3 Big Mistakes Financial Advisors Make That Lead to a Poor First Impression

poor first impressionMr. and Mrs. Jones arrived promptly at Jim’s office, seeking an initial meeting to determine if they would hire him as their new financial advisor. Things appeared to go well. Handshakes were exchanged, questions were asked, smiles were evident, yet Jim did not get the business. Why?

Jim came to our coaching call feeling despondent. We’d been working on prospecting strategies for a few months and to all appearances things were happening. The phone was ringing. Inquires were being made. But this effort was not leading to new clients. I had to find out why.

I asked Jim to call the Jones’ and inquire as to why they had not hired him. Was it a competitive issue? Did they hire a competitor? Was it a personality issue? Did they not like Jim? Most advisors would not make the effort to discover why a prospect had not signed on the dotted line.

What did Jim learn about WHY he didn’t get the business? Jim’s office was not in the best part of town and even worse, the building was poorly maintained and his office décor was dated. Jim had failed to make a good first impression!

Could you be making a big mistake or error in judgment by not creating a beneficial first impression with prospective clients? Could you be unintentionally turning off clients by creating an inferior atmosphere in your office?


How is your phone answered? I had a west coast client years ago who allowed his assistant to answer the phone in an unprofessional manner. The impression one received when calling was that the interruption was too much to bear. The assistant came off as lazy and amateurish, as though her work were more important than you, leaving one feeling that she would transfer your call when she darned-well felt like it. Irritation was evident in her tone of voice.

Have you ever acted like a mystery shopper to call your own office? How did you feel? Were you treated as though your call was important? Was the receptionist’s voice pleasant and helpful? If not, create a procedure for how the phone is to be answered in your place of business.

Office Décor

Pretend you are an affluent prospective client. Walk the path taken by your prospects from the time they enter your parking lot to the point where they sit down for a meeting with you. Is the parking lot in good repair? Is the landscaping attractive? Is the elevator clean?

Once inside your office, is there pleasant music playing? Are guests invited to accept coffee or tea? Are beverages served in glass or porcelain rather than a Styrofoam cup? Are guests engaged in pleasant conversation or are they ignored?

Are your office decorations attractive? Is there sufficient space for a couch and coffee table in your waiting area? Do you have artwork on the walls and rugs on the floors? Does your conference room contain a conference table rather than a comfortable living area so that clients feel at home?

Website Connection

What are you telling your prospective clients by the quality of your website design? Template websites are for attracting run-of-the-mill prospects. Custom websites are for attracting better quality clients. In this wired world we live in, an attractive website is far more important than it used to be. When a client is referred to you the first thing they will do is look you up on the internet. If they land on a website lacking an attractive design and interesting content, they may subconsciously feel that you are not the perfect advisor for them.

If, however, your site is well-thought out and attractively designed, you will establish “instant credibility” and garner trust before prospects set foot in your door. If you’ve put effort into your bio and headshot you will establish a connection prior to the first meeting.

Making a good first impression is about planning what will happen BEFORE you first meet with prospective clients, not after. Look at your practice with a critical eye to determine if you are failing in the way your phones are answered, how your office is decorated, and how you are portraying your firm through your website. Ask colleagues, family, or your best clients for a critical assessment of their first impression of your business.

Don’t be like Jim. Make a good first impression and pre-sell new clients before they set foot in your door.

About Suzanne Muusers