Finding out what’s important

Dale Carnegie said in his excellent book, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Remember that the man you are talking to is a hundred times more interested in himself and his wants and his problems than he is in you and your problems.

His toothache matters more to him than a famine in China that kills a million people. A boil on his neck interests him more than forty earthquakes in Africa. Think of that the next time you start a conversation.

Reading that in print seems very harsh and but to a degree he is right. People are more interested in their own problems than the troubles of others, that is the way we are. Another way of looking at it, is when we are talking to people, we prefer to talk about ourselves. Realising this has  made a massive difference to how I work with my clients.

One of the many Central Bank requirements that financial advisors have to fulfill is to “know the consumer”. This usually takes the form of completing a factfind, a document with loads of boxes to fill in numbers about your money. I used to use it purely as a compliance exercise and it was like pulling teeth for both me and the client.

Then I read about how interested people are in themselves and factfinding became really interesting and a key part of how I am able to advise my clients in the best possible way. Instead of asking them about their money, I asked clients to tell me about themselves. How have you got to where you are now, are you happy with what you are doing? Is there anything you would change? What do you love doing when you are not working? What’s the best holiday you ever had? Why haven’t you done something like that since?

When people start talking about things they have an interest in, they talk forever. By knowing what is important to my clients and how they plan to spend their money, I can advise them on the best way to save it, so they have the cash there when it is spending time.

If you have any questions, drop me an email at