The Client-centred Blog

Why vulnerability is the key to exceptional client relationships

People often go to extraordinary lengths to hide their vulnerability because there is a perception that it is weakness. 

Yet, paradoxically, putting yourself in a vulnerable position is the only way to create human connection and positively influence your clients.

As a financial practitioner it is easy to talk to your clients about products, investments, and financial matters.


Because it is comfortable for you. It is where you feel safe. It is what you know about. 

There are many highly qualified financial professionals who do a technically great job for their clients but who never make the kind of impact that is genuinely transformational in their clients lives.

Nothing differentiates them from thousands of other advisers, but surely in a world where transactional advice is becoming less and less economically viable you must create significant value beyond the transaction?

If you want to be even more highly valued by your clients, do high-impact work and derive deep satisfaction from your work then you must be willing to get off the safe ground.

What does this mean?

There is far more value in opening a conversation about what your clients really want from life and what their fears are than simply having an intellectual conversation about their finances that avoids the bigger “Why?”

Most of us do not reflect often enough, if ever at all, upon what we truly want from life.

*Can you honestly say you know what really matters to each of your clients? 

*Do you know what compels them? 

*What their priorities are in life? 

*What their fears and concerns are? 

*Where they want to be at the end of this year, in five years’ time and beyond?

An adviser recounted to me a situation where a couple wanted to invest a significant sum of money. Instead of just effecting the transaction he got curious. He asked questions, listened, and explored what was important to them.

The clients shared that what mattered most of all was to slow down the pace of their working lives and spend more time with each other and with their family. They have young grandchildren and want to be involved and enjoy seeing them grow up.

The adviser, through getting to understand his client and the situation, was able to clearly demonstrate how this important goal was possible right now and not out in the future sometime, as the clients thought it was. He helped them gain real clarity and the work they did together was genuinely life-changing because it was more than just about investing some money.

Connecting money and life

The late Jim Rohn said:

‘Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.’

Most advisers are good at talking about money but how many make it a priority to understand how their clients want to spend their time before talking about the money?

When you can connect what matters most to your clients together with your planning, advice, and recommendations it changes everything. 

It takes the relationship from a transactional one, which they could have with any practitioner, to one where you are serving your clients in a much more meaningful way. The result will be highly engaged clients, often more business and an increase in quality referrals.

P.S. Brene Brown talks about vulnerability and why it is essential to empathy. Click here to view 5m55s  

John Dashfield

John Dashfield spent 14 years as a self-employed adviser. Since 2006 he has been a coach, mentor and author helping advisers create transformations in their business and personal lives.