Understanding Clients

For over 25 years, Jim Grubman has assisted wealth managers, financial planners, attorneys, and family-office advisors in honing their skills for helping clients. He has been involved in multiple educational and training programs at all levels of the financial-services and trusts-and-estates fields. He has written many of the seminal articles on client relationship skills in wealth management, together with his long-time colleague and collaborator Dennis Jaffe, Ph.D. (see Resources).

Jim coaches advisors in the core communication skills that truly make a difference for wealthy clients and families. He helps advisors move beyond a focus on just problem-solving to a more skilled level of listening to and understanding clients, including the following:

  • Listening well and reflecting back what the client's real underlying questions and concerns are
  • Being able to use open-ended questions, clarifying questions, and related interviewing skills in an effective discovery process
  • Engaging multiple family members in a dialogue that opens up communication
  • Initiating and growing solid relationships with family members beyond the primary client
  • Handling mistakes or breaches of trust and repairing the relationship effectively (doing what has become known as "A Proper Apology")
  • Minimizing the use of jargon and explaining information clearly to clients of all levels of technical knowledge
  • Engaging in fee discussions that are clear, straightforward, and collaborative

Cross-Cultural Advising and Client Relationships

Financial advisors in the modern world increasingly need to understand cross-cultural principles and procedures as a significant element in the client relationship. In Western societies, more multicultural families are being formed, particularly among high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth populations, requiring knowledge of how culture impacts family dynamics and client relationships with advisors. Around the world, families of wealth and family enterprises arise from one culture but soon encounter other cultures as they send children off to be educated and trained elsewhere. Advisors need to understand these stresses and know how to help families resolve them successfully. Jim assists families and advisors in several important ways:

  • Helping the wealth-creating generation understand the motivations and behaviors of succeeding generations exposed to different economic and ethnic cultures
  • Helping families adapt across generations rather than become stuck in old patterns or mired in unproductive conflict
  • Building relationships with upcoming generations to maintain continuity when succession occurs
  • Sharpening advisors' skills for discussing family issues in all cultures

Helping advisors develop advanced skills for clients of varying backgrounds, cultures and interests.