I was rereading the post on Michael Kitces blog Nerd's Eye View where he points out that our value is not in what we tell clients, but what we can motivate them to do. We too easily fall into "Expert Syndrome." We believe it is the quality of our advice that creates our value. While quality advice is a critical component to our service, without action it does little good. I have seen this especially in fee-based planning practices. Since we are paid to dispense advice, it is easy to fall into the trap of stressing the telling to the detriment of motivating clients to act. Unless clients act on our advice, we have not made their lives any better.
Acting makes for more satisfied, more engaged clients. Consider the difference between a client who describes his relationship with you to a friend as "He gave me great advice" and one who tells his buddy "He got me to take these steps and I'm way better off because of it."
Motivating to action is more about questions than answers. In his post, Kitces describes a session at FPA Retreat by Karen Miller-Kovac, Chief Scientific Officer of Weight Watchers. She refers to Motivational Interviewing as a way to help clients discover the importance of change and to realize they can accomplish it.
Similarly, my work with advisors continually reinforces the importance of questions over answers. Rather than telling "this is where our practice is headed and these are the services we provide" it is far more powerful to ask "what can we do that would be of the most value to you and what would be the best way of doing it for you?" In my own client engagements, I always start a new relationship with the question "what would have to happen in our working together that would cause you to believe it was a huge success?” Discovering what clients most want, from themselves and from you, so you can deliver it to them, is the most valuable service you can provide.

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