You sit down with your financial advisor to review your portfolio as you are now only seven years away from retirement. The past several years have seen the stock market plummet 5,000 points and indications are pointing to another correction in the near future.
You’re worried and relay that to your advisor. He gives you three options that he feels would be good strategies to protect your investments for the next several years. He then asks you which one you think will best suit you and your family.
Are you kidding me? Why should you choose the best option? Who’s the expert here? Where’s the sage advice you’re looking for?
Are they looking to avoid the blame in case it doesn’t produce the results you were looking for?
Or is it an issue of competence?
Competence demonstrates that they’re an expert who can give you sound advice for making critical decisions.
There are three components of competence that they’ll need to demonstrate to earn your respect. They are knowledge, experience and discernment. Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these.
Knowledge is developed over time; in fact it should continue forever.
They should understand their products and services and the characteristics of your needs. What does your future look like, how have you performed in the market the last few years? As you think of the future, they should help you understand what your strengths are and where you are vulnerable. Their knowledge should convey how their offerings are beneficial to you. Knowledge is multi-faceted.
Experience is what they’ve learned from supporting customers like you over a period of time.
It’s knowing how their products and services have performed for other clients. Where they have seen great results and where their customers have been disappointed. Experience also helps them to correct mistakes.
Experience is the accumulation of successes and failures and learning from them. It’s taking those past disappointments and knowing how to move forward and bring their competence to a higher level and sharing it with you.
An example would be learning to downhill ski. Reading a book on skiing might give you knowledge. But it’s the experience of skiing that makes you a better skier. You improve your techniques when you fall, get up and try again. It’s the same in selling. Their experience should help them ask better questions and answer yours.
Lastly, discernment is the culmination of knowledge and experience.
They should discern, “What’s the best approach for you?”
And you need to ask, “Can I rely on their discernment to offer the best recommendation?”
We’re all so busy today that we want to rely on them, but only IF they are deemed a “trusted advisor”. Trusting their guidance saves you time and money.
Discernment also has the characteristics of patience, objectivity and selflessness. Great sales professionals know how to discern what is best for you. They also know when it’s okay to push back. They have your best interest at heart and have built trust knowing you’ll respect them for their frank and caring advice.
Expect competence from your sales advisors. Look for their knowledge, experience and discernment. After all, isn’t that what we all want?