The Best Question to Engage Affluent Prospects

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Dan Richards

There are no magic solutions when it comes to getting affluent prospects to meet with you. But your chances of success go up significantly by tapping into high-value concerns and positioning yourself as an advisor who can help address those issues. 

An article I wrote in February of 2010 outlined a question to engage high-net-worth prospects. Last week, a regular reader of my articles told me he uses this question on a regular basis with excellent results.

Here’s the question:

What kind of written plan do you have forecasting income and living expenses in retirement, to ensure that you don’t run out of money?

That question made sense in 2010 – and given the continued market uncertainty, cutbacks in government spending and media coverage of longer lifespans, it makes even more sense today. 

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Asking a prospect, ”What kind of written plan do you have?” communicates that people in their situation should have a written financial plan as a matter of course.

And when prospects say that they don’t have a written plan, ask the logical follow-up question, with perhaps a bit of surprise: “And is there a reason why not?”

Here’s an extract from that February 2010 article that got this reader’s attention: 

Extract from 2010 article

Research shows a continuing anxiety among many Americans with regard to funding their retirement and often that concern is highest among mid and higher income earners used to more extravagant lifestyles than someone making $40,000 a year.

When talking to prospects, you want to do two things.

First, you want to reinforce whatever level of urgency to take action they may already feel – or create that urgency if it doesn't exist. And second, you want to position yourself as someone who provides a solution to important issues in their financial life.

Once you've broken the ice, here's a question that I recommend asking to help achieve both of these goals:

Do you have a written plan forecasting income and expenses in retirement, to ensure you don't run out of money?

Once you've asked that, you might want to have case studies or samples of the kinds of plan you put in place to help clients address this concern.

Let's be clear – there are no silver bullets that will have HNW prospects come flocking to your door.

But asking thoughtful, slightly provocative questions such as this one – not to panic or alarm prospective clients but to get them thinking – advances your cause when talking to HNW prospects.


conducts programs to help advisors gain and retain clients and is an award winning faculty member in the MBA program at the University of Toronto. To see more of his written and video commentaries, go to www.clientinsights.ca. Use A555A for the rep and dealer code to register for website access.