Why the right answers to the wrong questions don’t help

Giving the right answers to the wrong questions doesn’t help anyone

That might sound pretty obvious.  But, it’s surprising how easy it is to give the right answers to the wrong questions.  Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves what our job is really about.  Let me explain.

As Financial Advisers, what is our job really about? 

Think about that for a minute.

We’ve always been led to believe that our whole life as Financial Advisers is about answering questions.  This is because:

  • it’s what we are trained to do by the hierarchy around us
  • our regulators encourage us to sit qualifications so we answer technical questions
  • we have to demonstrate ongoing competency to answer them
  • even our compliance departments want us to prove we can answer technical questions
  • and then our clients come to us, expecting us to answer those technical questions

But, our role is not to give technical answers – even though we might feel tempted to show off a little, demonstrate our knowledge or help our client with their question.

This is what our job is actually about

  • It’s about us asking our clients
  • It’s about us helping our clients to work out what they really want out of life – the big, human

So if a client asks you “will this investment fund give me a 5% income?”,  this is the wrong sort of question!  And, it’s really important that you resist the urge to answer this sort of ‘little’ and ‘technical’ question.

Instead, use your expertise to ask them the correct, important questions, like:

  • “What made you ask that question?”
  • “Why 5% specifically?”
  • “Is there any reason why you picked that specific fund?”

And crucially,

  • “If I give you the answer, what would you do with it?”

These are far more powerful answers to give – they force your client to reflect and question what they are actually asking, and why?  And this allows them to question whether or not the answer will even help them.

This is where we add value.

Our job is to ask “Why?” 

So remember….

When we are working with our clients, we need to focus on the right questions (the big, human questions) – and steer them away from the wrong ones (the little, technical questions).

Because giving our clients the right answers to the wrong questions doesn’t help anyone.

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