Are you losing potential clients when they ask what you do for a living?

Clarity. There is perhaps no other messaging priority for financial advisors than providing clarity to your clients and prospective clients.

For many financial advisors, the explanation of what they do for a living is often an improvised and unenthusiastic version of “I provide financial security.” It’s a cryptic opening that often fails to engage a prospect and halts a broader discussion — which means the opportunity for a follow-up meeting passes you by.

There’s a solution to this going-nowhere start, though. A well-designed answer to “What do you do for a living?” communicates to your clients why they want to buy life insurance, said eight-year MDRT member and Top of the Table qualifier Emily Prendiville, CLU, ChFC, in her 2015 MDRT Annual Meeting presentation.

Prendiville, of Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, outlined a structure for crafting an explanation of services (EOS). A compelling EOS has three parts:

  • Statement of fact
  • Description of what you offer
  • Questions that elicit a positive response

Let’s break them down in more detail.

Part 1: Statement of fact

The first part of an effective EOS, the statement of fact, is a sentence or two that distinguishes your work. Avoid generic descriptions (“I’m a financial planner”) that risk placing you among a massive group of professionals. Instead, opt for a description that is more value-based. Try this more interesting approach:

“I help people understand how they can prevent the loss of thousands of dollars due to inefficient wealth management strategies.”

Part 2: Description of what you do

The second part of the EOS provides a concrete example of what you do and is designed to be the most impactful. “Separate yourself from everyone else they know in the industry,” Prendiville said, and “describe the type of work you passionately do for your clients.” If you’re familiar with the prospect, she says, consider customizing the answer to align with their interests. For example:

“When using our unique strategies, we are able to find tens of thousands of dollars lost to inefficient traps in wealth accumulation. Last year, we identified $40,000 to $50,000 per household, on average.”

Part 3: Question that elicits a positive response

End your EOS with a question that is likely to lead to a follow-up meeting, such as the following:

“If I were to discover more than $10,000 that you are losing due to inefficient management, would you allow me to explain why that’s happening and how you could prevent it?”

Such a proposition provides a compelling reason for a prospect to agree to a follow-up meeting.

Once you have crafted the three elements, practice your EOS, record it and listen to it to ensure a polished delivery.

“You must be able to say your EOS with enthusiasm and conviction,” Prendiville said. It’s the first step to broadening your base of likely prospects and building your business.

Read more in Prendiville’s meeting presentation, “Set the stage: Life insurance is not a need — it is a want.” 

Learn more communication ideas that attract clients

  • Boost clients’ interest in minutes” — Watch this two-minute video to learn how to better answer the question “What’s happening?”
  • Selling dreams, not products” — Sell your ideas more persuasively than you’ve ever imagined with this Annual Meeting presentation from communications coach Carmine Gallo.


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