Without trust, there can be no relationship between an advisor and a client, says Rosemary Smyth, founder of Rosemary Smyth and Associates in Victoria.

Gaining the trust of your clients is key to building your business and retaining the relationships you have.

Says Smyth: “Trust is a core component of what we do for people in terms of [managing] assets, and making sure we ethically look after them.”

How will you know you have achieved a high level of trust with your clients? Smyth offers the three key signs of trust — and what to do if these signs are not evident:

1. Clients are willing to provide referrals
Don’t underestimate the significance of your clients’ willingness to talk about you with friends and family members. When your clients speak about you positively, Smyth says, they are putting their own judgment on the line.

If your clients are not providing referrals, it is not necessarily a sign of mistrust. They may be unaware that you are taking new clients, so you must inform them. A good time to broach this subject is after your clients have expressed satisfaction with a service you provide.

For example, you are wrapping up a review meeting and your clients indicate they are happy with the financial plan you established. You can tell your clients that you enjoy helping people like them; if they know someone who would benefit from speaking with you, you would be happy to chat.

2. Clients accept your recommendations and advice
Technological advancements in the financial services industry have given your clients a greater choice in how their money is managed. “With online trading, you can do it yourself,” Smyth says. “So the fact they’re paying you to [manage investments] is important.”

Do you have clients who disagree with your ideas constantly? These clients might have difficulty accepting your recommendations because they don’t understand how those ideas fit their objectives. Put a little extra effort in explaining those proposals and encourage questions.

For example, you have recommended that your client increase the amount of money he invests in his RRSP. But the client resists, believing that retirement is so far away. To demonstrate your point, calculate the difference in compounded growth between maintaining current investment levels and your recommended increase. You are more likely to persuade the client to follow your advice if he can see the benefits in writing.

3. Clients are willing to give you all of their assets
If clients are comfortable depending solely on you for financial guidance, they are demonstrating a high level of trust.

If, on the other hand, you know you’re one in a group of advisors for certain clients, try to determine why these client use additional advisors. Is your client looking for a service that you do not provide — such as insurance or financial planning for small businesses? Consider adding that service to your practice.