4 Tips from MDRT Members: What Advisors Wish They Knew Sooner
In a recent episode of the MDRT podcast, we heard what advisors wish they knew sooner in their careers. The take-aways are so good we wanted to share them with you.

The four panelists are:

Harpreet Atwal
Rick Jones, CFP
Brent Kimball, ChFC, CFP
Michaela Scott, CFP, RICP

Get our recap below or listen to the full podcast episode here:

No time to read? Watch our video overview:

Takeaway #1: Divorce Is Expensive

Brent Kimball, ChFC, CFP shared his experience helping clients before, during, and after a divorce. What has he learned? Divorce is expensive – and attorneys are often the only ones who win. Seeing clients go through expensive divorces has changed the way he does business. Now, he makes it a point to address a potentially painful topic no matter which life stage his client is in.

  • If a client is single: If the time comes for a client to get married, he advises them to see an attorney and get a pre-nuptial agreement. Not all clients take his advice, which sometimes comes back to haunt them. But for the ones who do, Kimball notes that the prenup often makes the relationship better, and not just financially.
  • If a client is already married: His first recommendation is that they have good estate planning in place. He even volunteers to go with them when they meet with a tax attorney. This step is especially important for blended families.
  • If a client is getting divorced: He lets both clients know they can still work with him. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. As an agent, it's important to maintain trust and fulfill the obligation to both of them unless they choose otherwise.

Takeaway #2: Use the Funeral Test

Michaela Scott, CFP, RICP talked about a life-changing moment - the first client funeral she attended. That experience made her wonder: Did I do everything I could for this client? Was I as comprehensive as I could have been? From that point on, she wanted all of her clients to pass this “funeral test.”

Why was this test such an important breakthrough? Because it made her see things from the client's perspective. At that moment, she knew she never wanted to let a client think she was doing more for them than she was. In your business, for example, does your client think you’re advising her on how much to save for retirement…but from your perspective, you're just helping her buy life insurance? If so, how can you refer or cross-sell to make sure that what the client thinks you’re doing is actually taken care of?

Takeaway #3: Ask Questions, then Shut Up

Rick Jones, CFP wishes he’d learned this valuable lesson 12-13 years ago. He says he used to ask questions and then answer them because he was supposed to be the one who knew all the answers. But, as he learned, those were his answers and not his clients’. So he learned to listen instead – and that’s when he started making Top of the Table. If you let your clients talk, they’ll tell you what they want to do.

In the same vein, Michaela Scott also wishes she’d learned to ask more questions. (If you read our blog regularly or get our newsletter, you know this is also what Van Mueller suggests!) Scott noted that when you’re a young agent just starting out, doing business is often transactional because you’re excited to make a sale and just get the job done. Plus, new agents often don’t want to rock the boat by asking uncomfortable questions. But now, she knows it’s her responsibility to ask these questions and she does so because she’s a confident professional.

Takeaway #4: Relax

As it turns out, Frankie Goes to Hollywood was right.

Harpreet Atwal shared this as the strategy he wished he’d learned earlier – relax when you’re in a client meeting. It’s easy to get into a rat-race mentality if you think about money. Don’t. You’re there as an advisor to help your client. Relaxing is how you make sure you’re in charge of the meeting. Once you’re relaxed, think beyond the transactional mindset and ask your client about their three-year and five-year goals. Atwal notes that clients will often find this uncomfortable, but if they answer, you’ll get a much better understanding of them and can do a better job of helping them achieve their goals.

But what if your client is the one who’s stressed?

First, let them naturally calm down by doing something ordinary. This might mean waiting until they get a glass of water or making small talk about how their day went. Wait until they’re relaxed and ready to talk. You need them to be relaxed if you’re going to ask about their three- and five-year plans. If they’re stressed when they get that question, they’ll give you a quick, short answer. If they’re not, however, you’ll learn more and can be more helpful to them.

That's our look at what advisors wish they knew sooner in their careers!

What do you wish you had known sooner? Tell us in the comments!

You can listen to more episodes of MDRT podcast here on SoundCloud.