This post was authored by Charlotte Stark, a Dunham Marketing Communications Associate, as part of the Dunham Foundations Series. If you have questions concerning today's topic, please call us at (858) 964 - 0500. Hold us to a higher standard.

There is an endless number of questions you could potentially ask a client to get to know them. Each person's life is a complex web of beliefs, causes, concerns, and life events that make them who they are and define their plans for the future. By focusing on 6 categories of information, it's possible to take an organized approach to learning client information that will help you provide comprehensive service.

Category 1: Goals

This is a foundational category for your client services. Knowing your client's short- and long-term goals and how you can help accomplish them will ultimately set the tone for your relationship going forward. Make sure you have a list of goal-based questions ready for initial client meetings, as well as a list of goal update questions to ask after life events may have changed their initial answers.

Category 2: Relationships

While this can be a touchy subject, understanding which relationships your client prioritizes will help you suggest the right strategies to them. This category also extends past family and can also include friends, religious institutions, or other charitable organizations that matter most.

Category 3: Assets

As one of the most obvious categories of questioning, it can be easy to overlook some of the nuances of asset-centric questions. For example, asking in whose name (the client's or a family member's) the asset are registered, diversified income sources, and the potential for change are all excellent avenues for learning more.

Category 4: Advisors

Assessing a client's current relationship with other advisors will give you a better idea of how they're already managing their goals. Additionally, if they have recently moved from one advisor to another, learning what part of their previous relationship wasn't working for them can help you avoid costly mistakes in the future.

Category 5: Process

Take the time to get to know what contact methods work for your client - do they prefer to be contacted by phone, email, or text? How many times a year do they want to hear from you? How often are you expected to be on-call? By learning how your client prefers to operate, you can make sure you are always on the same page when communication about their accounts.

Category 6: Interests

Though potentially less pressing than assets or process, getting to know your client as a human being rather than a potential transaction will speak volumes about your own character. Get to know what your client likes, what you have in common, and remember to follow up on these things every now and again. Remember: you're the human element in the middle of a lot of financial information. Being personable and genuinely invested in who your clients are will help put them at ease and build trust.

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