For many advisors, it will mean an adjustment in how you communicate. Everything about your message will be aimed at how your client thinks, acts and makes decisions. We mean really getting into your clients’ shoes, speaking their language, focusing on their issues and getting rid of a lot of buzz words, jargon and acronyms that are present in much advisor/client communications today.
The standard definition of communication — “the act of transmitting information or the means by which it is transmitted” — ignores one of the most fundamental elements of effective communication: the message must be received and understood.
One way to improve your skills is to recognize some of the differences in communicating with clients of different age groups. For example:
- While a 35-year-old may be ready to talk business after a brief conversation, a 65-year-old may want to spend a little more time getting to know you (and you them) before talking business
- Both the young and the not-so-young use the analytical and emotional sides of our brains, but as we age we tend to make decisions based more on our emotions. This holds true regardless of gender
- Retired clients recognize that good decisions need to be carefully considered and may want more time to think about things. Don’t push
How you can improve the way you communicate with clients of all ages:
- Use plain language and avoid acronyms and other industry buzzwords
- Move your focus away from ‘money’ and tie your advice to life issues, like providing for children and grandchildren, managing health and leaving a legacy
- Involve them in a conversation rather than expecting them to listen to you
- In written communication, use fonts that are easy for everyone to read (no “fine print” or small fonts please!)
- Always speak clearly. If you tend to be a fast talker, practice slowing down; if you have a quiet voice, you may need to speak up
All your clients need and deserve someone to get them thinking and doing the right things, whether they are currently in retirement, getting ready to retire soon or are still years away from it. Your communication style can help them get where they want to go.