By Alan Parisse and David Richman
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
As a financial advisor, would you like to
- Understand and serve your clients better?
- Create clients for life?
- Generate passionate advocates for your financial advice?
- Dramatically boost closing ratios?
So begins Questions Great Financial Advisors Ask, by Alan Parisse and David Richman. At first, two red flags were raised for me: (1) Are they having me memorize some script to use, like a telemarketer; and (2) "Boost closing ratios?" Is this some sales-oriented book masquerading as one written for true advisors? Let me assure you, neither is the case. The book turned out to be a very worthwhile read.
Don't worry—Parisse and Richman aren't trying to get you to memorize a script or go through a checklist of questions with every client. But let's face it: Every once in a while you and I hear an intriguing question that, if asked of a client, would draw out information that we can use to better their lives. This book packages many of those questions in one place.
The tone of the book is indeed written to the "producer," whether an insurance agent or a stockbroker. Yet it is trying to move that individual from a sales mentality to that of an advisor. And that makes the book a valuable resource for those reading this review.
Questions Great Financial Advisors Ask is a lot more than just a list of questions to ask. It's a book on communicating, on reading the prospect or client, on understanding the roots of their behavior, on how to truly be an advisor and not just a salesperson. It helps you understand and guide the wide variety of investing personalities that walk into your office. You'll pick up
- The rights and wrongs of small-talk
- How not to jump to conclusions
- The importance of listening
- How to get to the emotions that drive client attitudes and behaviors
- The need to have a genuine interest in your clients' lives
- The importance of listening
- The need to remove financial jargon from your vocabulary
- How to ask deep, probing questions
- The importance of listening (I trust you got the point)
If you've survived 10 or 20 years in this business, you've figured out how to relate to clients—but you've also learned that there is always more to learn and plenty of room to better yourself. Sometimes we need a refresher. And sometimes we need to pass our skills on to another.
Much of what we do as we interact with clients across the table would be hard for us to explain. Questions Great Financial Advisors Ask does just that, making it useful as you train the next generation of advisors as they observe you or get ready for their first face-to-face meetings.
Newer advisors will find this book invaluable. More seasoned professionals will still find a few ideas that they never though of before—certainly enough to justify the cost.
Gary W. Silverman, CFP®, owns a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the host of the television show Falls Informer, editor of the financial newsletter Personal Money Planning, and a frequent contributor to the print and broadcast media. He also teaches university courses in finance and management.