FORUM Magazine - February 2020

Page 20




I’ve interviewed more than 800 professional women worldwide in the past decade. My interviewees are diverse in terms of age, industry, geography, ethnicity, and profession. These women are smart, successful, and aren’t shy to share information about how they built their businesses and broke barriers to get to the next level of success. Let’s look at three lessons junior- to mid-tier advisors can use to apply to their own practices.

Barbara Stewart, CFA

1. COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY Advisors need to pay better attention to client preferences. Some don’t take the time to ask their clients how they prefer to communicate, and this seemingly little thing can make or break client satisfaction. In today’s world, we have so many choices when it comes to modes of communication, and our preferences are personal. We need to ask each and every client individually: Do you prefer a phone call, email, text, direct tweet, a message over Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Skype call? You need to meet people where they are. Besides preferences, do clients truly get what your plan is for their financial challenge? Corinne Ways is an advisor at CBC Banque Privée in Brussels, Belgium. When I spoke with her, she pointed out that if clients don’t understand your financial strategy, business doesn’t get done. As she puts it: “In my work advising private clients on their investments, I try hard to use plain language. Many advisors talk in technical jargon because they want people to think that they are a ‘professional,’ but if the client doesn’t understand the strategy they won’t do anything! The secret to my success is that I know that both men and women prefer to learn through stories or clear examples. I never focus on pricing or technical terms; just the concept. The client-advisor relationship works well when there is good communication.” 20 FORUM FEBRUARY 2020

How can you improve your practice — and yourself? Barbara Stewart, CFA, reports on her findings from successful women around the world

Sharing stories can also aid with communication. April Tan is with COL Financial Group in Manila, Philippines. She finds that sharing personal stories helps to build trust. She says: “I’ve been with the same firm since 1996. We are the largest online stockbroker and Philippines-based stockbroker on the Philippine Stock Exchange, with 70% of the retail clients in this country. We try hard to engage our clients by teaching them about the importance of investing in stocks and sharing stories about the companies rather than only talking about financial ratios.” Ways encourages her clients to let her know how they feel. She notes: “One of my clients received a tip about a big supermarket in Belgium, but she told me she was reluctant to buy the stock because she prefers buying her own basics from the local discounter. She thought others would probably feel the same way and it made her uncertain about investing in the company. She didn’t want to invest in something that she didn’t understand. Most people don’t need a complicated strategy; they need one that makes sense.”

April Tan

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