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Do you really know your client?

Darren Cooke

Darren Cooke

'Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.'

Words that will bring back memories for many of us I’m sure as we sat as children and listened to Bernard Cribbins, Kenneth Williams or a host of other well-known names read a book on Jackanory.

Stories go to the heart of who we are as human beings; they have been used for centuries, long before humans could write, as a way of passing down wisdom, preserving history and, of course, entertainment. The power of the story is deeply engrained in our brain from birth.

We should harness the power of the story in how we interact with clients.

Each of our clients has their own story to tell, we need to give them space, time and permission to tell us that story. That way we understand them better, truly get to know them as people and not just numbers on a page. 

Just knowing their income, expenditure, job or age doesn’t really tell you that much about the person, generally speaking. Get away from the fact find as it will only tell you just that: facts.

Many years ago I worked in a bank and they didn’t call it a fact find, they called it a KYC (know your client), and that is exactly what financial planners have to do.

We have to get the client to tell us their story. Where they come from, how they got to where they are in life now, their family, their happy times and their sad times. Once we know who they are, who they really are, only then can we even start to claim that we know our client. 

And once we know their story we can help them write the next chapters; we can help them plan their futures, get them to think about how their story develops and then enable them to live that story. If you are doing that then you are really adding value to your clients and their families' lives. 

You don’t do it with graphs, charts and asset allocations – those are just the tools to make the story happen. 

If you understand your client's story and help them live their story, you tap into to part of the human psyche that is deeply engrained in all of us.

And guess what, you will become part of their story and the story they share with their friends and relatives about how good their financial planner is and how you have helped them live their life.

And so your story grows too. 

Darren Cooke is a chartered financial planner at Red Circle Financial Planning