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Client Engagement

How to Spark Client Conversations and Build Rapport as a Financial Advisor

Read Time: 6 Minutes

What’s the most important thing for someone who’s looking for help?

Trust. Reliability.

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful client relationship. According to the annual trust survey by PwC, 74% of consumers say that they consider reliable customer experience to be the most important to them when engaging with businesses.

Success for investment advisors depends on many factors, but ultimately, it all comes down to the client experience—one that a client can rely on. An advisor needs to be able to engage a person on a human level while also providing rational and personalized investment proposals tailored to the client’s tolerance for taking risks.

Indeed, investment planning is a linchpin of every advisor’s offering. According to the US Retirement End Investor 2022 report by consulting firm Cerulli Associates, 96% of investors said the investment selection by a financial advisor is very or somewhat important, higher than any other service provided.

The acute need for trustworthy advice is in part due to a seismic shift over the last 40 years from traditional pension plans to defined contribution plans, also known as 401(k) plans. Traditional plans do the investing for employees and offer defined retirement-income payouts, while 401(k)s leave the responsibility up to the individual.

So basically, most people must now secure their own retirement future. It’s on them to make sure that they can retire on time and have a dignified, comfortable lifestyle after their working years. But even the self-managed crowd has questions and uncertainties that external resources can help with.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Trends to keep a constant eye on.
  • Four pillars that hold up strong client relationships.

What’s most important to your clients is what will grow your business

This growing need for advice is good news for advisors. Yet building and maintaining a book of business is not all smooth sailing. Advisors and firms are under pressure to grow their businesses with strong client connections and proven success in financial investments.

To differentiate themselves, advisors need to keep a constant, iterative eye on three things:

  • Rising customer expectations. Leading technology businesses such as Amazon, Apple, and Netflix have all offered convenience, reliability, and simplicity as part of the customer experience. It’s expected that we can set our own preferences and get a really personalized and digital experience, and financial advisors must offer the same value. And as you offer that value, it’s important to remember that clients prioritize data security as much as personalization. According to Salesforce data, 79% of customers are hyper-attentive to protecting their personal data.
  • Increasing regulations are driving investor protection. A series of regulations issued in recent years by US and Canadian regulators require advisors to demonstrate that their investment recommendations are consistently in the client’s best interest, with robust reporting and transparency around fees and performance. Advisors must be able to show a plan that relates to the individual and their needs and is not just a cookie-cutter offering.
  • Proliferation and growing sophistication of technology platforms. This can be a good thing, but advisors need to sift through a cluttered shelf of options. Rather than have a separate piece of software for every function of the financial planning business and spending time and energy to connect the pieces, advisors may realize they can increase efficiencies and lower costs by bringing together certain segments of the investment planning experience. They need to have a more cohesive workflow that generates well-organized investment plans for clients.

The Four Pillars of Building Strong Client Relationships

Financial advisors aiming to build rapport must begin by delving deep into their client’s financial landscape. This goes beyond a mere analysis of income, expenses, and assets. It involves understanding the client’s financial goals, aspirations, and even their fears. By taking a holistic approach, advisors can tailor their recommendations to align with the client’s broader life objectives.

A comprehensive financial analysis should include an assessment of short-term and long-term goals, risk tolerance, liquidity needs, and any potential life events such as education expenses, home purchases, or retirement plans. This meticulous understanding allows the advisor to create a customized financial plan that not only addresses the immediate needs but also positions the client for long-term financial success.

To better your chances of getting the most in-depth information, consider these four pillars of strengthening customer relationships:

  • Authenticity: Be genuine in your interactions. Authenticity is the bedrock of any meaningful relationship. Be transparent about your business and show genuine interest in your client’s well-being. Authenticity breeds trust, laying the foundation for a lasting connection.
  • Communication: Foster open dialogue. Financial advisors must foster an environment where clients feel comfortable sharing their financial concerns and aspirations. A transparent, open dialogue helps in setting realistic expectations and enables the advisor to explain the rationale behind their recommendations. Establish clear lines of communication. Regular check-ins, updates, and feedback sessions create an environment where clients feel heard and valued. Two-way communication is essential for understanding their evolving needs and expectations.
  • Personalization: Tailor your approach. Recognize that each client is unique. Tailor your interactions to suit their preferences and communication style, and also make sure to personalize your recommendations to their financial profile—particularly their risk tolerance. By matching investments with risk tolerance, advisors help clients navigate the market’s volatility without jeopardizing their financial security. This alignment fosters a sense of confidence in the advisor’s expertise, enhancing the overall client-advisor relationship. That level of personalization demonstrates your commitment to their individual success and strengthens the emotional bond.
  • Consistency: Deliver on your promises. Consistency builds reliability. Ensure that your actions align with your words. Consistent, positive experiences reinforce trust and contribute to a client’s confidence in a long-term partnership.

The one thing to do with your client information is...

Keep it all together.

When you’re able to holistically build out a client’s financial profile, you can make the best recommendations for them by seeing it all at once.

Educating clients on the benefits of a long-term perspective not only establishes the advisor as a reliable guide but also reinforces the advisor-client partnership. Clients who understand that their advisor is committed to their enduring financial well-being are more likely to remain loyal and receptive to long-term investment strategies.

And the best way to do that is to keep their information centralized and up to date. Oftentimes, a software solution can give you the flexibility of custom dashboards to pull data into the views you need to assess a client’s needs.


Building rapport with clients as a financial advisor is a multifaceted endeavor that involves a deep understanding of the client's financial situation, transparent communication, and a tailored approach to risk. By focusing on these elements, advisors can establish trust, paving the way for a successful, enduring partnership. The result is not only satisfied clients but also a reputation for reliability and expertise that can attract new clients, ensuring the advisor's success in the competitive world of finance.

At Morningstar, we’ve created a workflow within Advisor Workstation that makes investment planning a straightforward, personalized, and compliant process. Ready to strengthen your client bonds? Learn more about the Investment Planning experience inside Morningstar Advisor Workstation.