Scientific studies have shown us that people make snap judgments in a matter of seconds. First impressions are everything, and it’s not just about people; environments influence decision-making as well. If you are meeting with clients and prospects in your office, they'll begin making judgements about you as soon as they enter your space. What does your office say about you?
Accessories bring personality and flavor to an otherwise bland space. Financial planners can improve their office space by adding things such as plants, family pictures, personal objects, or souvenirs to make them more relatable. This doesn’t mean just go up and down the aisles of Walmart and pick out random stuff that you think looks nice. It means placing things in your office that represent your lifestyle, hobbies, and what you find important in life to let clients know that you are a real human with interests outside of making money.
Color is one of the most influential aspects of a comfortable office. As a general rule of thumb people tends to think of lighter colors more positively while darker color can have a negative impact. Blues and violets are known as calming colors, and have been shown to reduce blood pressure and physiological reactions. Financial planning can be stressful for clients, so using a relaxing color-scheme will help them feel more comfortable and open to working with you.
Design and Furniture
The design of the room influences how comfortable or vulnerable a person feels in the space. For example sitting in a chair without armrest can leave the client feeling exposed with no personal space. Also, you sitting at a large desk could create the feeling of a power relationship where the financial planner is in charge. The ideal office space should be one where both the client and planner sit in the same style seating, both facing 45 degrees. It gives an intimate and casual feel that financial services clients prefer over meetings that are set up to feel like an interview or interrogation.
The lighting also plays a role in influencing the mood of your appointments. Natural and full spectrum lighting is recommended because people tend to feel uneasy under fluorescent bulbs as they produce a clinical feeling.
Many advisors are meeting with older clients to help with retirement planning. Because elderly people tend to have lowered physical capabilities, accommodations must be made to make them feel comfortable. Wheelchair ramps and handrails are a must. Avoid low-to-ground seating that will be harder for older clients to get in and out of.
Does your office make prospects and clients feel comfortable? Does it give people a glimpse of your personal life, humanizing you and gaining their trust? Is it set up to accommodate the people you most often work with? If not, it may be time for some interior redesign. Use these basic guidelines and be sure to sprinkle in your own personal taste because customer-experience is an important part of building your brand and differentiating from other advisors.