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Jonathan Bergman: The the art of listening to clients for financial advisors

Within the wealth management industry, mastering the art of listening is not just a skill – it's a fundamental pillar of success.

Understanding the profound importance of active listening lays the foundation for building strong, lasting client relationships, especially for new financial advisors entering the field.

But listening goes beyond merely hearing; it entails empathetically comprehending clients' goals, fears and aspirations. By attentively tuning into clients' needs and concerns, new advisors can tailor their recommendations and strategies effectively, fostering trust and confidence.

In a recent Action! article, Jonathan Bergman, president of the New York-based wealth management firm TAG Associates, shared some insights on navigating the life cycle of a financial advisor. He emphasized the art of listening, especially for advisors who are new to the industry. 

I sat down with with Bergman to learn more. Click on the video below to listen to the conversation. We
delve into why honing the ability to listen attentively is crucial for new financial advisors and explore practical strategies to enhance this essential skill set – ultimately laying the groundwork for long-term success in the advisory profession.



Suleman Din: Beginning those tips for folks who are just starting out in the industry and what they need to do. 

Jonathan Bergman: The best thing to do is read, gain knowledge, and then meet with and observe other advisors. 

Don’t necessarily speak up but try to join as many meetings as possible and observe. And observe the styles of different advisors. Watch them as they navigate through client situations, which may be quite smooth, but often there are difficult conversations that happen in those meetings and trying to be empathetic. 

But in the beginning, silence is very important. Take a lot of mental notes and some written notes as well. In terms of reading, I would suggest reading the Wall Street Journal and Barons. I also read a few hedge fund manager reports and letters that come out quarterly. Warren Buffett obviously has a great letter, but try to read from many different sources, figure out who's providing value to you and where you're learning the most, and continue to read that source. 

Din: If you had one tip for those who are listening, the readers who are going to pick up this magazine and sort of take your points on being a good listener, what would you suggest? 

Bergman: Well, being a good listener is truly listening to the conversation, right? Listening to the client, listening to the lead advisor. Perhaps thinking how you might, what you might say in that situation without necessarily saying it. Again, this is early in your career and you probably haven't had sufficient experience to be an advisor, but it's often good to think, what would I have said in this situation? 

But really listen and watch body language. I'm a huge believer in body language sending signals, and I try to observe what clients, advisors, and people, in general, are saying with their bodies, in addition to what they're saying with their voices and words.

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