Wealthy people need financial advice – the finest they can locate.
The queue to gain their lucrative business will be long, so how do they choose? Experience suggests there’s a series of hurdles to clear, ways they assess if you’re the right candidate for their business – or not.
The high-net-worth customer is often well versed in financial affairs – they know the basics, at least – and likely more confident and demanding than average. They know what they want and will probe you for weakness. It’s all about what they value in an advisor, beyond simple performance. Let’s consider the ways they’ll test your mettle.
Confidentiality is king. Rich people enjoy extraordinary comforts, but they’re also exceptionally vulnerable, a truism that can slip the mind. Most folks value their privacy, but some are less concerned about gossip than others – usually, the less-concerned are people with less to lose.
We’ve encountered advisors who don’t honor their confidentiality agreements. After a cocktail or glass of wine, they begin to show away, bragging about a client’s over-the-top house, Sierra-high net worth, or upcoming deals. They want to sound informed, important – like a real player. From our perch by the bar, they resemble hand-grenade jugglers.
Who else is listening with a keen ear? It’s a truly small world and you never can tell if a friend, colleague or relative of the client is listening. What about potential prospects: if someone knows you serve quality clients, they may take this as a recommendation and look for a chance to chat. They may’ve, but not now: in the financial services world, blabbermouths are anathema.
Advisors with long-term clients will inevitably hear some deeply personal revelations from their customers. Trouble at work, the state of a marriage, an illicit affair, the health of a child – anything could spill out. Once they sober up, they may wonder if they spilled to the wrong person. Your reputation, established in dealings with them and hopefully generally known, should answer their question. The wealthy want discretion and they’ll brook no exceptions – and neither should you.
You’ll notice our focus on social drinking – it’s a common practice, particularly in our business. Our advice is simple: don’t ever be seen drunk in a public social situation. Follow the course of the Ancient Greeks: moderation in everything – at least while they’re looking.
Frank Sinatra is renowned for bending his elbow. Stories of his prowess at making Jack Daniel’s disappear are legendary and like all tales, there’s even a grain of truth. But Frank had a secret: when offered, he’d take a drink, sip it, then discretely set the glass down. Refill after refill would flow, but at each round, only a sip. As an evening wore on, the crowd might get looped, but Mr. S would be fresh and most importantly, in his mind, alert. As often the case, you can learn a good deal by studying the Chairman.
A curious mistake to make with the wealthy – one that’ll earn instant bad marks – is failure to cover your portion of the tab. Yes, they might have King Farouk-size credit lines and enough cash in their wallets to fund a lunar mission. Rich people are usually generous, sometimes to a fault, but they’re surrounded by freeloaders, scroungers and spongers. They get sick of it.
If you have drinks with a wealthy prospect, no matter how jolly and munificent they feel at the end, insist on paying – it’s a legitimate business expense, after all. After a rich meal with a HNW client, even if she grabs the bill, say that it’s yours, or at least pay your share. Don’t cause offense, but as always, demonstrate your interest in serving and never taking a thing. Besides, rich people love it when someone else picks up the check.
For more information, please read:
6 Ways the Wealthy Put You to the Test | ThinkAdvisor