Anthonia Hui of AL Wealth Partners talks about some of the ways that relationship managers can better understand the needs and objectives of their clients, and service them in a way that is in their best interests.
Date: Mar 2010
When relationship managers (RMs) meet a client for the first time, they should not just follow a business agenda, as a lot of clients find this too obvious and can generally see through the adviser’s intentions, said Anthonia Hui in an interview.
Hui said that whenever she makes a call with a potential client, she makes a point of getting to know that individual – by asking various questions about the person’s family and business, rather than mentioning anything about the institution she works for.
She also makes sure to tell the client about herself because she said she thinks it helps her to create the required level of trust and make clients feel more comfortable, especially given they are sharing private information with her.
This involves her introducing herself, for example, and reacting with empathy to certain things the client says.
In a single meeting, she said this approach can help advisers fulfill 95% to 100% of their know-your-customer (KYC) compliance requirements.
Getting to know clients properly
In terms of knowing which questions to ask and how to get to know the customer better, the best method is to talk to them as friends, said Hui.
To do this, advisers should work on their memories and listening skills, she suggested.
Taking the regimented approach of filling out forms or questionnaires to meet the KYC obligations can stifle relationships and any rapport built during the meeting.
RMs who do need to take notes should ask permission so that the client doesn’t feel defensive or like they are being interrogated.
However, Hui said that if advisers talk to clients as they would for anyone they are getting to know then the client’s story will flow and it will be much easier for the adviser to remember the details.
If advisers also interact with the client by adding their own views and experiences, then rapport will build and the client will be more at ease.
Once the client has a feeling that they are talking to someone who wants to get to know them, it builds the first layer of trust, said Hui, and the rest of the relationship can then move forward.
To do this, because clients realise that RMs have a purpose for the meeting, advisers should ask whether their clients have any questions about the institution’s banking services in a way that is not pushing product but just giving the client the opportunity to get more information.
Talking about negative experiences
RMs need to be aware that clients will sometimes talk negatively about previous experiences with other advisers.
Instead of joining in and showing too much empathy, Hui said RMs should just take notes and acknowledge this problem within the industry.
The adviser should then explain to the client how they would deal with a particular situation – which helps the client make their own decisions without the need for the RM to take a hard-selling approach or to push products.
The time to discuss investing
According to Hui, advisers need to do their homework on their clients before they know which products might be suitable for them.
She said the time for RMs to start talking to their clients about investment products and the markets generally is when the client asks the adviser about investing in a certain product, or about the adviser’s view of the market.
However, she warned, nobody is an expert, and often it is those advisers who claim to be experts who end up losing the most money for their clients.
Hui said she often asks clients about their view, rather than falling into the common habit of talking too much by regurgitating information from morning meetings and trying to sell the latest product.
The reason for Hui’s suggested approach is to try to understand the client’s opinion. It also leads to the client asking for the adviser’s view, which creates the permission for the adviser to explain their viewpoint, she explained.
The adviser can then use this opportunity to learn about the client’s investment experience, approach, and likes and dislikes.