Felix Unger would have had over 100 million in AUM!



Ed Schweitzer, Advisor Consultant

3D/L Financial Group

Maybe I am dating myself here, but I assume you know who Felix Unger is.  If so, you might be wondering just what does a divorced photographer (“portraits a specialty!”) living with a sloppy sportswriter know about sales?

A recent article in RIA Intel addresses the reasons why advisors LOSE clients. Natixis Investments surveyed a diverse group of 300 financial professionals and determined that the two major reasons clients leave are:

  1. Expectations are not met, and
  2. They didn’t feel they were heard or listened to.

From this, the article concludes that it’s not what we TELL clients and prospects…it’s the questions we ASK!

There is an old joke that is so tired, it has become a cliché…but the first  time *I* saw it was back in the 70s:

Scene from “The Odd Couple”

Yeah, it’s an old one, but that’s the first time I heard it!

Never assume that your solution addresses your clients’ or prospects’ actual problems!

In the last decade, I have given more financial education seminars than I can count. I could almost tell the size of an advisor’s book by observing how they interacted with prospects.

When I’d see an advisor listening to the prospects and nodding their heads, I could guess they’d have about 100 million in AUM. Oftentimes, I’d look them up, and see they were more likely at 250 million!

When I’d see an advisor talking away with excitement and animation, I’d know they were less successful. No disrespect meant; when you are knowledgeable about a subject and someone asks you a question, it’s only human nature to want to ANSWER the question. But the successful advisors, through practice and discipline, AVOID answering questions! The idea is to ASK the questions until the prospect comes to their own conclusions.

In the RIA Intel article, Bernard Ferrari, author of the book “Power Listening” says, “Because they’re financial advisors, they’re interested in providing an answer. They mistakenly think that their competence is revealed in their answers rather than being revealed by the questions they ask.”

As an example, let’s consider the case of a middle-aged couple that you know would be financially devastated in case one of them needed an extended stay in a nursing home.

You could start with, “Let’s talk about long-term care insurance; nursing homes in this area cost $10,000 a month,” and continuing with several extremely valid facts and figures as to why a prospect should consider LTC insurance. You could then describe some features and benefits of a particular policy.

A proper method would look more like this:

  • “Do you know anyone who has been in a nursing home?”
  • “How long did they stay there?”
  • “Do you know how much it cost?”
  • “Do you know how they paid for it?”

“Did you know that 45% of the people requiring some form of long-term care are under age 65?”

Notice that those are all closed-end questions. But now, you’ve earned the right to ask open-ended questions…essentially flipping over the to right side of the brain, where decisions are made!

“How would it feel if your spouse had to support the entire family as well as pay for your nursing home?”

Ferrari says, look at it this way: think of the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. “And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.”  Come to think of it, that reminds me of another 70s show: “Columbo”! Next blog post, maybe.

Ferrari advises that at each crossroad, “I would be sure to repeat my process: pausing, resisting my impulse to jump in, probing with questions when appropriate, and steering us toward a better solution.”

Here is the silver bullet: the better the listener, the bigger the book!


The above is the opinion of the author and should not be relied upon as investment advice or a forecast of the future. It is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or implement any investment strategy. It is for informational purposes only. The above statistics, data, anecdotes, and opinions of others are assumed to be true and accurate however 3D/L Capital Management does not warrant the accuracy of any of these. There is also no assurance that any of the above are all-inclusive or complete.  

3D/L does not approve or otherwise endorse the information contained in links to third-party sources. 3D/L is not affiliated with the providers of third-party information and is not responsible for the accuracy of the information contained therein.


Past performance is no guarantee of future results. None of the services offered by 3D/L Capital Management are insured by the FDIC and the reader is reminded that all investments contain risk. The opinions offered above are as of December 21, 2020, and are subject to change as influencing factors change.


More detail regarding 3D/L Capital Management, its products, services, personnel, fees, and investment methodologies are available in the firm’s Form ADV Part 2 (pending final revisions) which is available upon request by calling (860) 291-1998, option 2 or emailing or visiting 3D’s website at

By: Ed Schweitzer