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Mel Kenny: Be famous in your clients’ eyes not an extra

I was recently reading about how, when you are famous, people want to know you but when you lose your fame you are on your own again. Quickly dropped. The phone no longer rings, the emails dry up. You can hear a pin drop.

This can happen in financial services too. In a client’s eyes, their financial adviser is famous, the star of the show; the one who can reassure and steer in other directions if need be.

However, if they become slow to respond or act in way that is perceived to be not showing mutual love, they too can be dropped by the masses. The phone will ring less, the emails will reduce to round robins, they will quickly become a Barry from Eastenders: reduced to an extra.

It can happen unintentionally. When there are unavoidable elongated advice processes that are not communicated about in advance or when client bases are too big, clients can feel like they are the extra.

They may feel like the adviser’s best efforts are being reserved for someone else, even if this is not the case. The key is how to manage that misconception. The importance of providing an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of advice should not be overlooked.

When speaking to a group of students recently, I told them one of the biggest challenges in our work is to convey some very technical stuff in a digestable way that does not gloss over the work involved but, equally, does not overwhelm or bore the client either.

It is about telling clients you would be absolutely delighted to help and conquer all that lies before you, without conveying the fear of mounting back office obstacles that can swirl around your head.

Outside of work, I recently ran a drawing competition for children and have been told it has changed the world of the entrants who had their worked displayed, especially those who got ‘best in category’. Their parents, grandparents, friends, and wider family all know about it. And my name is now mentioned in many circles. Such a simple way to make a big impact.

For grown-ups, it is solving life problems or making life easier, reassuring and showing hope that can get them talking. But then the questions more often than not have to be asked: Now the problem is solved, how does that make you feel? You must feel really reassured? Is it a weight off your mind? And so on.

Children do not need to be asked. The emotion is there for all to see and everyone gets to know about it. Grown-ups need to be helped along. It is not easy asking the questions but we all have a way we can ask that feels natural. And we should ask that question, otherwise we are missing out.

Because after telling you, there is a good chance they get into the habit of telling others how you are that go-to person, and it confirms it in their head. It is the difference between being famous or being an extra.

Mel Kenny is a chartered financial planner at Radcliffe & Newlands   

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