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Individual Participant Meetings: Gathering Information while Building Trust

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Participant meetings are one ofthe best opportunities you have as a financial advisor to boost your assetsunder management. Rule of thumb is that for every one dollar in theparticipant’s account, there are seven dollars of participant assets that inother accounts, which you could potentially manage. The conclusion ofenrollment meetings is an ideal time to schedule one-on-one meetings with theplan sponsor’s employees. The purpose of these meetings is to answer questionsand encourage non-participants to enroll in the retirement plan, so they have aPaycheck for Life® and help participants build their 401(k) assets, as well asmanage other assets that are not in the plan.

At your first meeting, it can bedifficult, occasionally, to gather the necessary information without feeling asif you’re “grilling” the person. Participants may not want to reveal too muchabout themselves; however, you need to get as much information as possible. Bystarting a social conversation with your client, you can help to put them atease, building their trust while you collect all the essential data.

  • Create aDialogue—You should ask questions, but don’t be afraid to tell the clientabout your personal life, too. For example, you have a son or daughter who isjust applying to college and the client’s child is now a freshman at the localuniversity. You shouldn’t hesitate to ask them how he or she likes the school.By sharing a little bit about your personal life (when appropriate), you canrelate to your client on a deeper level. If they know that they can trust you,they will share more information with you.
  • Don’t SellThem—It’s important to put your client at ease. It may be stressful forthem to talk about their financial situation with you. If they are like most otherpeople, their retirement savings have been volatile the past few years. Letthem know that you genuinely want to help them to achieve a brighter financialfuture – a paycheck for life.
  • Work Froma Paper, But Don’t be Afraid to Go Off Topic Sometimes—It is best to havean outline of questions that you need answered, but if you get off topic,that’s alright. It’s better for your relationship to get to know the person.However, don’t stray too far so that you end up talking sports or politics foran hour. The client’s time (like yours) is valuable. There’s a delicate balancebetween building trust and wasting time, but it is essential not to make theclient feel rushed.
  • DiscoverWhat They Aren’t Telling You—A large portion of communication isnon-verbal. Make sure you can tell the difference between an anxious client andone who is in a hurry. Similarly, you should try to control your body languageas much as possible to keep the conversation going. If the person is talkingabout something important, nod your head as a way of prompting him or her tocontinue. Don’t cross your arms in front of your chest, even if theconversation is not going the way you want it. This is a signal that you areuncomfortable or bored and literally creates a barrier between you and the person.Keeping an open posture, facing them with your arms at your sides (ordiscreetly taking notes on important points), is an invitation for them to keeptalking.
  • BePrepared to Listen—You should be listening to everything the person has tosay. Make eye contact, and if the discussion pertinent, ask for moreinformation. Be attentive and present in the conversation.

Your initial meeting with eithera participant or non-participant is a crucial moment. You need to gather theirfinancial information while beginning a long-term professional relationship.Not everyone is blessed with the gift of gab, but if you can master a fewtactics, you will be well on your way to putting people at ease, building theirtrust in you and, hopefully, increasing your assets under management.

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