When you’re looking for new clients, it can be easy to focus on scoring the deal and forget the client. But that is a major mistake — your primary goal should always be to build trust, said “Money Whisperer” Joe McLean at the Inman Connect New York 2020 panel “Why Trust is the Key to Financial Success” at the Marriott Marquis.

Joe McLean

McLean, a managing partner at San Ramon, California-based Intersect Capital, got into financial advising after finishing his college and semipro basketball career with a final season for a Spanish pro team. At the time, he had to make the transition into a different industry and earn trust as a finance expert despite most seeing him as just a sports guy.

“One of my favorite mentors once told me ‘You don’t know nothing about nothing,'” McLean told Barron’s reporter and moderator Carleton English. “It starts with reading, digging in and seeking out other mentors.”

That trust starts, according to McLean, by really listening to clients’ needs. As he started advising ultra-wealthy sports stars, he found that they often felt that a great deal of people in their lives — from their valet to long-lost relatives — were using them by trying to score a rich connection.

So, McLean advises, get away from constantly pitching yourself and trying to “score a deal.” Instead, work on expanding your knowledge in a chosen field — read books, learn from more experienced colleagues and dedicated yourself fully to clients as they start trickling in.

“To build trust, the last thing you should do is say ‘trust me,'” McLean said. “Trustworthiness equals credibility plus reliability plus intimacy all divided by self-orientation.

According to McLean, you do not want to be part of a group of agents all running around a perspective homebuyer trying to pitch your services. Whether they’re a celebrity or a first-time buyer, clients are smart and will be able to smell fakes and attempts to get into their pockets. Instead, develop relationships and network without expecting an immediate sale. Only then will you develop high-quality business connections who trust you and stay with you over the years.

“It’s worth taking the time,” he said. “Those are lifelong relationships that you’re developing both in business and in life.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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