Women & Legacy Planning

Put Your Partnering Intelligence in Motion

by Tony DiLeonardi

In previous posts, we've emphasized the importance of building connection with women clients and prospects.  Let's suppose that you've appealed to women clients through a focus on connection and now you're entering the process of building a professional relationship. We typically encounter business terms like landing and retaining the client at this stage. These terms bring to mind the idea of capturing and owning the client. I'm proposing that you shift into a partnership model as your foundation for working with women clients. Women clients commonly prefer to communicate in a cooperative, equality-based manner and this should be reflected in your approach.

Women come to financial services professionals because they need your knowledge and services, so a partnership approach with your client does not diminish your expertise. Rather, you remain the financial expert while working cooperatively at the same time. Recognize that your female client is the expert on her life and financial needs. As the financial professional, you are the expert on products and services she needs in order to meet her goals. You are not above your client as a director, nor are you below her as a subordinate.  Both the financial advisor and the client have equally important roles. The concept of partnering to establish a peer relationship may require significant "de-programming" for most men. As men prefer to operate in a more hierarchical manner, with interaction centered on competition rather than cooperation, embracing the concept of cooperation may have you feeling like a fish out of water if you don't remember the fundamentals of building relationships.

Connecting, building and preserving the relationship are central components throughout the life of the business partnership. There are three fundamental elements to building relationship: Listen, ask and show interest. Listen with a connection focus. When you're in this listening mode, the client does most of the talking. Ask open-ended questions that allow your client to direct the conversation. While you're connecting and building relationship, you also gather financial information. It's a combined process.

In a partnership model, it is important for your client to have a functional understanding of products and services. If you listened well and asked insightful questions, you'll know some important things. You're speaking a common language that you both understand and you're connecting her needs with what you can do for her. You can begin to focus on finding the products and services that meet her needs. You're both working to find solutions, set goals and define success in your business relationship.

Remember that an essential part of a partnership approach employs skills that you already command-being natural and respectful. Or, to more succinctly summarize: "The more honor and respect among the players, the greater the team."