How Financial Advisors Can Connect with Blue-Collar Clients

Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter)

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In this guide for financial advisors, we’re going deep on understanding and connecting with that always overlooked blue-collar market. I’m talking your construction workers, tradesmen, mechanics, laborers – the beating heart that keeps our economy pumping day in and day out. But do we understand this market?

Like when I first started out as a financial advisor, I made every mistake trying to sign my father-in-law’s mechanic shop called Wolfe Transmission in Toronto. I wore my uptown Wolf-of-Wall-Street getup, had a fancy leather briefcase, and a pitch deck full of financial industry jargon. I was all wrong for that room, my friends. That meeting was a blue-collar disaster, I’ll tell you that!

So how do we step into the steel-toed boots of the blue-collar client and truly harness that relationship? In this guide, my friend John Saikaley, a financial advisor who has been working in the financial industry for over 25 years, and I, will break down the tricks, tactics, ideas, key points, and mindset on how to connect effectively with blue-collar clients.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover. Many blue-collar workers have complex financial needs and substantial assets built up. Take time to understand their full situation before making assumptions.
  • Lose the fancy suits and jargon. Dress smart casual, meet in informal spots like coffee shops or pubs, and explain concepts simply without financial industry lingo. This helps humanize yourself.
  • Don’t try to close sales in one meeting. Take your time building genuine trust and rapport over weeks or months. Avoid high pressure sales vibes early on.
  • Dig deep to understand what really matters in their lives. Follow up and check in on meaningful details. This shows you see them as real people, not just a commission.
  • Use everyday stories and analogies they recognize to simplify complex money concepts. This helps them grasp and apply financial advice.
  • Explain how financial protections bring peace of mind knowing they can keep the lights on if business fluctuates. This stability resonates more than chasing risky returns.
  • Become a familiar face by showing up where they congregate locally after work and on weekends. Nurture those long term connections for referrals.
Tactic Description
Understand their pain points Blue-collar clients worry about income instability, rising costs of living eroding wages, high taxes, saving for retirement without pensions. Take time to ask about and empathize with their top financial concerns. Ask open-ended questions during initial small talk: "What keeps you up at night financially?" "What's your biggest worry for your family?" Identify 3-4 top issues.
Speak plainly Avoid complex industry jargon and talk to blue collar clients like real people using simple, straightforward language. Complex terms and concepts can intimidate. Prepare 2-3 sentence explanations of key products / services using basic terms. Have analogies ready to explain concepts simply.
Ask questions and listen Draw them out with open-ended questions to understand their priorities before launching into a sales pitch. Listening builds trust and rapport. Spend first meeting just asking questions and listening. Take notes on what matters to them. Follow up with relevant solutions.
Treat them with respect Don't assume they have less money or knowledge just because they have labor jobs. All people appreciate feeling valued and helped. Compliment their skills / work. Validate their concerns. Provide world-class service and products suited to their needs.
Relate as equals You're not better than them just because you wear a suit. Meet in casual settings like job sites or taverns to establish common ground. Research their industr y/ role challenges. Use relatable humor. Find common interests besides work to bond over.
Solve key problems Offer concise solutions to their top financial issues like life insurance, retirement and college saving vehicles, debt reduction. Present 1-3 affordable and effective products or services that specifically address pain points they shared.
Build genuine rapport Earn their trust over multiple interactions, not overnight. Get to know what matters to them beyond just finances. Meet twice before formal presentation. Share personal stories / interests to find commonalities. Follow up post-sale with no strings attached.
Adjust appearance Read the room. Consider wearing a polo or smart casual attire rather than power suits if it intimidates who you are meeting with. Learn company dress code in advance. Mirror client's level of formality - within reason. Focus on making them comfortable.
Follow through Respond promptly to requests, do what you commit to, check in regularly even after the sale. Reliability builds loyalty. Set timeline expectations. Overcommunicate updates. Book next visit while still together. Exceed promises.
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Contact details
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Why is Blue-Collar Clients a Major Opportunity for Financial Advisors?

When I started out going door-to-door selling life insurance way back when, I learned real quick that blue collar folks represent a totally underserved market. These folks – the construction crews, shop owners, contractors – they’re some of the most dedicated yet overlooked prospects out there. But too often, many financial advisors take one look at their jeans and boots and cast them aside.

Here’s why, I think, connecting with blue-collar clients represents a major, underserved market opportunity:

For one, through years of blood, sweat and toil, these folks have built up significant assets, property, and money in the bank. We ain’t talking chump change either. My friend John has seen many of them accumulate substantial assets.

But too often blue-collar folks don’t get access to traditional pensions, retirement plans, or stable benefits like your typical office worker. So there’s this huge divide in play.

Also, they tend to feel real uncomfortable navigating all the complex financial systems that you and I take for granted. To many of them it’s all mumbo jumbo and smoke and mirrors.

That leads them to be really wary of financial advisors all dressed up trying to impress. They see us suits and immediately throw up walls. So rather than sophisticated solutions blue-collar folks clearly have the means for, they stick to plain vanilla savings accounts and GICs just to play it safe. But there’s a massive disconnect there from what they could be doing in terms of wealth transfer, tax and estate planning, and funding retirement the right way. They need that education and guidance.

Which brings me to the last point – connecting with these blue-collar folks has to start with building real trust and understanding. Tailoring financial advice to what matters most to them. This is where I see most financial advisors and firms that try to target this audience fail. Many fail to connect with the blue-collar workers on a human level. Connecting with blue-collar clients requires moving beyond assumptions and embracing empathy, in my opinion.

INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS
Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter)
Reh Bhanji (CFP, CLU)

National Best Practice Leader at Desjardins

Blue-Collar Clients' Financial Pain Points and Needs

No question these blue-collar clients have zero time to get their heads around investments and insurance. Heck, many are scared off by a few fancy words from a suit wearing financial advisor. Most financial advisors make that mistake early on, like me!

Having met many blue-collar folks, John and I have seen firsthand the financial struggles these hardworking people face. So when dealing with the blue-collar clients, financial advisors have to keep in mind these are hardworking people who don’t always have the easiest time navigating personal and professional finances. That’s where we can help!

Many blue-collar workers are coping with income volatility in seasonal trades or small businesses without traditional workplace benefits. Saving regularly is difficult but emergency funds provide stability when unexpected expenses arise. Debt reduction may also be a priority, especially when high interest credit cards and loans were used to bridge gaps.

Blue-collar workers concerns - INFOGRAPHIC

Blue-collar workers concerns. Source: Express Employment Professionals

Too often, contractors get overlooked by banks when trying to finance major purchases like homes. And when it comes to financial literacy around investing or retirement planning advice, let’s just say there’s tons of room for improvement. Illustrating projected costs and the benefits of maximizing savings today resonates powerfully.

I witness many kitchen table conversations from advisors like John who has had plumbers, contractors, and shop owners where they confess how the nature of manual labor takes a physical toll, where health problems or injuries can further strain finances. Absenteeism and poor lifestyle habits become just another financial pressure point.

More than anything, blue-collar workers value authenticity and relationships first. If you’re some hot shot know-it-all who can’t relate to their situation, good luck winning their trust and business!

To sum it up, these are the main blue-collar clients’ financial pain points and needs based on my and John’s experience:

  • Irregular income makes it crazy hard for blue-collar folks to budget properly. When the work dries up for a bit or hours get cut, then savings just aren’t happening. Living cheque to cheque is the reality for many blue-collar folks.
  • In this economy, high interest credit card or loan debt is what blue-collar workers use to fill income gaps. But that stuff adds up fast when you’re already just scraping by. It’s a nasty cycle, man.
  • Retirement feels like some pipe dream when you’re focused on putting food on the table now. And often no one’s ever explained to blue-collar folks how to actually start saving and investing for later in life.
  • Investments, insurance, financial lingo? Foreign languages. Most blue-collar folks find all that way too confusing and haven’t a clue where to start educating themselves.
  • Many have been hustled before by advisors pushing products and using fancy terms they don’t get. That used car salesman vibe is a major turn off. Take it from Herb Tarlic from WKRP in Cincinnati!
  • When work slows down, injuries happen on the job, or the car breaks down, many blue-collar workers don’t have emergency savings to tap into. It’s crisis time.
  • Many contractors and small business owners have no cushy workplace health plans or disability coverage as a fallback. If they can’t work, income stops fast.
  • Huge gaps in income protection if injuries or illness occur. Most don’t have adequate or any insurance coverage.
  • Extremely difficult to qualify for a mortgage with up and down income. Banks get spooked. Tapping home equity to finance stuff usually happens.
  • Owing taxes freaks everyone out! But very few financial advisors truly help blue-collar folks leverage tax-friendly retirement savings strategies.

The bottom line is that through first-hand experiences, I’ve seen the array of struggles blue collar workers face. There’s no question it impacts their stability and future financial independence. Your goal, as a financial advisor, is to try to ease some of those pain points through education and solutions tailored to their situations.

INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS
Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter)
Reh Bhanji (CFP, CLU)

National Best Practice Leader at Desjardins

Best Practices for Connecting with Blue-Collar Clients as a Financial Advisor

Connecting with blue-collar clients requires a nuanced approach compared to traditional financial planning relationships. These guys are the backbone of our economy but under-appreciated!

Here are the best practices for financial advisors seeking to better serve blue-collar clients:

1. Check your biases, don't judge a book by its cover.

It’s real tempting to see a construction worker covered in dirt and think they don’t have complex financial needs. Can’t have that mindset! Many blue-collar folks make serious cash, I’m talking high 6 figures, and have all kinds of concerns around protecting their family, reducing taxes, retirement and want to leave a lasting legacy for their family Discovery Series – Leaving a Lasting Legacy Using PAR. Take time to spit game and understand their full situation before making assumptions. You might be pleasantly surprised.

2. Lose financial advisor power suits and briefcases.

Even the suits and leather briefcases many of us finance heads rock can intimidate some blue-collar clients and put up barriers. To connect better, dress smart casual with some polos and jeans, leave the cufflinks and briefcase back at the office, and kick it with them in informal spots like coffee shops or pubs where they’ll be more comfortable. This helps humanize yourself.

3. Avoid jargon. Use visual aids and technology to simplify complex money concepts.

Financial services industry just loves fancy terms like universal life, capital gains exemptions or participating whole life policies. But for most blue-collar clients, it’s just alphabet soup. Use simple language to clearly explain concepts with simple terms they recognize from their work. Construction and sports analogies can also help put things into everyday examples they grasp better. Patience is key though.

And when it comes to explaining complex money concepts, use visuals like video PDFs to break it down step-by-step rather than just words. John sketches things out on napkins if need be! Making things visual improves understanding and clarity tenfold. And then the lightbulb really goes off!

As John said, even lawyers and doctors who seem all knowledgeable don’t always get money stuff. So for blue-collar crews, use simple analogies they recognize. John called participating whole life “GICs on steroids” which clicked for his builder clients used to buying GICs.

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4. Don't try to close a client in one meeting.

Here’s the deal, when connecting with the blue-collar clients, you can’t just hustle these folks to sign on the dotted line in one sit-down. Take your time nurturing real trust and rapport over weeks or months. These are real salt-of-the-earth people who care about making personal connections before considering any big financial moves.

So chill on the high pressure sales vibes off the bat. Kick back those first chats just connect about family, sports, whatever makes them relaxed. Meet them where it’s chill. For example John often meets construction worker clients at little Italy in Ottawa while they unwound over great food and beers after a long day on the site. No pressure atmosphere. That’s how you earn trust and get to what matters over weeks or months.

5. Show you care beyond business.

And you best believe you show these blue-collar folks you care about them and their loved ones way beyond any compensation. Dig deep when they share what’s really good or struggling in their lives.

Ask thoughtful questions about their kids, health, job demands, retirement plans and in-laws. Hit them back remembering and checking in on those details. That shows you really listening and caring. Goal is building genuine human connections so they know you see them as real people first, not just a check.

6. Leverage storytelling and relatable examples to explain concepts.

Now all these insurance policies and market volatility concepts can be foreign for the blue-collar clients. So simplify things using everyday stories and examples they can relate to. Like comparing buying term versus whole life insurance to leasing versus financing a reliable new truck for the family or business.

Share stories of other successful local small business owners or contractors who came up good because they had key person insurance when some unexpected loss popped off. These real-world narratives help them see clear why having the right financial protections in place matters in their lives.

7. Ask questions first to understand their priorities.

As John said on the Discovery Series podcast by Desjardins, too many financial advisors in this business think they got all the answers before even understanding what a client truly needs. Rookie move. Just asking questions about their situation and listening to what’s important to them. No product pitch.

John had a client who wanted to move her investments to some covered call strategy her stepson suggested. John didn’t assume he knew what was best – he asked questions, listened first and realized that strategy wasn’t aligned with her goals or profile.

The goal is about understanding their priorities and world first through questions. Once you fully grasp what matters most to them, then start proposing options customized to their needs. Questions over assumptions!

8. Highlight stability and peace of mind as benefits over returns.

Now real talk, I know many financial advisors love flexing rates of return, dividends, and market projections. But let’s keep it real – that fancy talk makes most blue-collar folks’ eyes glaze over. From what John has noticed, for many of his construction worker clients, it’s more about stability – knowing they can keep the lights on if the economy gets tight or material costs fluctuate. Diversification is key to the conversation.

So highlight how having the right protections in place brings major peace of mind. And how you can structure and manage things to ensure their money’s working as hard as they bust their hump out on the site each day, with little chance of losing what they earned through sweat equity. That stability resonates way more than chasing risky returns.

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9. Use humor and bring authenticity to blue-collar client communications.

John Saikaley is passionate about this work because he genuinely want to see his blue-collar clients win. And you best believe he brings humor and good vibes to these chats to keep it light! He cracks jokes about his shiny head. He debates whether LeBron could beat MJ one-on-one. And he remembers little things too – ask about their kids’ hockey team or how their repair shop is doing that quarter.

That realness and laughter helps them know John is not just some stiff suit reading a script. When they kick it like old friends at the pub, that’s where the authenticity comes through and real relationships happen.

11. Get out of the office and develop community ties.

One real key to connecting with the blue-collar clients is developing ties in their communities. I’m talking becoming a familiar face at their local restaurants, little leagues, union halls. Showing up at the spots where they naturally congregate after work and on weekends. Grab a brew, cheer on their kid’s hockey team, ask how their latest passion project is going.

The more you show a genuine interest in what matters locally, the more these communities and organizations will embrace you as one of their own. And that’s where the foundation for real relationships and trust starts happening.

Plant seeds and nurture those community connections for months or even years. That’s the long term winning formula.

11. Embrace blue-collar values and culture.

Working in this niche market requires moving beyond assumptions and taking time to embrace the cultures and values within blue-collar communities. Whether long-time construction crews, immigrant families, union workers or other groups – you need to take time to recognize what makes them tick.

If Sunday dinner with nonna is big, respect that tradition when scheduling meetings. Adapt your style to resonate with their loyalty, transparency, family-first perspectives. Make the effort to understand them, and the doors will open wide. Judgement closes doors quick though.

12. Show blue-collar clients you understand their industries.

Now if you are really trying to earn trust with the blue-collar clients, know that these hard working men and women pour their soul into the job day in and day out. Whether it’s wrenching on cars in the transmission shop or laying bricks in the blazing heat.

Taking time to understand the demands they face, whether it’s physical labor outside or the stress of a packed restaurant kitchen on a Saturday night – that’s how you connect on a human level. And even more importantly, tailor financial solutions to support and protect their livelihood when injuries happen or jobs stall because of weather or whatever may come up. Respect the grind.

Blue-collar workers statistics - INFOGRAPHIC

Blue-collar workers statistics. Source: Express Employment Professionals

13. Use their preferred means of communication.

When it comes to communication, be flexible to adapt to their style and availability rather than just what’s convenient on your calendar as a financial advisor. If they prefer connecting in person over a cappuccino versus lengthy emails or phone calls after a long shift, so be it.

And here’s a key point – while many blue-collar workers aren’t parked in front of a computer all day, they tend to always have their mobile phones handy. So texting or having phone conversations may connect better than lengthy emails for many. The key is communicating on their preferred channels, whether phone, text, in-person, video or even via social media. Meet them where they’re at, literally and figuratively.

14. Community ties and word-of-mouth referrals can spread quickly.

Tapping into their trusted community ties is a great way to connect with the blue-collar clients. I’m talking extended friends networks, family members, neighbors, etc. Word of mouth referrals spread fast once you get plugged into those circles.

Rather than cold calling strangers, take time to get to know the influencers. Break bread with the uncle who works the line at the plant. Buy a round for the cousin who runs the local body shop. Build real rapport so they vouch for you when cousin Jimmy is looking for life insurance advice. Leverage the connections of one to influence many.

Custom branding
Showcase your brand.
Video narrations
Easily video-narrate PDF presentations or key documents when needed (otherwise video is optional). Redo slide if you made a mistake. Use built-in teleprompter to record longer videos.

Data rooms
Attach any supporting files and links. Make it easy for your prospects and clients to find the right information quickly.

Company profiles
Create company profiles with custom banners and info-packages tailored to different industries.
Contact details
Show your contact info easily accessible by your prospects and clients.
Custom CTAs
Add custom CTAs to drive prospects or clients to your calendar, sign up form, etc.
Engagement analytics
See how prospects and clients interact with your PDFs.

Feedback and Reactions
Collect feedback from prospects and clients. Feedback and reactions are not publicly visible.
Share PDFs
Share any existing PDF presentations and documents.
Live links
Share with a single link. Update files even after sharing your link. Get notified when your PDF is viewed. Turn off access anytime.

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Conclusion

As John Saikaley shared on the Discovery Series podcast, his journey to success has parallels to the underdog horse Rich Strike overcoming huge odds to win the 2022 Kentucky Derby at 80-1. Nobody expected the horse to even make the race, yet he seized an unexpected opportunity and ran his heart out when given the chance.

Similarly, John never gave up on fighting for his blue-collar clients over his 25+ year career in the financial industry, even when people underestimated his potential. He stayed passionate about making a difference in his clients’ lives, while remaining true to his outgoing, authentic personality that builds rapport with blue-collar folks from all walks of life.

John didn’t let preconceived limitations hold him back, instead relentlessly working to grow his skills so he could best serve blue-collar client needs. Just as Rich Strike tuned out the naysayers and achieved the improbable, John realized “I kept fighting. I never gave up. And so the mindset that I had was, well, if this guy could do a million dollars, why can’t I do a million dollars?” through perseverance, focus, and self-belief.

At the end of the day, successfully connecting with blue-collar clients as a financial advisor is all about earning trust by showing you genuinely care. John’s journey has shown that embracing communities with humility and compassion bears fruit. He’s been fortunate to work with incredible everyday folks by simply being himself. My wish is that these best practices help other financial advisors also form lifelong client bonds by first seeing the human beyond the occupation.

FAQs

What defines a blue-collar client?

Blue-collar clients are typically manual laborers like construction workers, mechanics, general contractors, and other hourly wage workers without pensions or generous benefits. They face financial challenges from fluctuating incomes, limited insurance, saving for retirement, and protecting their assets.

Financial advisors should connect with blue-collar clients because it is a large underserved market. Many blue-collar jobs pay six figures, yet blue-collar workers face challenges like fluctuating incomes, limited pensions, and minimal financial literacy where advisors can provide value with tailored planning.

Financial advisors can earn trust with blue-collar clients by avoiding suits and briefcases, using minimal industry jargon, focusing conversations on relationship building over quick sales, and meeting in informal settings like diners, bars, and coffee shops where blue-collar clients feel more comfortable opening up.

A conversational tone using simple, easily understood language resonates best with blue-collar clients. Financial advisors should meet clients on their preferred communication channels like texting or talking in informal settings. Avoiding industry jargon and relating concepts through analogies improves clarity.

Financial advisors can leverage blue-collar connections by getting to know their extended friends, families and trusted networks. Word of mouth referrals spread fast once financial advisor builds rapport with key influencers. Rather than cold outreach, nurture relationships within tight-knit communities for referrals.

Financial advisors should minimize highlighting credentials when initially connecting with blue-collar clients. Focus should first be establishing rapport through relatability and authenticity. Industry credentials can seem intimidating. Advisors can educate on designations later once trusted relationships are built.

Disclaimer: The following information is being presented on the understanding that it is intended for information purposes only. None of the presenters or Desjardins Insurance has been engaged for the purpose of providing legal, taxation, or other professional advice. No one should act upon the examples/information without a thorough examination of the legal/tax situation with the appropriate professional advisors.

About the Author

Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter), a veteran in the insurance and financial advisory industry, boasts over 25 years of experience. His journey began in 1998 at Imperial Life Financial in Toronto, ON, where he managed over $40 Million in annuity assets. His prowess quickly earned him a promotion to Team Leader in 2002, where he led a team of financial advisors. In 2005, Reh’s expertise propelled him to the role of Regional Sales Director at Desjardins Financial Security. In this role, he was responsible for training financial advisors and driving life and health insurance sales through strategic marketing and business development. His commitment to financial advisor education was further exemplified between 2007 and 2009, serving as Vice President for Education at Advocis Toronto (The Financial Advisors Association of Canada). In 2012, he became Senior Regional Sales Director at Desjardins Financial Security. At Desjardins, he managed the company’s largest account and developed key sales strategies and business building techniques for life and health insurance solutions. His exceptional leadership skills led to his 2020 promotion to National Best Practice Leader at Desjardins Financial Security, where he spearheaded the coaching and development of sales processes across the national network. In 2021, Reh expanded his influence as the host of the award-winning Discovery Series Podcast by Desjardins, providing a platform for industry-leading financial advisors to share their strategies, success stories, and industry leading insights.

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