John Guilbeaux is in his 18th year of being an Edward Jones financial advisor for the Sulphur, Louisiana community. John is a soft-spoken individual with the presence that is someone you can easily trust your grandmother to be served by without the worry of him getting the best of her. He attended McNeese State University where he studied history while also working at a local bank. In his time at the bank he began to fall in love with dealing with clients, meeting new people, and the many aspects of finance. He then changed his major to Business Management then eventually receiving his degree in such. John felt he would thrive as a financial advisor because he wanted to help people with their best intentions in mind. I have had the privilege to interview John about the communicating with clients and peers in the financial service industry.
Importance of Verbal Communication
When I asked John about the importance of verbal communication he replied, “[Verbal] Communication is the most important trait a financial advisor needs to be successful. You have to be comfortable speaking to people.” The importance of communication for financial advisors is paramount to survival in the saturated markets of today. If you are not able to effectively communicate the difference in complex financial instruments to people, you will have trouble building a successful book of business. Being confident in yourself and being knowledgeable is something that many clients look for when choosing an advisor.
Importance of Written Communication
John also talks about the importance of written communication for financial advisors stating, “… mostly important when preparing to meet with a client to discuss where we believe their portfolio is heading.” Presenting your client with a clearly written report on the status of their portfolio is something he sees as an important part of customer service. Written communication is also important when receiving information about mutual funds, certain bonds, and other investment information from the company’s analysts. If the information is clear and gives reason as to why these have been selected, it allows the advisor to be able to relay this information to their clients without having to sell them on a blind investment.
Selecting a Medium of Communication
Knowing when to use formal or informal communication is something that “comes with experience”. When you are prospecting clients you want to be professional and show them that you are serious about your job. Making prospective clients trust you with their retirement is not easy by any means and showing them that you are credible takes time. Once that individual becomes your client, you can move to a more informal approach when in conversation. This takes out the advisor-client status and helps you to relate to the client on a more personal level so you can better serve their financial needs. When writing to peers, Edward Jones has a “family feel” to the collaboration of their advisors. The advisors are always in contact about various topics and this drives the medium of communication to a constantly informal approach. Edward Jones does not push for competition between their advisors and this allows for them to assist each other when helping their client.
With communication being a key determinate for financial advisors, especially those beginning their practice, John recommends “meeting as many people as you can.” The more times you can repeat your sales pitch to people, the more comfortable you will be approaching new prospects. Being told no is something that will happen nine times out of ten but when that one person says yes; you need to be prepared to assist them to the best of your ability with their best interest in mind.
Thomas Breaux, Guest Blogger