Advisor meets with client couple

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

If you’re only asking your clients surface-level questions, you could be missing out on critical information you need to develop the best strategy for their success. We show you how to take seven basic questions a step further with follow-up questions that yield valuable insights.

Question: Have you worked with a financial advisor before?

Follow-up: Why did you choose me?

Regardless of whether a client has worked with an advisor before, the answer to why they picked you tells you what their expectations are for your services: “I know you’ve handled inheritances” or “I like that you’re family-oriented.” It’s also likely they researched other advisors before knocking on your door. Discovering what they preferred about you over someone else, or the reasons they left another advisor, helps you understand their priorities.     

Question: What is your investment experience so far?

Follow-up: What financial topics do you want to learn more about?  

Clients’ investment experiences can vary greatly, as can their own interpretation of how experienced they are. A client might think that following the stock performances of a favorite brand, say Disney or Tesla, qualifies as investment experience. Zeroing in on a client’s financial knowledge is crucial at the outset, and following up with a question related to what a client wants to learn more about lets you guide the discussion within the context of their goals.  

Question: What are your financial goals?

Follow-up: What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime?

It’s a great question to ask: What are your financial goals? After all, you need to know where your client wants to end up financially if you plan to help them get there. And while most clients realize financial planning and investing can help them achieve some of their big-picture goals, like retiring with financial security, they may not realize the impact of financial planning on any goal they may have. Do they want to have a vacation home their children and grandchildren can return to? Maybe they want to travel — now and later in life. The financial decisions your clients make today will help them achieve any goal they may have — and it’s your job to help them get there. 

Question: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Follow-up: What milestones are you planning for?

Asking open-ended questions like “where do you see yourself in five years” is useful. But it might overlook important goals, such as planning for school or making charitable donations. If you can get a client to share a peek into the major milestones that matter to them — aka, their values and how those relate to money — you’ll be able to have a bigger conversation about life priorities in the framework of their finances. 

Question: When do you want to retire?

Follow-up: What would you do if forced into early retirement?

Clients usually have an idea of their ideal retirement age, but this doesn’t take into account how they might feel, or what their plan would be, if they had to retire early or work longer. Asking what a client would do if their ideal retirement scenario didn’t play out as imagined opens the door to a discussion about contingency plans and other acceptable (if perhaps not preferred) outcomes.     

Question: Will you complete this risk assessment questionnaire?

Follow-up: If the market tanked tomorrow, do you see opportunity or threat? 

It’s always good to have clients fill out risk assessment questionnaires, but understanding a client’s true risk tolerance means asking more questions. You need to understand their priorities and goals at all life stages — as in, tomorrow — and not just the far future.  

Question: What are your most pressing financial concerns?

Follow-up: What keeps you up at night?   

A client’s answer to the first question might be intellectual in nature (“having enough money for retirement,” for example), but pushing them to reveal sleepless-night concerns gives you insight into their deeper anxieties. Even more insightful: These aren’t always finance-related; they could be health woes or family matters. Regardless, a client’s true fears bear influence on their financial perspective.

Meaningful Connections

To connect more deeply with your clients, consider transitioning your business to Farm Bureau. Contact us today to learn about your opportunities for growth.