By Scott West and Mitch Anthony
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
Gary Silverman owns a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the editor of the financial newsletter Personal Money Planning, and writes the newspaper columns Your Money and Your Business.
The subtitle to Your Client's Story is "Know Your Clients and the Rest Will Follow." The concept this subtitle mentions should not be a shocker. Ask your clients questions; talk little, listen a lot; and be genuinely interested in the answers. Yet, no matter how much we know this, we all can get better.
The book's dust jacket purports that the book will allow you to:
Connect with anyone, anywhere
- Determine what makes each client or prospect unique
- Shorten the time it takes to forge an unbreakable bond with your client or prospect
- Become a trusted "100 percent advisor"
- Help clients use their money to navigate through transitions and toward their goals
While there is some hype in those claims, by and large, the book delivers. Though, after reading the first few chapters, I was not impressed. It seemed that the book spent a lot of time trying to convince me of the importance of getting to know my clients. I was a little insulted. After all, certainly anyone reading this already knows that.
One quote from the book brought me around: "Manipulations abound in the marketplace-and clients continue to develop better radar toward each new manifestation of these manipulations."
It caused me to think back to the times before I entered the profession, when others approached me to manage my money. While I cannot remember the specifics of our conversations, I do remember that they wanted to get to know me-synthetically. Their questions were not a genuine desire to learn about me. They were just positioning me for the kill.
The authors of the book are Scott West and Mitch Anthony. I can't imagine readers of my reviews not knowing Mitch. But if you don't, he is the president of Advisor Insights, a leading relational skills training resource. Scott is less known to me, but he's the senior VP at Van Kampen in charge of marketing. In other words, these gentlemen are experts in the art of selling.
I know, I know ... true advisors don't sell. I also know that's hogwash. You sell yourself, your ideas, and the science of investing to your clients every day. If you're gonna do it, if you've got to do it, if it is in the best interest of your clients that you do it, you might as well do it right.
As West and Anthony write: "While every person's story may not be interesting to you, it is interesting to that individual-and he or she wants to tell it. The problem is, not many people want to sit and hear another person's story. Even rarer is the individual who attempts to cajole the story out of someone. The advisor who acts as biographer will find that clients feel quite connected and loyal to a person who cares enough to seek and hear their personal biography. We believe that a greatly underappreciated, powerful driving force in every human is the need to be known."
As you go through the book, a myriad of examples are given, but in questions to ask verbally, and those to ask via questionnaires. Specifically, they cover the methods of ferreting out information from small business owners, new retirees, young couples, and other client types.
This book will be an excellent text for those newer to interacting with clients. It is also good for more seasoned advisors who like to hone their skills. If you think you are doing good enough, then I doubt this, or any other book, will do you much good.
Dearborn Trade Publishing (2005)