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Clients Are Minding Your P’s and Q’s

When an experienced team of advisors lost a high-level prospect after a botched sales pitch, Roy Ballentine jumped into action. The founder of Waltham, Mass.-based indie RIA Ballentine Partners says he almost immediately realized “there was a real problem.”

But he wasn’t talking about a lack of talent or expertise in the types of sophisticated planning strategies that affluent families needed help with from his firm, which manages $6.1 billion. Rather, Ballentine says, on closer inspection he became concerned about a lack of recognition of how important non-verbal communications can be in winning and keeping new clients.

So he decided to bring in outside consultants to help train all of his employees – support staffers and FAs – to sharpen their skills on everything from posture and voice inflection to facial expressions and speech patterns.

“It became apparent that we could all use help in sharpening our communications skills – it wasn’t an isolated issue with just a few people,” says Ballentine, who related the story at the recent Insider’s Forum held by industry consultant Bob Veres in San Diego, Calif.

Such stories of sales pitches gone wrong or client get-togethers running amok aren’t uncommon, observes Lynn Torgove, whose Boston-based Gabriel Communications was hired by Ballentine Partners.

“Advisors tend to be good with numbers,” she says, “but they often forget that their clients are taking in more than just words.”

Studies indicate that speech should only be expected to account for about 7-10% of a client’s overall impression of what an advisor is really trying to convey, adds Torgove, whose consulting firm has been working with FAs and other financial pros for more than 15 years.

As a result, an overwhelming influence on how well FAs can get their messages across is likely to come down to what sort of nonverbal cues they’re sending.

“The more coordinated and well-thought out you are in adjusting how you sit and you make hand gestures can go a long way in making sure people are getting physical signals which are consistent with your words,” Torgove says.

Research also shows that initial impressions are typically formed by clients within 30 seconds, observes advisor Karen Leech of Wetherby Asset Management in San Francisco. The indie RIA, which manages about $4 billion, is also bringing in consultants to help refine advisors’ nonverbal toolkits.

One lesson that’s really resonating with Leech is the need to keep showing clients a positive attitude.

“When you’re in listening mode, your expressions are as important as the words you choose,” she says. “I’m finding that becoming more aware of something as little as when I’m smiling – and how forcefully – can make a big impression on people.”

Likewise, Leech now realizes how a furrowed brow – or even keeping a neutral face – can impact conversations.

“Understanding when to show emotion can go a long way towards expressing empathy,” she says.

As a Millennial-age advisor, Bethany Griffith is finding that it’s helpful to listen carefully to her own voice inflection when talking to older clients.

“I have a tendency to speak too quickly – not in terms of interrupting a conversation, but more like speaking at such a fast pace that it can be difficult for some people to understand,” says the FA at Abacus Planning Group in Columbia, S.C., which manages about $850 million.

After going through training by speech and image consultants, Griffith adds that she’s also learning not to “up-speak” so much. That refers to a speech pattern where voice levels go up at the end of each sentence.

“So a lot of times when I was trying to make an important statement to a client,” she says, “they probably thought I was asking a question.”

Up-speak is a common speech pattern, Griffith has been told, particularly in young female advisors.

“I didn’t even realize it – it was just a habit,” she says.

Today, Griffith reports to making improvements.

“I hear myself doing it now, so I don’t move through a 20-minute presentation doing up-speak the whole time,” she says.

For her part, consultant Torgove – who started out working with ballerinas and opera singers – emphasizes to her FA students that improving their non-verbal abilities “isn’t something you can learn just in your head.”

To become truly proficient at such a task she believes advisors need to practice making presentations to each other and keep reaching out to colleagues for helpful suggestions.

“Your body learns by repetition – you’ve got to teach it how to send out the right signals at the right time,” Torgove says.

Once your body and mind are in sync, she adds, nonverbal role-playing exercises must continue within an office.

“One of our biggest concerns is that we tend to see even the best communicators let their skills decay,” Torgove says. “We tell them to look at mastering nonverbal communications much like becoming an athlete – you’ve got to keep growing and sharpening your skills.”

Article Source: Financial Advisor IQ

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Clients Are Minding Your P’s and Q’s

When an experienced team of advisors lost a high-level prospect after a botched sales pitch, Roy Ballentine jumped into action. The founder of Waltham, Mass.-based indie RIA Ballentine Partners says he almost immediately realized “there was a real problem.”

But he wasn’t talking about a lack of talent or expertise in the types of sophisticated planning strategies that affluent families needed help with from his firm, which manages $6.1 billion. Rather, Ballentine says, on closer inspection he became concerned about a lack of recognition of how important non-verbal communications can be in winning and keeping new clients.

So he decided to bring in outside consultants to help train all of his employees – support staffers and FAs – to sharpen their skills on everything from posture and voice inflection to facial expressions and speech patterns.

“It became apparent that we could all use help in sharpening our communications skills – it wasn’t an isolated issue with just a few people,” says Ballentine, who related the story at the recent Insider’s Forum held by industry consultant Bob Veres in San Diego, Calif.

Such stories of sales pitches gone wrong or client get-togethers running amok aren’t uncommon, observes Lynn Torgove, whose Boston-based Gabriel Communications was hired by Ballentine Partners.

“Advisors tend to be good with numbers,” she says, “but they often forget that their clients are taking in more than just words.”

Studies indicate that speech should only be expected to account for about 7-10% of a client’s overall impression of what an advisor is really trying to convey, adds Torgove, whose consulting firm has been working with FAs and other financial pros for more than 15 years.

As a result, an overwhelming influence on how well FAs can get their messages across is likely to come down to what sort of nonverbal cues they’re sending.

“The more coordinated and well-thought out you are in adjusting how you sit and you make hand gestures can go a long way in making sure people are getting physical signals which are consistent with your words,” Torgove says.

Research also shows that initial impressions are typically formed by clients within 30 seconds, observes advisor Karen Leech of Wetherby Asset Management in San Francisco. The indie RIA, which manages about $4 billion, is also bringing in consultants to help refine advisors’ nonverbal toolkits.

One lesson that’s really resonating with Leech is the need to keep showing clients a positive attitude.

“When you’re in listening mode, your expressions are as important as the words you choose,” she says. “I’m finding that becoming more aware of something as little as when I’m smiling – and how forcefully – can make a big impression on people.”

Likewise, Leech now realizes how a furrowed brow – or even keeping a neutral face – can impact conversations.

“Understanding when to show emotion can go a long way towards expressing empathy,” she says.

As a Millennial-age advisor, Bethany Griffith is finding that it’s helpful to listen carefully to her own voice inflection when talking to older clients.

“I have a tendency to speak too quickly – not in terms of interrupting a conversation, but more like speaking at such a fast pace that it can be difficult for some people to understand,” says the FA at Abacus Planning Group in Columbia, S.C., which manages about $850 million.

After going through training by speech and image consultants, Griffith adds that she’s also learning not to “up-speak” so much. That refers to a speech pattern where voice levels go up at the end of each sentence.

“So a lot of times when I was trying to make an important statement to a client,” she says, “they probably thought I was asking a question.”

Up-speak is a common speech pattern, Griffith has been told, particularly in young female advisors.

“I didn’t even realize it – it was just a habit,” she says.

Today, Griffith reports to making improvements.

“I hear myself doing it now, so I don’t move through a 20-minute presentation doing up-speak the whole time,” she says.

For her part, consultant Torgove – who started out working with ballerinas and opera singers – emphasizes to her FA students that improving their non-verbal abilities “isn’t something you can learn just in your head.”

To become truly proficient at such a task she believes advisors need to practice making presentations to each other and keep reaching out to colleagues for helpful suggestions.

“Your body learns by repetition – you’ve got to teach it how to send out the right signals at the right time,” Torgove says.

Once your body and mind are in sync, she adds, nonverbal role-playing exercises must continue within an office.

“One of our biggest concerns is that we tend to see even the best communicators let their skills decay,” Torgove says. “We tell them to look at mastering nonverbal communications much like becoming an athlete – you’ve got to keep growing and sharpening your skills.”

Article Source: Financial Advisor IQ

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Clients Are Minding Your P’s and Q’s

When an experienced team of advisors lost a high-level prospect after a botched sales pitch, Roy Ballentine jumped into action. The founder of Waltham, Mass.-based indie RIA Ballentine Partners says he almost immediately realized “there was a real problem.”

But he wasn’t talking about a lack of talent or expertise in the types of sophisticated planning strategies that affluent families needed help with from his firm, which manages $6.1 billion. Rather, Ballentine says, on closer inspection he became concerned about a lack of recognition of how important non-verbal communications can be in winning and keeping new clients.

So he decided to bring in outside consultants to help train all of his employees – support staffers and FAs – to sharpen their skills on everything from posture and voice inflection to facial expressions and speech patterns.

“It became apparent that we could all use help in sharpening our communications skills – it wasn’t an isolated issue with just a few people,” says Ballentine, who related the story at the recent Insider’s Forum held by industry consultant Bob Veres in San Diego, Calif.

Such stories of sales pitches gone wrong or client get-togethers running amok aren’t uncommon, observes Lynn Torgove, whose Boston-based Gabriel Communications was hired by Ballentine Partners.

“Advisors tend to be good with numbers,” she says, “but they often forget that their clients are taking in more than just words.”

Studies indicate that speech should only be expected to account for about 7-10% of a client’s overall impression of what an advisor is really trying to convey, adds Torgove, whose consulting firm has been working with FAs and other financial pros for more than 15 years.

As a result, an overwhelming influence on how well FAs can get their messages across is likely to come down to what sort of nonverbal cues they’re sending.

“The more coordinated and well-thought out you are in adjusting how you sit and you make hand gestures can go a long way in making sure people are getting physical signals which are consistent with your words,” Torgove says.

Research also shows that initial impressions are typically formed by clients within 30 seconds, observes advisor Karen Leech of Wetherby Asset Management in San Francisco. The indie RIA, which manages about $4 billion, is also bringing in consultants to help refine advisors’ nonverbal toolkits.

One lesson that’s really resonating with Leech is the need to keep showing clients a positive attitude.

“When you’re in listening mode, your expressions are as important as the words you choose,” she says. “I’m finding that becoming more aware of something as little as when I’m smiling – and how forcefully – can make a big impression on people.”

Likewise, Leech now realizes how a furrowed brow – or even keeping a neutral face – can impact conversations.

“Understanding when to show emotion can go a long way towards expressing empathy,” she says.

As a Millennial-age advisor, Bethany Griffith is finding that it’s helpful to listen carefully to her own voice inflection when talking to older clients.

“I have a tendency to speak too quickly – not in terms of interrupting a conversation, but more like speaking at such a fast pace that it can be difficult for some people to understand,” says the FA at Abacus Planning Group in Columbia, S.C., which manages about $850 million.

After going through training by speech and image consultants, Griffith adds that she’s also learning not to “up-speak” so much. That refers to a speech pattern where voice levels go up at the end of each sentence.

“So a lot of times when I was trying to make an important statement to a client,” she says, “they probably thought I was asking a question.”

Up-speak is a common speech pattern, Griffith has been told, particularly in young female advisors.

“I didn’t even realize it – it was just a habit,” she says.

Today, Griffith reports to making improvements.

“I hear myself doing it now, so I don’t move through a 20-minute presentation doing up-speak the whole time,” she says.

For her part, consultant Torgove – who started out working with ballerinas and opera singers – emphasizes to her FA students that improving their non-verbal abilities “isn’t something you can learn just in your head.”

To become truly proficient at such a task she believes advisors need to practice making presentations to each other and keep reaching out to colleagues for helpful suggestions.

“Your body learns by repetition – you’ve got to teach it how to send out the right signals at the right time,” Torgove says.

Once your body and mind are in sync, she adds, nonverbal role-playing exercises must continue within an office.

“One of our biggest concerns is that we tend to see even the best communicators let their skills decay,” Torgove says. “We tell them to look at mastering nonverbal communications much like becoming an athlete – you’ve got to keep growing and sharpening your skills.”

Article Source: Financial Advisor IQ

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