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Not all financial advisors are created equally. While some are perfectly content to buy stocks for their clients and help them fund retirement accounts, others want to go deeper and form a stronger relationship with those they advise. If you’re an advice-based planner and a frequent reader of my blogs, I’m going to bet that you fit into the latter category. If you want to take your relationship with your clients a step further and become a true counselor, here are a few pieces of advice that will help.

Establish a Policy of Transparency and Vulnerability

It’s impossible to effectively counsel your clients if they aren’t being honest and open with you. However, to encourage this, you first have to show that you’re also willing to be vulnerable and transparent. Many advisors equate being vulnerable with being weak, which is why they avoid it. However, being vulnerable is actually a sign of strength and your clients will respond by also sharing more with you. When you establish this mutual trust, it’s much easier to get to the root of problems and to effectively counsel your clients.

Focus on Being Interested

How often do you try to be more interesting to your clients by demonstrating how smart you are and how much financial knowledge you possess? When you do this, you take the focus off where it should be: on your client. When you instead concentrate on being more interested in them, you can learn valuable information about their personalities and how they react to certain situations. As a bonus, the more interested you are in them, the more interesting you will become.

Talk About Subjects Other Than Finances

To be a true mentor to your clients, you have to expand your horizons and what you discuss in your meetings. Should you talk about retirement goals, where to invest, and spending habits? Yes, absolutely. But you should also talk about their childhoods and how this affects their current behaviors, their hobbies, and other areas of their lives that will help you get to know them better and be a more effective counselor. When you open the door to new subjects, your clients will likely respond with enthusiasm and your relationship will deepen.

Don’t Be Tempted to Take on Too Much Responsibility

Becoming a counselor to your clients does not mean that you take on all the responsibility of their decisions. Over-responsibility is not a sign that you care about your clients—it’s a lack of trust in them and their abilities to run their own lives successfully. There’s a fine line mentors walk between helping and overstepping their boundaries. Remember that your job is to listen and offer advice—whether or not your clients decide to take that advice is their responsibility. When you trust your clients to make their own decisions, you not only avoid getting overly involved in their lives, but you also show them the respect they want and deserve.

As an independent financial advisor and true fiduciary, your relationship with your clients should be about more than just their finances. If you want to be a counselor to your clients, try to incorporate the above strategies into your practice and see how it affects your success. Want to talk more about being a mentor to your clients? Get in touch with me so we can visit more.

When you become a mentor to your clients, deeply understand them, and guide them toward a better future, then you’ve learned the ways of a financial caregiver. You’ve come to know what it means to be a true purveyor of advice, and how to use money as a conduit to a more fulfilling life for yourself and those you serve.

Patrick Tucker, owner of True Measure Wealth Management and founder of True Measure Financial Advisors, has over 20 years experience in the industry and has spent the last 15 years learning the ins and outs of the fee-only advisory business. He’s spent over $500,000 finding mentors, studying consulting businesses, taking courses, studying the soft sciences, running trial and error experiments, and learning how to be an entrepreneurial financial advisor. He’s simplified this into an easy to use blueprint for anyone who is entrepreneurial-minded and is tired of the sales culture. Patrick has been able to acquire over $158 million under management with little to no money spent on marketing.