In this episode, Steve talks with Chris Gardner, President of FMF&E Wealth Management in Syracuse, New York.

Chris was fortunate enough to begin his career in the investment space, managing big money at an early age. Eventually,  Chris craved meaning beyond numbers and after a failed business attempt, he moved from Boston back to New York in 2001. Back in New York, Chris joined an RIA and has not looked back since.

While he’s always loved working with people, it took a personal tragedy for Chris to realize the power of getting vulnerable with clients. At the end of the day, he believes this business has nothing to do with pie charts and projection graphs, and everything to do with building relationships with clients based on trust.

Chris talks with Steve about the power of encouraging clients to tell their own stories, the best ways to address client concerns, and how advisors can stop wasting time on things that don’t matter.

“I see our job of getting things down to a bite-sized level for people. I mean the highest level of mastery I think would be simplicity, right? So if we can get people to really get some feel for what direction they’re going in, then we get a chance of building trust with them and then we get a chance at having a lifelong client.” ~ Chris Gardner, CFP

Main Takeaways

  • Spend more time listening to your client than speaking at them. Listening to your client helps you understand where they’re coming from which, in turn, helps you become a champion for them.
  • There’s always an emotional question behind a numbers question. When you’re vulnerable with clients, they’re encouraged to act the same way. That vulnerability helps you address the root cause of their questions.
  • Work with people who share similar values. When you care about the same things as your clients, serving them becomes much easier.
  • The business of financial advising is a business based on human behavior. To succeed, advisors need to understand empathy. That empathy is something that can never be replaced by robo-advisors.

Links and Important Mentions

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Steve Atkinson

Steven Atkinson

Managing Director, Advisor Relations

For 25 years Steve has helped advisors get into the RIA space and/or helped them grow by developing and sharing a variety of client experience best practices. Steve was an original architect of Buckingham’s Design | Build | Protect® client experience process along with the Life Discovery and Feedforward programs. Steve is also an author of The Wealth Solution and 27 Principles Every Investor Should Know. He is also the host of the Admired Advisor podcast. Steve is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelor’s in Finance and Investment Banking. Steve lives in Edwards, CO and enjoys spending time with his daughters skiing in the winter or golfing in the summer .