10 advisers reveal the best question they've ever asked a client

We celebrated our 10th annual New Model Adviser® Retreat last week at The Grove hotel in Hertfordshire.

We asked advisers to identify a great question they had asked a client, one that had produced a positive or surprising outcome. Have a read of what they said and look out for more coverage of our Retreat speakers, investment themes and poll results next week.

See all the pictures from the Retreat here. 

Victoria Dare, IFA at Palmer Lane:

‘We had a client who had had several years of financial difficulties. When we pulled his pensions together, we realised he could pay off his debts and live off his pension. To see the emotion on his face when he realised he would be able to retire was a revelation. The question we asked was just: “what would be the most important thing for you to enjoy your life?” And he said: “not to have any more worry”.’

Jeannie Boyle, financial planner and technical director at EQ investors:

‘Most clients have the mindset that they should retire as early as possible. But we have found with some their biggest passion comes from their work. By asking those questions, we are able to work on slowly transitioning them out and even changing their work to suit them.’

Will Lloyd, managing director at Accalon Associates:

‘I tend to use the [George] Kinder questions [about life planning] and find they are the best way of opening a conversation up. The first one is: “if tomorrow you opened a letter and that said you now had all the money in the world, what would you do with your life?”

‘People often come in thinking about certain objectives or products. This transfers away from that, and gets them thinking about their life rather than investment or insurance.’

George Bugakov, financial planner at EA Financial Solutions:

‘I had a couple who were already in retirement and were very frugal but had a lot of assets. I asked “if you can afford it, why aren’t you spending more?”

‘It sounds mundane but it completely changed their outlook. They were no longer having to worry about inheritance tax and began to enjoy their lives so much more. It really opened them up.’

Simon Lake, financial planner at Thomas Westcott Chartered Financial Planners:

‘The best tactic for talking to clients is to make them realise how well they have done for themselves. Talk about how well they are doing. Put them on the high stool.’

Tony Larkins, managing director at Beacon Wealth Management:

‘I had a client who had recently divorced and just come out the other side. She was so eager to do all these things, and she wanted to do them immediately. She wanted to move house, travel and change the kids’ schools. So I asked her: “do you need to do this now?” She realised she did not. I told her: “you have time. You’ve just come through a divorce. Spend some time with your children, they’ve been through hell.” She took my advice.’

David Ashley, financial planner at Altorfer Financial Management:

‘I ask clients at review meetings whether they want to discuss anything I would not have thought of. That normally results in something interesting. If I’m lucky, they tell me they have inherited £100,000.’

Caroline Banks, managing director at Caroline Banks & Associates:

‘We had a solicitor who said “I’m happy if [my money] takes me to age 80”. Well, I’m not happy with that! We’re counsellors really.’

Peter Coomber, business manager at D&G Financial Planning:

‘Your hear adverts that say: “we want to make sure your family is fully protected if you don’t come home”, but I think it needs a softer approach.

'Instead we would ask: “are you fully prepared for every financial implication that will affect you and your family at every part of your life?” You can’t assume anything about anyone.’

Ian Barnett, director at Lewis Brownlee Financial Services:

‘I once had a consultant client who was worried about discussing complex money matters. I said: “Let’s not make it about the money”. And I asked her: “if you were to retire tomorrow, where would you want to be?”’