Austin—“I’m not certain how to handle this Occupy Wall Street movement,” admitted Michael, a veteran wirehouse advisor. “Now it’s Occupy Austin, and I know there are children of some of my affluent clients out there protesting.”
Michael was obviously feeling the heat since he is working for a major Wall Street firm. So are thousands of other financial advisors. C’est la vie. What’s happening around the world is no more directed at Michael because he chooses to clear his business through a Wall Street firm than it is directed at an advisor who chooses to clear through independent channels.
With the foresight provided by our research on affluent investors, our response is simply, “What took so long?” What am I referring to? Well, let’s step back for a moment and review the concerns of affluent investors as the 2008 financial crisis began to dominate every aspect of society. First of all, when our researchers asked, “Who do you blame for this financial crisis?” the responses we got from affluent investors with more than $1 million or more investable assets, as you can see below, indicate that they weren’t holding their financial advisor responsible:
· Wall Street – 27%
· Government – 20%
That’s right, they weren’t blaming their financial advisor for this Category Five financial tsunami then, and they aren’t doing so today; however they are placing advisors under the microscope regarding communication, service, professionalism, and services. That said, as the graph below illustrates, financial advisors who are meeting and exceeding affluent expectations are currently deemed to be the “most trusted” of all professionals—while politicians, inflammatory radio and television talk show hosts, and the media rank lowest on the “trust” spectrum.
With all of this as background information to help put the current state of affairs in context, it is important for financial advisors of all distribution channels to fully grasp the fact that today’s affluent want their financial advisor to protect them from the vagaries of Wall Street and the government.
The Oechsli Institute’s 2011 research on financial advisors tells us that no one distribution channel seems to have the formula for developing elite advisors; they are evenly distributed across all channels. The data also highlights the fact that these elite advisors are outperforming their counterparts in all important metrics: affluent client acquisition, client loyalty, and meeting expectations on the 16 criteria identified as important in the relationship between financial advisors and their affluent clients. (Click here  for the PDF, “7 Components of a New World Advisor,” which contains the 16 criteria.)
As I shared all of this with Michael, he was visibly relieved, but he still had this look of uncertainty on his face. When I probed, his concern centered around getting every member of his team on message. To which I responded with a chuckle, “It’ll be much easier after you get on message.”
So, here are the steps for crafting a simple message:
Step 1: Become a political agnostic (from a professional perspective). This will keep you from falling into the trap of taking sides. Nothing is cut and dried regarding this lingering crisis, nor is it with these types of movements. Today’s affluent aren’t as concerned with your politics as they are with you being able to guide their family through this crisis.
Do not be defensive—this isn’t about you. And don’t trash the protestors—you might have affluent clients like Michael with family members protesting. And don’t put it all on the government—you might find yourself in a discussion you’d rather avoid.
Do be prepared to communicate with confidence your ability to capitalize on opportunities that arise—and they will.
Step 2: Make certain that you are an indispensible advisor to your clients. This requires providing comprehensive wealth management solutions with a Ritz-Carlton quality of service that is delivered with a FedEx level of efficiency.
The more you communicate with your clients and the more you socialize with them, the stronger their loyalty becomes.
Step3: Frame your Occupy Wall Street message for two different audiences: one for clients, the other for prospects and centers of influence (COIs). The idea is for every member of your team to be on message. Think in terms of crafting two simple themes along the lines of:
- Clients. “We work for you and are being extremely vigilant in monitoring your family’s portfolio and protecting your family’s assets from all of this craziness.”
- Affluent Prospects & COIs. “That’s why we’ve been working feverishly making the adjustments and protecting our clients from all of this, whether it’s Wall Street, the government, or our clients themselves.”
It is important to highlight another key point: Occupy Wall Street is turning into a viral marketing campaign for elite advisors. Facebook followers aligned to this topic stand at 1.2 million and growing. Not that your affluent clients are connected to these Facebook followers; it’s the media buzz they’re creating.
This reinforces two counterintuitive realities: 1) You are becoming more indispensable to your affluent clients. 2) You’ll acquire more new affluent clients as you will able to apply your rainmaking skills everywhere you go in the current environment.
For advisors wondering how to become indispensible, revisit the 16 important affluent criteria our research has identified and fine-tune the areas needing attention. Be forewarned: You cannot craft your message as I’ve proposed without delivering services of that nature.
So let’s craft your message so you too can capitalize on this Occupy Wall Street movement.
If you would like a FREE copy of our PDF, “7 Components of a New World Advisor and 16 Advisor Commandments,” please visit our download center by clicking here . Enjoy!
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Once again, we want to thank all of you who have e-mailed comments and questions to us. We will continue to do our best to answer each one.
If you would like to learn more, please visit http://www.oechsli.com .
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