Why Should Your Clients Trust You?

In my March 24 post (Want Client Loyalty? Do Something You Don’t Have To Do) I wrote about trust being the number one driver of client loyalty, and how important it is to put your clients’ needs before your needs and your firm’s needs.

But what is trust and how can you increase it?

My favorite definition of trust is the formula given in the book The Trusted Advisor (David H. Maister, Charles H. Green and Robert M. Galford):

(Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy)


Self Interest

Let’s break that down from the client’s point of view:

Credibility = You know what you’re taking about

Reliability = You do what you said you were going to do

Intimacy = You have taken the time to really understand me

(All divided by)

Self Interest = You give the appearance that you are more interested in what’s in it for you that what’s in it for me

Notice how the the elements in the numerator are additive, but even their combined effect are quickly diminished by the single element in the denominator.

Think of the stereotypical sleazy used car salesman in the loud plaid sport coat:

Even if he knows every feature and benefit of every model on the lot and is a 10 out of 10 on credibility…

Even if he followed up on every question and returned all of your calls promptly and is a 10 out of 10 on reliability…

Even if he asked great questions about what you were looking for, who would be the primary drivers and how much you wanted to spend, so you’d have to give him a 10 out of 10 on intimacy…

…You just couldn’t shake the feeling that he had x-ray vision that saw through you directly to your wallet. Unfortunately, he’s also 10 out of 10 on self interest.

Let’s do the math:

(10 + 10 + 10)

             __________    =  3


A final trust score of 3 out 10 is a far cry from being a trusted advisor. Even though our salesman was best in class in three out of four factors, it hardly matters if his customers feel like they can’t trust him.


Even if you know everything there is to know about the economy, the investment markets and every nuance of financial and estate planning…

Even if you have flawless execution in transactions, reporting and follow-up…

Even if you have assiduously documented every personal and financial fact and nuance about your clients in your comprehensive CRM system…

…you will not have long-term success if your clients don’t feel like they can trust you.

Why should your clients trust you?

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