition to building a great business.

Your employees expect you to be a leader worth following.

Your kids expect you to be someone who’s there for them and teaches them about life, including how to be financially educated.

Your mom expects you to do the right thing and practice what she taught you growing up.

Even your dog expects you to work efficiently so you can get your work done and throw a ball around in the yard.

That’s a big list. And it barely scratches the surface of all the people who rely on you.

In fact, it’s missing one critically important group of people: Your clients.

Clients choose advisors (or leave them) all kinds of reasons. (See: Top Five Reasons Clients Fire Their Advisor). Great advisors know that it’s a constant uphill battle to stay on the right side of those ACAT forms, and it’s all about setting client expectations. Let’s look at the four qualities clients want from their advisor—and how they can help you empower them to invest fearlessly.


Investors don’t want cookie-cutter advice. They want someone who knows their situation, understands their needs, and gives them the confidence to stick to their goals.

In one survey, 97% of investors said they chose their RIA because their advisor took the time to get to know them and their unique financial situation on a personal level.1

For the clearest example of how getting personal resonates with clients, just think about how the financial services industry used to predicate investment recommendations on broad stereotypes.

In far too many cases, clients weren’t treated like individuals. They were stereotyped with subjective semantics like “moderately conservative.” But when dark clouds gathered on the horizon, those labels didn’t do much to quell their fears.

A more personal approach that defeats stereotypes and treats clients as individuals, though? That’s a quality investors are looking for in their advisor.

When a client is invested correctly and their advisor has taken time to communicate with them about how and why their portfolio was built to support their goals, those clients are less likely to panic call their advisor when the going gets tough.

Getting personal with clients and assessing their individual fears, beliefs, and level of financial literacy is a sure path toward earning their trust and giving them confidence.


It’s said that we live in a 24/7 news cycle now, but the rate of news is so fast that it might be more accurate to say we live in a 1,440/1 news cycle. There are 1,440 minutes in every day, and it feels like new information is thrown at us during every single one of them.

When clients feel overwhelmed, it’s easy for them to feel confused and uncertain.

And it’s not just a constant news cycle that can shake the confidence of a client. Sometimes, even their well-meaning advisor can do that.

When a client gets a 50-page report with a table of contents, or maybe a lecture on Sharpe ratios until their eyes glaze over, they aren’t being educated—they’re being bored into submission.

Here’s the truth of the matter: Clients want information, and they want to talk to their advisors about their financial lives. But they want to do it on their terms.

In a recent survey, investors ranked the following as the top issues they wanted to talk with their advisor about: Investments, retirement income, retirement planning, the impact of current economic events, and life-stage information relating to their financial health.

In short: If it affects their money in any way, advisors want to talk to their advisor about it.

The key, however, is that they want to be informed on their terms. Simplifying complex concepts creates confident clients.

Here’s how that looks in practice. The next time a client wants to talk about expectations for retirement income, their advisor talks them through how to know what a “normal” range looks like for their portfolio. They use real dollars, and show a few simple visuals to help illustrate the range. It’s all jargon-free information that any client can readily understand.

Expectations: Set. Confidence: Secured.

Honesty and transparency go hand in hand, and they’re both major reasons why clients ultimately decide on their financial advisor.

One way that transparency can be easily shown is in how an advisor charges fees. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and we all know that there’s many more ways for an advisor to charge fees.

Some advisors swear by hourly, others love the idea of Netflix-like subscriptions, and then there’s the old industry standards of fee-based or even fee-only.

However you charge fees, the important part is to make your fee structure readily available and easy to understand. One survey of high-net-worth clients found that 70% said a transparent fee structure was critical to their selection of an advisor.2

And advisors think that transparency has the same effect—87% agreed that their clients chose them due to it.3

So it seems we’re all in agreement here. The best way to make clients feel at ease is to simply be open and honest about everything (especially fees).

When clients understand you’re on their side, when they’re treated like the individuals they are, when they know a thing or two about their wealth — that’s powerful. But there’s no greater force for bringing aboard the best clients who stick around for the long haul then when you can empower them to invest fearlessly. 

And it all starts with risk. You see, when advisors aren’t afraid to talk about risk, investors aren’t afraid to make the right decisions.

When you quantify how much risk a client wants to take on (risk tolerance), how much risk they need to take in order to reach their goals (risk capacity), and how much risk they have in their portfolio (analytics), only then are you able to propose just the right amount of risk they should have.

That’s how you’re able to set clear expectations for investors. Knowing exactly how much risk is in their portfolio arms both the client and their advisor with the confidence to make informed decisions based on standards of predictability. They understand what is normal for their portfolio, and now they can give themselves permission to “hang in there,” even if markets are volatile.

And it works. Take it from Shay, an Advisor in Florida:

“Now that my clients know their Risk Number and understand their 95% Historical Range™, my phone no longer rings off the hook when markets are volatile.”

Grow Your Business. Incite curiosity with the five most powerful words in fintech: What is your Risk Number? See for yourself how risk-aligned proposals turn into ACAT forms in the blink of an eye.

Set Great Expectations. Retain clients for life when they know you’re treating them like the individual they are. When they know their risk profile, they can make fearless investing decisions for life.

Document Your Fiduciary Care. You know you’re acting in your client’s best interests, but when you can prove it quantitatively, you’re winning with your clients and the regulators as well.

Are you ready to be the advisor your clients want you to be?

Read some great stories about how great advisors are empowering their clients to invest fearlessly.

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