The Trust Gap – And Getting Past It

By Wes Fang, Vice Chair, Financial Practice

Ask a person on the street what the word “finance” brings to mind, and you’re likely to hear some fairly negative responses; things like “greed”, “Wall Street” and “Bernie Madoff”. It’s no secret that the financial world suffers from a trust gap, partly because the headlines feature the worst of the bad actors in that sphere, but also because so many people in our country are financially illiterate and naturally suspicious of what they don’t understand.

If you’re a wealth advisor, an investment counselor, in insurance or elsewhere in the financial realm, that means your first hurdle is getting past your prospective client’s cynicism and wariness, and putting trust in their place.

The most successful people I know in finance share a common gift – the ability to inspire trust in others. What’s their secret? Actually, I think there are two. One is the attitude they bring with them into that initial meeting. They’re not there to push a product or service; they’re there to help that person achieve his or her goals, even if that means saying “No.” They care, and that’s what comes across. They’re gifted and intuitive listeners who hear beyond what’s said to what’s meant, and who will go above and beyond to make that client happy.

The other big piece is that they’ve put the work into establishing their authority and their branding. Those words get thrown around a lot, but what it really boils down to is creating great first impressions. When a prospect Googles you, what pops up? These high achievers have very deliberately curated their public presence.

They know the difference between marketing and sales. Sales is a checkers match – point a to point b – but a true marketer plays chess, they know the track isn’t linear. Highly successful people are always planting seeds that grow their authority; being featured as experts in different media, speaking at conferences, writing books and blogs. They’ve already pre-qualified themselves as experts to the people who contact them.

A great example of someone who does this right is Peter Strauss, Founder and CEO at Hamilton Captive Management, and Author of The Business Owner’s Definitive Guide to Captive Insurance Companies. His specialty is a niche product, one he got into by happenstance. He was working as an attorney when a client asked him for help setting up a captive insurance plan. This wasn’t his area, but Peter’s foundation is built on client service and trustworthy relationships, so he started researching it.  Ultimately, he figured out how to set up, and manage, captives for small and medium-sized businesses that weren’t being served by the market. In fact, Peter became such an expert that his book became a bestseller on the subject. Peter’s recognized as a thought leader in the field, because he plays marketing chess like a pro – and backs it up with amazing client care.

Establishing your credibility and authority before your prospects even pick up the phone is a critical first step in turning them into clients – and getting them past the trust gap.