Percentage of rIas ‘very’ or ‘extremely’
concerned about key Issues
financial services and products
Significantly growing assets
Improving client satisfaction
Source: CEG World wide, 2011
believe their advisors are generally courteous. Affluent clients are
looking for true emotional warmth. When asked if their advisors are
warm, 64.3% of highly satisfied clients said yes, while only one-quar-ter of dissatisfied clients had this response. Keep this in mind as you
make your hiring decisions. If your staff needs help in this area (or you
do), consider classes to help improve interpersonal skills.
4. Active communication. Your clients want to be kept informed
not just about their portfolios and financial progress, but also about
important changes at your firm and with your staff. Don’t let your clients hear about personnel changes from competing advisors — this is
Good manners are not enough:
Affluent clients are looking for true
the type of negative surprise you want to avoid.
Very satisfied clients scored their advisors well in this area, with
77.9% believing their advisors provide information in a timely manner; 75.3% acknowledge their advisors’ efforts to give regular briefings. As can be expected, very dissatisfied clients scored their advisors
poorly, with just 19.4% feeling that they received timely information.
Given how important it is to affluent clients to be kept up to date, it
would be wise to incorporate tools into your client database that help
you flag any relevant situations and issues.
5. Listening skills. Affluent clients want advisors who pay attention. Listening skills are therefore another important element in client
satisfaction. Too often, advisors believe they must educate their clients, as opposed to listening to their needs, fears and wants. Your goal,
as always, should be to learn more about your affluent clients, and listening is the way that you will do that. A significantly greater number
of satisfied clients believed their advisors spent enough time listening.
That said, customize your approach based on
your client base — some of whom will prefer
short, task-oriented meetings and others who
may prefer drawn-out conversations where a
range of financial and non-financial matters are
6. Client focus. Affluent clients generally
care about having you focus on their needs.
You have to be able to convey the sense to each
client that you are striving to understand his or
her unique needs and provide individual solutions. Specifically, 75.7% of satisfied clients felt
their advisors made a significant effort to understand their unique needs, compared with
only 25.8% of dissatisfied clients.
Your approach to being client-centric will
depend largely on the types of clients you serve.
For example, if you work with family steward
types who care primarily about taking care of
their loved ones, you’ll want to make sure to
bring up key family members in your discussions (perhaps even getting them involved in
your client meetings, where appropriate), and
remember family occasions such as birthdays.
NOT ABOUT SKILLS
Interestingly, your competence is not a huge
factor in determining client satisfaction — because clients assume their advisors are competent. Even clients who are very dissatisfied with
their advisors are still likely to rate them high in
the area of competence. This doesn’t mean you
shouldn’t justify your clients’ view of your competence, of course. Most of the items you create through your credibility marketing efforts
— including articles, research papers and books
— will all serve to reinforce your affluent clients’
belief in your competence as a wealth manager.
In the end, we all know it’s much smarter to
keep your ideal clients satisfied and loyal than to
be forced to constantly attract new business. By
taking the right steps to ensure a highly satisfied
client base, you will position your practice for
stronger growth — and get more enjoyment from
the work. FP
John J. Bowen Jr., a Financial Planning columnist, is founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide of
San Martin, Calif., a global training, research
and consulting firm for advisors.