6 tips to create brilliant first impressions

Sian MacInnes shares her six top tips on how to connect with clients from the very first point of contact, making a great first impression and building lasting relationships.

Sian MacInnes, from Philip James Financial Advisers, is passionate about making first impressions count.

Her commitment to building client relationships from the very first moment has ensured that 100 per cent of her 99 ‘first impression’ reviews on VouchedFor, the adviser ratings site, are positive. This means each of these 99 reviewers have rated their initial contact with Sian 4 stars or higher out of 5. Added to this, Sian’s ‘First Impression’ reviews have helped her amass an impressive 225 total reviews on VouchedFor.

Here, Sian shares her six top tips on how to connect with clients from the very first point of contact, building the strongest possible relationships and making a great first impression.


Sian says that many advisers don’t offer to meet every contact, often because they do not believe that the client will have the necessary level of assets to need help.

However, she believes that no meeting or phone call is ever wasted. “In that first meeting or call – even if the person is not obviously a viable client, you stand to gain a referral or a good first impression review on VouchedFor,”

“In that first meeting or call – even if the person is not obviously a viable client, you stand to gain a referral or a good first impression review on VouchedFor”

she says. “See everyone if you’ve got time.”

She says she often discovers, while talking, that potential clients have more valuable assets than they initially thought, and even if they don’t have need for a financial adviser now, they may do in the future.

“I think everybody in the country should see a financial adviser at least once.”


Almost all advisers offer a free first meeting to prospective clients, but Sian says that these meetings are too often ‘free’, in inverted commas.

“Sometimes advisers say it is a free meeting, but then sit there and take everything for themselves – the meeting is one long, linear fact find,” she says.

“My aim is that, when I’ve left, I’ve been able to give the client something.” Even if Sian discovers that the contact doesn’t need a financial adviser, she says there’s always something helpful she can do.

“Maybe I’ve given them the state pension forecasting address, or ensured they know about getting Attendance Allowance,” she says. “That way, free really means free.”


“It’s easy to blind people with science,” Sian says, so she tries to keep her chats jargon free, so that customers relax and understand.

“I’ve done loads of exams but I don’t need to show my knowledge off to them. I can distil it into user-friendly language,” she says.

She always tries to remember that, in many cases, potential clients are scared about money, which makes it all the more important to keep it focused but simple.


Focussing on people’s own goals instead of how much money they have helps create a good first impression, Sian says.

“Money is a means to an end. Money isn’t the boss – it helps you achieve your goals. When people say  ‘have I got enough money to retire?’, they are making the money drive them.

It’s about changing the emphasis and changing the question around..”

Your job is to make the goals drive the planning. I ask ‘what do you want?’ and think about ways we can do that. It’s about changing the emphasis and changing the question around. The difference is very slight but it relaxes people. They stop seeing the money as the point.”


Ensuring that you follow up after initial meetings can help create a good first impression. “After the free meeting I always write an email, just saying very briefly – this is what I can do for you, and this is what you can do for yourself. Just four or five lines,” Sian says.


While Sian is delighted by her high position on the VouchedFor site, and the large number of positive reviews that drive business, she says that studying the reviews also helps her to become better at meeting new clients and giving them what they want,

VouchedFor is a bit like Tripadvisor and it creates a virtuous circle. If you get good reviews, you get more clients and even more reviews and you get busier and busier. And you can say to clients ‘look at what people are saying’,” she says. “But you can also look at them yourself and say ‘they like that’ and then ensure you carry on doing it!”

VouchedFor allows its users to filter reviews by the lifestage, wealth level and needs of reviewers. This helps with this learning process as well as helping consumers using the site read the most relevant reviews for them.

Read some of Sian’s ‘first impression’ reviews visit her profile, scroll down and filter reviewer type by ‘first impressions’

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