Practice Management TrendsettersApril 4, 2016

Key questions to ask millionaires 

As a financial advisor, what is your process to build trust, and become a trusted advisor to high net worth clients? Do you have a process, including a well documented value promise, that you give to your best prospects?

We understand that your clients trust you. The question is how much do they trust you? On a scale from 1 to 100, what percent would you say your top clients trust you? How do you know if it is 100%?  Bill Bachrach ( once said, “truth is that most financial professionals have little or no idea why their clients trust them or how to replicate high-trust client relationships. Trust is not something that should happen by accident. We understand that your clients trust you. The question is how much do they trust you?” How do you get your clients trust meter to 100% and gain all of their business and referrals?

Innovation Strategy:

How do you build trust? Besides gathering all the necessary information on paper on your client, what are the key questions to ask to build trust and understanding of the client’s point of view? When you have the biggest potential prospect walk through your door with millions of assets to invest with you, what’s the first thing that goes through your mind? “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do or say to impress this person, what am I going to do differently to attract this client?”

Do you have a consistent framework or key process for each interview structured in such a way as to build trust and gather all of the relevant information to help this person? Years ago as an advisor I was taught to probe for hot buttons and ask all kinds of questions. Then one day I came across a book by Bill Bachrach titled, Values-Based Selling: The Art of Building High-Trust Client Relationships.

Soon after I read the book I contacted Bill and his team about their processes. Since practice management is all about processes, I wanted to find out about how they do it. This lead into reading his next book, Values-Based Financial Planning: The Art of Creating and Inspiring Financial Strategy.

As Bill says about his process with clients and prospects, “In the grand scheme of things, money's not that important. It's important only to the extent that it allows you to enjoy what's important to you. And not worrying about your finances is critical to having a life that excites you, nurtures those you love, and fulfills your highest aspirations. If you want to make smart choices about money, based on what is important to you--your core values, this book is for you.”

This informative and well-written book will help you build a financial strategy, starting with your own unique values, what is truly important to you. By defining these unique values, you can create a plan that not only looks good on paper, but spurs you to follow through and achieve your goals. Values-Based Financial Planning will help you realize what's important to you, align your financial choices with the great life you want, and become inspired to do whatever it takes to have that life.” Bill’s system is a way of asking key questions of high net worth clients and prospects. Find a system of gathering information beyond just a fact finder or a “know your client” form.

“Trust has been, and always will be, the single most important thing that has to happen for two people to do business together, especially when it comes to money.” —Bill Bachrach.

Another truth is that most financial professionals have little or no idea why their clients trust them or how to replicate high-trust client relationships. Trust is not something that should happen by accident. Here are a few excellent questions about trust from Bill Bachrach ( for financial professionals:

Do your clients trust you enough to pay you a separate, up-front fee for planning and advice? Or do you under-charge or give away planning or portfolio reviews in the hopes of getting their assets or selling an annuity or insurance policy?

Do they trust you enough to consolidate all of their assets with you and your custodian? Or do they have their money spread among multiple advisors and institutions? (This is NOT diversification!)

Do they trust you enough to ignore the noise in the media and the talking heads on TV about the economy, the markets, politics, and chaos around the world?

Or do they question your advice based on what they read, hear, and see from financial journalists or conversations with their friends?

Do they trust you enough to implement all of your advice in all areas of financial services you offer? Or do they pick and choose what they do and when they do it, treating you more like a salesperson offering a buffet of options rather than their Trusted Advisor? Do they proactively and consistently introduce you to their friends, family, and colleagues? Or do they balk and become politely evasive when you bring up the subject of referrals?

“Everyone has an imaginary ‘trust dial’ embedded in their subconscious and everything you say and do moves the needle on that trust dial… one direction or the other.”

— Bill Bachrach

It’s in the best interest of both the advisor and the client for the needle to move from the middle to the maximum. The question is, “how do you do that?”

Case study 

Whether you use Bill’s process or not, having a system of gathering the client’s goals and financial information, gaining trust, and getting commitment in less than one hour can be challenging. According to Bill, “sales training addresses the symptoms, not the problem. When people do not respond to your advice, they are really telling you they don’t trust you enough to take action on your ideas. When they rebuff your approach, they are telling you they do not believe you have their best interests at heart. There simply is no trust. The key to attaining your ideal clientele is the art of deliberately and sincerely building trust.”

How do you speak the language of trust? Bill believes it boils down to three things:

  1. Know the right questions to ask, when to ask them and how to ask them.
  2. Listen with empathy.
  3. When it's your turn to talk to be able to make an offer or give advice that is relevant for them, with confidence and conviction, and in a way that tends to inspire action.

What are some of the right questions to ask? In the beginning of a potential business relationship, the questions are open-ended and about things that are meaningful, important, significant and compelling to the client prospect. Questions like:

  • What's important to you?
  • What are you most passionate about? People? Causes?
  • What's more important in your life than money?
  • Who do you care about?
  • What are your aspirations for the future?

Notice how the questions are oriented to draw out things that are positive and tend to stimulate positive emotions. Consider the positive orientation of these questions in contrast to how the old-school salesperson would tend to focus on questions that draw out problems and fears. Don't be a salesperson, be a trusted advisor.

Speaking the language of trust means that you ask questions where the answers inspire people about their futures, not scare them about the future. The better you understand what inspires people about the future, the more likely it is that they will feel good about you, even trust you. This puts you in a much better position to make an offer that might help them have the future they aspire to.

Building a system of trust is a process. Do you go deep enough in the questions you ask? Do you get deep enough emotionally? To do this, you ask clarifying and expanding questions in response to the answers you get from your initial meaningful, important, significant and compelling questions. An effective clarifying question is, "What do you mean by __________?" An effective expanding question is, "Tell me more about _______________." Clarifying questions provide more detail about their answers. Expanding questions give you more information about their answers.

As Bill Bachrach says, “Impact questions are some of my favorite questions. They take what you have discovered during a conversation that's gone emotionally deep from someplace meaningful and bring it to a crescendo about the impact and results this will have on a client's life. Impact questions are questions like, "And what impact will that have on your life?" "Once you have achieved ____________, what will be the result of that?"

You have asked good questions, gone emotionally deep with clarifying, expanding and impact questions, and listened with empathy, so what do you do now? It's your turn to talk. And what will be music to their ears when you do speak is if you make them an offer or give them advice that is relevant for them. How do you know what's relevant for them? That's what you discovered while you were listening to the answers to all of your excellent questions.”

Create your consistent process to building trust and attract your new ideal clients.  

One final question: As a financial advisor, would you like to increase the trust dial with your top clients and prospects?  Would you like to enhance your process, including a well documented value promise, that you give to your best prospects? If the answer is yes, reach out to someone who can help you, or contact us at

 Advisor Practice Management’s goal is 

“ Helping Financial Advisors take action, to create 100 quality financial plans for their clients”. My mission if you choose to accept it is “ To help advisors to create 1 million quality financial plans for people”.  Ask your clients and prospects this question " What does a quality financial plan mean to you ? Let me know if I can help you grow your practice. 

Let’s work on your business. Start by emailing us. Why not? 

Enthusiastically yours,

Grant Hicks, CIM, National Director Practice Management
Advisor Practice Management

909-17th Ave SW, 4th Floor
Calgary, Alberta  T2T 0A4
Tel  587 390 3148
Cell 403 970 8895

PS Where do you want to be in 3 years?

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