Trust Me

During the Q&A following a keynote speech I gave in Boston, one advisor asked, What does your research tell you about the level of trust the affluent have toward financial advisors? He then added a loaded follow-up question: And which firm truly gets it? It should come as no surprise to you that in the world of financial advice, trust is a critical issue. Even so, the affluent don't trust their financial

During the Q&A following a keynote speech I gave in Boston, one advisor asked, “What does your research tell you about the level of trust the affluent have toward financial advisors?” He then added a loaded follow-up question: “And which firm truly gets it?” It should come as no surprise to you that in the world of financial advice, trust is a critical issue. Even so, the affluent don't trust their financial advisors very much. The chart below offers a sobering glimpse.

But don't despair. Such high levels of mistrust represent both a barrier and a major opportunity for advisors. And that's because our research continues to emphasize that the wealthy are looking for a “go-to” financial coordinator. In other words, they are looking for someone to trust, and you must convince them that you are that someone.

When it comes to the key affluent motivators uncovered in our recent Understanding the Affluent research report, financial health is one of the big four. It stands to reason, then, that the affluent are looking for an unbiased professional — someone they trust — to guide them through the complexities of today's financial world. They want the financial services equivalent of a family doctor.

From the affluent vantage point, every financial institution and individual is making similar promises. Financial professionals from all walks of life are posing as “go-to” financial experts. As you can see in the Use-Distrust chart on this page, financial advisors and financial planners currently have an advantage over the rest of the field. But there is still significant dissatisfaction.

What's Your Role?

Consider the following question: If your top affluent clients, with whom you've had longstanding relationships were talking to a family member, friend or colleague and your name came up, how would they describe you?

If you began your professional relationship with these clients as a broker, unless you have carefully repositioned your services, then there is a good chance that you are still being called a broker. There is nothing wrong with being a stockbroker, but when it comes to understanding the affluent it is important to remember that they perceive a stockbroker as a sales person. And if there is one thing the affluent don't like it's sales people.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to develop a high level of professional trust with your affluent clientele. In order to keep this simple, start with your top 25 clients and think in terms of three questions:

  1. Does the client trust you, and how much?
  2. How do you think your clients describe you when talking to a family member, friend or peer?
  3. Are you the client's “go-to” financial coordinator?

You can't rely on your firm to answer these questions. It's all about you. You're the product. Which is why affluent lack of trust in (rival) financial advisors could be the opportunity of a lifetime for you.

Writer's BIO: Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com

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