Connecting with Yourself to Better Connect with Clients

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Recent research, Developing and Maintaining Client Trust and Commitment in a Rapidly Changing Environment, has highlighted a mismatch between advisor and client assessments of the communication and connection skills of advisors. It is a must-read. Whether you believe advisors are overconfident or clients are overcritical isn't as important as the client dissatisfaction that the paper makes plain. Of all its findings, the one I find most revealing is that 68% of planners said they used a "systematic process to help clarify values and priorities," and 60% of clients agreed. That's the closest the two get, which tells me that improving processes isn’t the lesson here. Moreover, clients don't respond to processes; they respond to people. Your client's experience is inseparable from their experience of you as a human being.

Fortunately, you can do plenty to improve your client's experience, and you don't need any software or other tools to do it. All you need is your presence – your way of being human. And that springs from your connection to yourself. A second-order effect is deeper attunement and a better connection with clients.

I'm a Brown University-trained mindfulness teacher with over a decade of experience. I created a course, Mindfulness for Financial Advisors, in 2019 and have taught it to hundreds of advisors. I'm also married to a CFP®, and I'm a weapons-grade introvert who frequently finds herself at parties full of advisors, explaining the far-reaching effects of a single mindfulness practice – the body scan.

Advisors often call the body scan magic, but there's no sorcery involved. Instead, it’s a practice of noticing the wisdom you carry around inside you all day, which you have a habit of not noticing or even avoiding. And here's the kicker: What’s happening in your body affects how you walk, speak, and listen, as well as what you see and hear. This includes whether you sense your own anxiety or that of your clients, and how skillfully you handle your emotions as well as those of your clients (areas found to be wanting in the above study).

Here are three crucial times to enlist the body scan and how to do it in those moments.