Getting Personal: Five Types Of Questions To Open Your Fact Finding Meetings

Five Types of Questions To Open Your Fact Finding Meetings

Over the course of my 12 years as a financial advisor, I conducted 3,512 fact finder meetings. While I love what I do now as a trainer and a speaker, the one thing that I miss most about being an advisor is executing a fact finder meeting with a new prospective client.

I truly believe that being able to connect with a client over a fact finder meeting is a gift, although it comes with the highest level of responsibility. When done correctly, the fact finder meeting is an opportunity to get to know the prospects better – financially and personally – than perhaps anyone has known them.

While there are many aspects to conducting a masterful fact finding meeting, one of the important, yet often overlooked aspects is opening with questions that address the personal and emotional side of it. This should happen after your approach, but prior to going into any types of numbers, finances, or benefits they will receive from your services. This comes down to asking fact finding questions in five categories:

  • Family
  • Career
  • Future Plans and Vision
  • Hobbies
  • Past Experience with Financial Advisors

There are many different types of questions you can ask prospects in this particular section, but the bigger interpersonal risks you take, the deeper you can go, the better planner you can become for them.

Question Category #1: Family

In the family category, there is, of course, the obvious: “Tell me about your spouse, your children, your mother and father.” Get their children’s names and dates of birth. These are typical questions and are good to ask.

However, after you ask the family questions, one of my favorite questions is: “Mr. Prospect, obviously I’m in the business of financial planning, so one of the questions I’d like to start with is, 'Could you tell me a little bit about – even from your first memory – what you learned about money from your parents?'”

Then sit back and listen.

After your prospect has talked for a while, you can ask them questions like, “What do you want to continue doing that you learned from them?” and “What did you learn from them that you absolutely don’t want to repeat?”

Other helpful questions you can ask are “Tell me, Mr. Prospect, what differences do you and your spouse have when it comes to finances? Has this had an impact on your planning?” and “How can a financial advisor like me help with that?” Or you can ask, “If there are no differences, how did you two get connected on your financial planning philosophies?”

These questions provide you with valuable information and are also questions that nobody has asked them before.

Question Category #2: Career

The obvious questions are about what they do for a living. However, many young reps I mentored would come back and tell me that their potential client was an attorney, without knowing what type of law they practiced. They missed out on knowing if their client was a non-profit lawyer, divorce attorney, or a litigator!

I used to teach my mentees to find out details they cannot find on the internet. For example, when asking about a potential client’s career, pose questions such as, “What specific area of law do you litigate?” and “How did you become interested in that? Did you go to school to get into that area specifically or did it just happen?”

Ask about their favorite and least favorite part of the job. These are the types of fact finding questions that will get you to know your potential client. People love to talk about themselves and very rarely does someone genuinely listen and ask interesting questions like these.

Question Category #3: Future Plans and Vision

Simply ask your prospect to describe their career dreams and goals. What do they see themselves doing 5, 10, and 15 years down the road? Ask questions such as, “What do you think might get in the way?” “What excites you about this and what scares you about it?” and “Is there anything I can do to help?”

As a successful financial planner, you should have connections in your community. Perhaps you know people in fields that the prospect is interested in and you might be able to help the prospect get together with your contacts at some point.

Question Category #4: Hobbies

“What do you like to do for fun?” while simple, is actually a great question to ask, because, once again, it helps you to get to know the prospect on a personal level. But you also get to build some similarities.

Keep this point in mind as you ask about their hobbies. For example, if you are both very interested in golf, you probably know some of the same courses and have probably played at some of the same golf clubs. You might even know some of the members at a golf club and can build some connections that way as well.

Question Category #5: Past Experiences with a Financial Advisor

Before getting into the heart of the fact-finder meeting, I like to ask clients about their past experience with financial advisors. Reps should understand what the prospect expects of them.

But if you’re going to ask that question, you must learn how to ask in a way that elicits a genuine and illuminating response, because often all the answers will be similar. “I expected them to be honest.” “I wanted to trust them.” “I didn’t want them to try to always sell me stuff.”

"There are many different types of questions you can ask prospects in this particular section, but the bigger interpersonal risks you take, the deeper you can go, the better planner you can become for them."

When the prospect gives these predictable answers, I think it’s good to say things like, “It’s interesting that you said that.” “Why did you pick that?” “What does that really mean to you?” “Tell me how that would play out.” “Have you had experiences similar to that in the past?”

These are questions – probing for the reasons behind their stock answers – that will help you understand what you must do to work with them.

The Most Important Aspect Of A Fact Finder Meeting

The most important thing an advisor can do during the fact finder meeting is to leave their needs at the door. The fact finding questions above will help you truly focus on getting to know your prospect or client. It’s up to you to listen carefully and really understand everything they say. Giving the gift of your presence and undivided attention is one of the most precious gifts you can give anyone. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will help you better understand how you can help.


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