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How to Improve the Client Experience

In this competitive market, it takes more than just financial results to keep clients.

When I consult with advisors, the first and last priority I hear from them is finding new ways to grow their business. Of course, bringing on new clients is important, but it’s also critical not to lose sight of existing ones. Too often advisors take for granted their current clients and assume strong portfolio performance alone will keep them happy. However, we know that investors care about more than just financial results. In fact, recent research shows that clients would be nearly twice as likely to leave their advisor as a result of their calls going unanswered than due to long-term losses in their portfolio. To keep investors on board, advisors need to be constantly thinking about how to better the client experience, with a particular focus on improving their service offerings and communicating more effectively with clients. The advisors that concentrate on these areas will put themselves in a strong position to retain clients for the long-term.  

Continually Update Service Offerings 

A key way advisors can maintain loyalty is by continually updating their services to reflect changing investor expectations—and their own clients’ needs. We know investors are demanding more from financial advisors, and it’s important that advisors’ service models keep pace. In many cases, it’s no longer suitable to only offer portfolio management. Advisors should strive to increase their offerings, paying close attention to what their clients are looking for or are already seeking elsewhere. In cases where an advisor doesn’t have the resources to provide a particular service, he or she should consider bringing on a strategic third-party partner to help. While, as a general rule of thumb, increasing services is positive, advisors don’t need to throw in the whole kitchen sink. Think critically about what clients need more of and focus resources on those areas.

Still, creating a comprehensive service model is not enough. Advisors also need to be strategic about how they articulate their offerings. For one, they should tweak the services they highlight depending on the client. If they’re speaking to high-net-worth investors, for instance, it makes sense to emphasize their offerings related to tax management and estate planning. No matter who the client is, advisors need to frame service offerings in terms of how they will add unique value for the investor. In that way, advisors should think about their service model not as a marketing document—but as an expression of their commitment to the client. 

Strategic and Proactive Engagement Is Key

Meeting a client’s needs goes beyond effectively communicating and offering the services they desire. Advisors should customize all communications based on the preferences of individual clients. By tracking clients’ preferences, advisors can determine the best ways to relate to their investors. This could be as simple as identifying if a client prefers to hold formal meetings in your office, more relaxed meetings in a conference room or a casual meeting in a living room-type setting. Sounds relatively obvious, but advisors often fall short in this area. A firm should be prepared to meet any of these client preferences with the appropriate space and tone. 

There’s also something to be said for ongoing and proactive communications as a means of building loyalty with clients. An effective communication model requires planning for the future by creating pre-approved materials and scheduling regular client check-ins to make it easy to stay on track. This includes creating marketing presentations and newsletters, as well as scheduling regular follow-up meetings, client appreciation events, and quarterly reviews. Sticking to a robust and routine communication model will help to set client expectations and continuously meet them, while establishing predictability that creates a sense of stability for clients.

As the financial advisory industry becomes more competitive, advisors need to work harder to set themselves apart. The quality of the client experience is an essential way to effectively differentiate yourself. The advisors that work to improve their service offerings and their overall communications with investors will find more success in keeping clients on board.

Matt Matrisian is senior vice president of strategic initiatives at AssetMark, Inc.

 

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