When an individual or a couple enters my office for an initial meeting, I have two main goals in mind: building trust and enjoying our time getting to know each other.

I have found over my 40+ years as a financial advisor that people will do business with you if they believe that you are trustworthy and can relate to you and what you stand for.

I grew up in a small town in Connecticut and graduated from The University of Connecticut with a degree in Insurance and Business Administration.

I am the oldest grandson in a family of 60 grandchildren. I never knew until I came into this business how important my family background was in my ability to connect to and communicate with my potential clients. It’s been a conversation piece in almost all my initial meetings with clients.

During an initial meeting, I spend the first 15 to 20 minutes reviewing the financial documentation that the candidate brings in and the rest of the time asking open-ended questions to learn more about their situations. Most financial planners believe they need to be talking to gain client trust. The reality is that you actually gain the trust of clients and learn the most about them when you are listening to stories about their family and working years.

Some questions that tell me the most about clients and their lives include the following:
• At age 72 what is your greatest financial concern?
• What do you like or dislike about the stock market?
• How much do your children know about your financial plan?
• Who would be in charge of managing your liquid assets if your spouse died?

These types of questions help to build a relationship between my client and myself.

If my prospect is a retired business owner I ask, “How did you get started in the business?” Their answers usually contain a plethora of background information, which makes me feel as though I were right there with them. I learn more about my prospects from personal questions than anything an information sheet can tell me. Heritage is extremely important with the majority of my clients age 70 and up.

Asking clients about their children—how old, where they live, and what do they do—is all a part of my information gathering. I get to know each client’s child and their spouses through the eyes of the client. This information is important in putting my financial plan together. This serves to be particularly true when I illustrate to my perspective client how a Stretch IRA can work for their family.

Asking questions and building a relationship based on mutual trust is a key element in beginning the search for a financial advisor. If your advisor is focused only on the numbers, beware! I treat my clients like my family. I wouldn’t want to trust my hard-earned money to someone who didn’t take the time to learn what is important to me and my future.

John Borawski is President of Asset Accumulation, a full-service financial preparation firm that helps seniors plan a secure retirement they can never outlive. To learn more, contact John at (561) 624-4456.