Although I have dealt with deep grief personally with my father dying when I was in my late twenties, I still struggled with how to convey my experiences with personal loss and grief to clients in transition. Like others, I have limited professional experience communicating in these situations and often felt my comments were just anecdotal. Not really knowing what to say, I would mostly tiptoe around in conversations in order to avoid emotional topics, keeping the conversations fact-based and focused on the work-at-hand.
Amy assured us that the point is to be ourselves. In order to genuinely support our clients, we must be able to open up, be vulnerable, and share our life experiences. In turn, as clients become more willing to share their stories with us, we learn to listen with care and respect. Once we understand that everyone processes grief and transition differently and there is no right or wrong way, we are able to truly be there for others and offer support when it is needed most.
Prior to working with Amy I felt awkward dealing with clients in transition. Corgenius training has deepened my connection with my clients and has given me the confidence to expand the depth of conversations with them -- whether it’s about end-of-life planning and final wishes, caring for a parent with a cognitive impairment or starting over after divorce. Working with Amy impacted me on a personal level as well. Her insights were invaluable on how to share my father’s legacy with my two sons who never had the opportunity to meet him. She also gave me advice on how to help my young sons process their great grandma’s death.
As the clientele ages and the business environment becomes increasingly relationship-centric, financial advisors must be able to appropriately interface with clients on a professional as well as personal level. This includes knowing how to support them through major life transitions.
Like many other advisors, Firm President, Alexander J. Cudzewicz, long felt he had difficulty relating to grieving clients. Feeling awkward, he was often unsure of what to say or do and wondered if his approach was sufficient to support these clients as well as maintain the relationships.
Working with Amy Florian, the firm began to develop the insight and practical skills to communicate and support clients in their time of grief. For example, they learned appropriate responses for uncomfortable moments at a funeral or wake. They learned how to react when a client breaks the news of a loss situation in their lives. Most importantly, they learned the value of taking the time to listen and understand what clients are experiencing as they work through their grief – even if their conversations only briefly mention finances.
The financial advisory business is all about trust and relationships. Learning how to effectively communicate with clients in transition has been a strong influence in the firm’s ability to reinforce trust and strengthen relationships. As Oak Brook Asset Management increasingly sees in its business, clients hire you and, more importantly, stay with you because of that.