Data chart on laptop

Misplaced Assumptions

I admire your devotion to your profession.  I’m also impressed by your credentials and your commitment to continuing education.  You can’t be a competent advisor unless you have a firm understanding of the data underlying your investment philosophy.  Based on my experience with many advisors, you can check this box as completed.

Because you’re comfortable with data, you may believe it’s of interest to prospects and clients.  It may be, but there’s a simple way to find out for sure:  Ask them.

Before you launch into a discussion of why you believe in smart beta, replete with charts and graphs, ask this question:  Would you be interested in the data underlying our investment philosophy?  You may be surprised at the number of negative responses you receive.

Don’t confuse your belief that prospects and clients should be interested in this information, with justifying an extended discussion of it. Some will want an extended discussion. Others will tell you they trust you to do right by them and have no interest in “getting into the weeds.”

I recently consulted with an advisor who told me he was overwhelmed with the number of quarterly meetings he needed to schedule with clients.  I asked how he knew his clients wanted to meet quarterly.  He told me he advised them during the onboarding process that he would meet quarterly.

I encouraged him to survey his clients to determine how often they wanted to meet.  A sizable number responded that they would prefer to call him when they had a questions and didn’t want to have fixed dates for meetings.  Others preferred to meet less frequently.  Only a minority wanted to continue meeting quarterly.

As an advisor, you have asymmetric knowledge.  You know more about investing and financial planning than your clients.  It’s not much of a leap for you to believe you know what’s best for them.

You may, but only they understand what works for them. 

Make a list of the assumptions you are making about prospects and clients. Question the validity of each of them. 

Don’t “assume” your assumptions are correct.

Resource of the Week

This article discusses the dangers of making assumptions.

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