Finding a way to appropriately discuss a prospect’s finances 

When we go into an appointment, we say, “The quality of my advice depends on the quality of the information you give me. If I’m going to do a global risk management project for your finances, you’ve got to tell me everything.” 


I invented a software; we have 300 formulas working at the same time. I tell the person, “If you tell me something that’s not accurate, for example how much money you have in the bank or how much stock you have, the formula in my program will change accordingly.” We show them the formula on screen. In a way, COVID was really good for us because we were able to present it on screen. At first, let’s say the couple said, “Oh, I have this amount of money in my bank.” The figures and charts on the screen will thus move according to their input. So I told them, “OK. You know what? Your financial ratios are not so good.” And then they start saying, “Actually, I have a bit more money. Can you put that information in? I want to see what happens.” At first, I tell them, “I know it’s an experiment. Maybe this is the first time you’ve dealt with me, why not just tell me whatever you want to tell me.”  


Later in the conversation, as the customer experience gets better and better, they’re more comfortable with my questions. Then they start to say, “Actually, I have a bit more money.” But, of course, when I first designed the program, I knew that when we do compliance fact-finders, one of the first two pages is asking about their income. And it’s a bit rude, even for a financial advisor, to sit down with a prospective client and ask, “How much do you earn?” So I start to talk about expenditure first and then I link it to psychology. I say, “Success comes from habits. So the first part of our analysis is about your habits. Can you tell me what you pay for your utilities?”  


After we go through a very extensive list of the things they spend money on, we have a chat to tell them, I think that it’s good you’re spending this amount of money on this particular thing. I think it’s healthy, but on another aspect of your expenses, it’s not that healthy. Now that we’ve found out your habits, let’s make the analysis more complete. How much do you earn? Let’s look at what is the ratio between how much you spend and how much you earn.” Then they’re already knee-deep into this before saying how much they earn.  It’s a very gradual process, especially for people who are meeting me for the first time.   


Joseph Tan, ChFC, CLU, is a 16-year MDRT member from Singapore. Hear more in the MDRT Podcast: 

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