This is what you must do in your first meeting with a prospect

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

One of our partner IFAs (Independent Financial Advisor) recently took my colleague for a meeting with his friend Rajesh (Names and numbers have been changed). Rajesh had a Rs.1 Crore portfolio with some other advisor who had been giving him products for the last 10 years. Our IFA told my colleague “Rajesh is not my client yet but he has shared his portfolio with me. These are the gaps and these are the products that my friend needs”.

My colleague asked the IFA “How do you know your friend needs this without a detailed discussion of his goals, current situation, and his risk profile (risk capacity + behaviour)? Most importantly you don’t even know if Rajesh is your ideal client”. She then told him that the objective of the first meeting is


  1. To Sell a Product
  2. To Keep Talking about yourself and Touting your Skills & Accomplishments
  3. To Talk about Products, Markets and Returns

The Real objective of the meeting is to first discover whether this person is indeed your ideal client and then second deliver a superb prospect experience in terms of what it means to deal with a true IFA.

This IFA like most IFAs was just used to talking about new products, markets and how they are better. He was not used to having a conversation with a prospect for 20 minutes without talking about products and markets. I have even seen bankers and wealth managers unable to hold conversations without talking about products.

Think about this for a minute.

“Can you have the entire first meeting (1-2 hours) with a prospect without talking about products? Can you even not talk about it for even 20 minutes?”

My colleague then led the meeting and asked the IFA to observe how the meeting was conducted. She confidently led the meeting by getting the prospect to experience what you really do . She didn’t ask him “How can I help you?” (Why you shouldn’t be asking this question will be a separate post?) but confidently drove the conversation in terms of understanding “Why” was Rajesh investing. He was investing for the last 10 years and had a collection of mutual funds.

It was not surprising but Rajesh could not answer simple but powerful questions –

  • What was he investing for?
  • What was his number (How much was enough for him)?

For the first time in his investing life, someone had made him think about the key issues of personal finance.

It was way past the 1 hour mark and there was no talk of any product that Rajesh would need. There was no discussion of any specific action to be done. Rajesh was made to go through a life changing experience through the power of questions, active listening and a world class visual experience. Rajesh for the first time thought about what was important to him , when would he need money at different points of time , and did he have enough. If he had enough , what did that mean and if he didn’t have enough , what was he supposed to do. Rajesh was now a part of the process co-creating his own plan with the help of a financial coach and his eyes had lit up.

It was Rajesh’s plan (not the Advisor’s Plan that Rajesh was following) and he could see that he could achieve all of the goals that he had set. My colleague had guided Rajesh to figure out that all of his needs would be met by saving and investing an “X” amount of money which he comfortably could. He could even afford to buy his dream car now. Rajesh was delighted to know that he could buy the car of his dreams now without compromising on his other goals.

The IFA could not believe the entire conversation and experience himself. It was 2 hours now and not a single product had been discussed.

What do you think happened next?

Any guesses…

Rajesh instantly signed up to start on his journey as a wise and disciplined investor. He had converted himself from an investor who would ask “What’s new or Aur naya kya hai?” to someone who was clear what he needed to do to achieve his needs and even some of his wants.

This is the real power of a world class experience and your role in the first prospect meeting is not to sell any product or even yourself but to let your clients experience what you really do.

The IFA after coming out of the meeting told my colleague “Madam apne to magic kiya. I have been in this industry for 20 years and have never experienced this. I would love to learn this process and get skilled at this”.