Trust is at the core of what we do.
Our clients often come to us seeking advice during some of the most critical times in their lives. How should they set up their company? Who will care for their kids when they’re gone? How will they protect an idea they’ve spent their whole life perfecting? These are important decisions that we, as advisors, must help them make.
So, we asked ourselves: what traits do we look for in someone when we’re seeking advice? Below is a wordcloud with our answers.
As you can probably tell from the illustration, “Trust” was the most common answer among our group. With that in mind, our team is continually challenging ourselves to find the best ways to build and maintain trust with our clients. And that’s where The Trusted Advisor comes in.
The book uses an equation to characterize "trust" (shown below). Essentially, in order to build trust with a client, an advisor must possess high credibility, reliability, and intimacy, while having a low-self orientation. But becoming a trusted advisor isn’t as straightforward as having a high trust score.
A trusted advisor is defined as "someone the client turns to when an issue first arrives, often in times of great urgency: a crisis, a change, a triumph, or a defeat." That’s our goal with each and every one of our clients, but we understand that takes time, comfort, and consistency. So, with the help of The Trusted Advisor, we put together a list of ten things we try to do in each of our client interactions to help build trust, and ultimately, become a trusted advisor.
- Listen to everything. Make sure our “ears are bigger than your mouth.”
- Understand that while a situation might be routine for us, it is likely the first-time for the client. Listen for what's unique not what's the same.
- Live our tagline: Legal Strategies with Business Perspective. In other words, empathize with the client.
- Pay attention to what the client is feeling
- Build a shared agenda
- Have an opinion, even if it’s an initial reaction. Show the client you care and possess knowledge.
- Ask good questions
- Return any contact from clients unbelievably fast
- When we make inevitably make a mistake, run to it, own it, and come up with a plan to overcome it. Just make sure it doesn’t happen too often.
- Make proactive recommendations to clients. This isn’t merely a way to spend trust, it’s a way to earn and build it.
This list of ten things are vital to how we do business. And The Trusted Advisor has played a big part in identifying how we approach our client relationships. It might seem obvious, but we don’t want to limit our work. We want to do more than simply draft contracts, form companies, file patents, and create estate plans. We want to be seen as a go-to resource for our clients' biggest business decisions.
Now we want to hear from you. What do you think makes a someone a trusted advisor? What traits do they possess? Leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.