You’re not going out like that are you?
How much thought do you give to what you wear? I’m not talking about how long you spend in front of your wardrobe each morning… What I mean is, how does what you wear impact on your relationship with your client? Let’s have a little chat about that suit of yours…
Why does everyone wear suits?
In financial services, the standard dress seems to be a suit. When I go to conferences, I see people from all sorts of professions wearing them. Ever wondered why? It’s because, back in the day, it used to be about wearing your Sunday best to go out and do business. Over time, suits just became the norm because everybody could wear them – they were reasonably accessible and they are a great leveler. Let’s face it, if everyone’s wearing the same, and looking the same, we feel a bit more comfortable, don’t we?
And it’s been that way for so long that it’s got to the point (in certain professions) where everybody is just expected to wear a suit. We even find it strange when people don’t.
Take your accountant or solicitor, for example. If they turned up in their Kappa tracksuit and Adidas Sambas, you’d probably think, “hang about, I’m not really sure my accountant should be dressing like that….!”
Suits are a uniform and scream ‘EXPERT!’
The fact is, suits are worn by so many professionals that they’ve become a bit like a uniform. But do we, as Lifestyle Financial Planners, want to be in a uniform? Let’s think about that for a minute.
When someone wears a uniform, it triggers a response. If you see someone in a military or enforcement uniform (like a police officer) your subconscious reaction is to defer to their authority – their uniform tells you that they have greater authority than you do. If they tell you to do something, you do it.
Similarly, if you see a surgeon, dressed in scrubs, that’s their uniform. Your immediate reaction will be to defer to their superior medical knowledge – if they tell you something medical, you believe them. And you’ll probably feel less likely to challenge them because their uniform is telling you that they know their stuff.
Their uniforms show that they are the experts.
So, how does your suit make your client feel?
If you’re wearing a suit, your client will see it a bit like a uniform. Your relationship with them will shift and, in your client’s eyes, your suit will elevate you. Then what? They will see you as the expert and will immediately feel that they should defer to your superior professional knowledge. Without even realising, your client will begin to feel a little submissive.
Now if you’re an accountant, or solicitor, then that’s probably okay. It will tell your client that you have a more superior financial or legal knowledge than they do. I get that.
But, you’re not an accountant or a solicitor – you’re a Lifestyle Financial Planner.
You’re not actually the expert, are you?
Who’s really the expert? In the room, which one of you is the expert when it comes to your client’s life, their hopes, dreams, anxieties and plans for the future? It’s not you. It’s them.
So, if you wear a suit for a great Lifestyle Financial Planning session, does that set the right tone or relationship? Do you really want to be saying, “Look at me! I have superior knowledge – you can tell by my suit…”
- Our job is to help remove any blockages and obstacles for your client. Your client is the only one who knows all the answers to the big, important, human questions and we need to help them realise that they have the knowledge – they are the only ones that know what sort of life they want. And we need to do everything we can to help them find those human answers from inside.
- If we elevate ourselves by wearing a suit, our clients will see us as the experts and will look to us for the answers to the big human questions. It’ll make your job 10 times harder!
So, pop that uniform back in your wardrobe
Do we have to think about how we dress? Yes! Do we need to think carefully about the impact of any uniform that we may wear for a Lifestyle Financial Planning session? Yes! Remember, it should be a human session – your client needs to feel relaxed, empowered, excited and able to freely explore their vision for their future. They need to feel like they are the expert.
Here’s the ultimate test
If you can’t decide if what you’ve been wearing counts as a ‘uniform’ or not, think about this: if you go home on an evening and you feel the need to take off whatever you’ve been wearing for work because it feels a bit uncomfortable, you’ve probably been wearing a uniform.
Wear something that reflects you as a human being – something that feels right for a human session with your client. Something that doesn’t elevate you as the expert.
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