Working with a Confused Client

Alexa Bricker

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The financial world can be tricky to navigate. It’s notoriously complex, and for the average investor (especially those who are just getting their feet wet) sitting down with a professional can bring about a lot of anxieties.

As an advisor, it’s your job to help ease some of those fears and explain things in a way that is much simpler to understand; but that can be a challenge in itself. Identifying when a client is confused it the first step. Having a grasp on their experience and level of knowledge going into your meeting can help, too.

Not sure where to start or what to look for? These tips can help.

Pay attention to body language.

It can be difficult to admit when we don’t understand something, especially when it comes to our finances—a topic we, as adults, think we need to be well versed in. But even if we aren’t speaking up about our confusion, our bodies can tell a different story. Behaviors like rapid breathing, fiddling with jewelry or hair, and excessive yawning can all be signs of being uncomfortable and confused. Keep an eye out for these signs, and be sure to pause the conversation to ask a client if they need more explanation.

The know it all doesn’t know it all.

Sometimes clients who don’t understand an issue will overcompensate by acting as if they actually know it all. A client may do this in the throes of your meeting, and then will come back with a million questions later on. Instead of calling them out, speak to them as if they do understand, while also making sure you explain what they don’t understand in detail. This can prevent uncomfortable tension while still giving them the information they need.

The financial newbie.

Young people make up the overwhelming majority of the market, but only a small percentage will remain with their parents’ financial advisor. You need to handle millennial clients completely differently, as they are less trusting of advisors than previous generations and more likely to have done research on the markets on their own. Be prepared to explain how the information they found online can’t compare to the invaluable insight that you, as a professional, can give them to build their portfolio. Explain your strategy in detail before making any decisions, and expect them to be involved in the decision-making process.

Working with confused clients can be intimidating, but is part of what will make you a trusted advisor. Ultimately, easing client’s concerns in whatever way possible should be the goal, no matter their level of understanding.

Written by Alexa Bricker

Creative writer who believes in the power of a well-told story and helpful content.