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Small Actions Lead to Trust

Tips that help build long-term client relationships.

Carl Richards, 05/29/2014

Like many of you, I watched Michael Lewis discuss his new book, Flash Boys, on 60 Minutes. While the story of high-frequency trading was interesting, what really caught my attention were two lines that came at the end of the interview.

Brad Katsuyama, the founder of IEX, said, “We’re selling trust. We’re selling transparency. To think that trust is actually a differentiator in a service business, it’s kind of a crazy thought.” Lewis then added, “When someone walks in the door who is actually trustworthy, he has enormous power. And this is the story, the story of trying to restore trust to the financial markets.”

Think about those last two lines for a minute. Now, can you think of a single client who doesn’t put a high priority on being able to trust you?

The financial industry doesn’t have the best public profile, and for the most part, it comes down to a lack of trust. Financial professionals are seen as trying to game the system or protect their interests before their clients’. It’s not an easy road to navigate, particularly when advisors and their clients aren’t in sync.

In a recent article for Advisor Perspectives, a colleague of mine at BAM Alliance, Dan Solin, wrote, “Many advisers believe their knowledge and expertise is paramount. I have spoken to a number of prospects who disagree.” He adds, “They approach a new relationship with an advisor with great skepticism. Their primary concern is whether their money will be safe. Unless you recognize that concern and deal with it, you are unlikely to win new business.”

If you’re serious about building your business, few things will have a greater impact than making it easier for clients to trust you. But trust doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Trust is built through small actions repeated over and over.

One way you can measure that trust is whether your clients refer their friends and family to you. Dan Sullivan, president of The Strategic Coach, calls this “referability,” and he identifies four habits that will sound so easy: 1) Show up on time. 2) Do what you say. 3) Finish what you start. 4) Say please and thank you.

The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.

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