11 Sep A Matter of Trust
Trust! That sought-after secure feeling that belief in another’s moral, emotional and professional values. It’s the key to any fruitful business relationship. Will it be given freely, or must it be acquired?
Let’s ask Alain Roch, President and Founder of the Multi-Family Office and the Blue Bridge Trust Company.
Q.: In your experience, what are the foundations of a trusting relationship?
Based on personal experience, trust develops only if the relationship, whether it be professional or private, is authentic. That is, one must make the decision to seek personal connections that are rooted in honesty and transparency.
Of course, you can earn your client’s trust through the image you project, for example, but this type of trust is superficial and short-lived. I’ll reiterate that, in my opinion, interacting with your clients with sincerity is the cornerstone of building that trust that will bind you together.
Q.: Is this a universal concept or have you observed cultural differences?
There are cultural differences, but the main difference lies in the amount of time it takes an individual to get to know you and build trust. Typically, Northern Europeans, for example, need more time and interactions before giving their trust.
Q.: Is developing trust a long-term endeavour?
More than that, it’s a never-ending effort. The sincerity of your relationship should be reflected in your daily interactions, but also in your strategic decisions, such as asking yourself if your clients will appreciate a merger with a certain company, for example. Your non-business actions will also have an impact: imagine if you were caught driving while intoxicated, for instance.
Q.: What are the parasitic elements that can damage a trusting relationship?
You can’t manage all the risks that come with relationships; therefore, the risk of failure exists. But, once again, if your credo is “the client is king” and you sincerely believe and apply this principle without judging or criticizing your clients, then the risk of breakdown decreases.
Q.: Has the way in which a trusting relationship is built changed since you created Blue Bridge almost 17 years ago?
The way to develop links has evolved, simply because of the proliferation of social media. But trust can only develop very little, if at all, in a virtual world of snapshots and sensationalism. Trust is and will remain a matter of the heart, intention and sincerity.
Q.: Can the proximity that comes with a trusting relationship hinder your objectivity?
Good question! Dependency or subordination shouldn’t be part of a trusting relationship with a client. On the contrary, trust should make it possible to challenge your clients, to propose solutions that may fall outside their field of expertise or their comfort zone. If you are their advisor, the trusting relationship that you have built with sincerity provides the leeway to be candid about your recommendations and, in turn, to be open to their criticism.
Q.: Do you have a last word of conclusion?
To conclude, I will quote the seventeenth-century French writer and statesman, François de La Rochefoucauld, whose words embody my thoughts and call for caution: “Sincerity is an openness of the heart; we find it in very few people; what we usually see is only an artful dissimulation to win the confidence of others.” A word to the wise…