Guy Mason of Simitri explains the importance of developing a connection with clients and building trusted relationships – and explains some of the techniques for achieving this.
Date: Jan 2010
The concept of a “trusted adviser” is very relevant to the world of private banking, especially given how many Asian clients have multiple bank accounts.
Defining a “trusted adviser”
To explain this further, the ingredients start with the need for trust. Then the client and banker need to like each other. And finally, the banker has to place the combination of trust and liking over his or her own interests.
If a client thinks that his or her banker is merely there to sell product and earn a fee, then Mason said the banker will not be able to become a trusted adviser to that client.
Trusted advice in practice
To explain the value of being a trusted adviser, Mason gave an example of a former private banker he knows who set up his own advisory firm.
Mason said this person does portfolio reviews for his clients on their yachts or at their homes at a weekend, for example.
He is able to build such strong relationships with his clients because, explained Mason, he said he never invests a client’s money in any asset in which he himself doesn’t invest. As a result, the banker and client can share in the upside and commiserate with each other in downward-moving markets.
When to call a client
The time when relationship managers (RMs) need to talk to their clients is not when investments perform well, warned Mason.
Instead, because investing so emotional, RMs need to call their clients when markets are falling and performance is not as good as the client expected.
Since the number-one goal for the majority of private clients is to protect their own wealth, Mason said advisers should communicate with and reassure their clients when there is the slightest doubt or negativity around portfolio or investment performance.
Doing these things at the right time contribute to building trust adviser status, said Mason.
Yet difficult market conditions are often the times when the banker stops communicating with his or her client.
The importance of rapport
Mason said RMs should also not underestimate the power of building rapport as part of becoming a trusted adviser.
Too many RMs go into initial meetings with clients without thinking about building rapport, and prefer to immediately enter into a business discussion. Yet building rapport is critical as part of every meeting, said Mason.
To do this, RMs should take the time to think about things they have in common with their clients, or that are relevant to them.
In an example Mason gave of building rapport, he was able to achieve this by talking to his potential client about the client’s Canadian background.
Mason had gathered some background information from the reception of his client’s offices before the meeting, so referred to it and guessed the client’s nationality as a way to establish a connection.
Other techniques Mason said were effective in this example included saying hello with a smile, being the first to gesture to shake hands, and calling the client by his name.
Even if a client wants to get down to business, Mason said an RM should still try to build rapport.