Effective communication between client and advisor is fundamental to the financial advising process. Good communication skills are assumed to be employed by advisors, but in practice these skills have seldom been defined explicitly and are often absent in advisors’ repertoire of client relationship techniques. This article presents an overview of five key skills for learning about clients and opening up sensitive areas safely and productively: discovery-focused interviewing, communicating clearly about the process of advising, speaking the client’s language, listening actively and passively, and managing yourself. These skills are premised on the belief that relationships with clients must delve not only into financial areas but also the emotional perspectives of clients and their families.

By Dennis T. Jaffe, Ph.D. and James Grubman, Ph.D.

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