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Are You a Michelin '3-Star' Financial Advisor?

Are You a Michelin '3-Star' Financial Advisor?

Every financial advisor should be striving to be exceptional in the eyes of their affluent clients and COIs.

San Francisco:  “Our team has been reading about how the Michelin Guide rates restaurants and we think the concept can be applied to our wealth management team,” explained Dominique, “and quite frankly, we anticipate some type of financial advisor rating system looming out there on the horizon.”   

Whether it’s a Michelin star system or some other rating vehicle that is easily accessible to the affluent consumer, Dominique was on point.  He handed one of the articles his team had been reading as I departed for “airplane entertainment.”

Dominique was part of an exclusive group that every financial advisor would want to join – the elite advisor club.  His team managed over $3 billion in assets and were, in his words “was always striving for excellence.”

As a result of this article, I found myself compelled to become more knowledgeable about Michelin’s 3-star ratings.  What I quickly discovered was that very few restaurants ever earn this esteemed rating.  And it was a rating that could make a restaurant or chef’s career.  That said, the criteria Michelin used was interesting by the very nature of its subjectivity.      

Michelin doesn’t actually help a restaurant or tell them what they should do, they only judge.  The only known criteria on which they judge a restaurant are:

  • Quality of the products
  • Mastery of flavor and cooking techniques
  • The “personality” of Chef in their cuisine
  • Value for money
  • Consistency between visits

How this works apparently, is that undercover (stealth) inspectors make multiple visits to an establishment to judge the consistency of all aforementioned.  If they score well across the board there is one final inspection by someone of a higher authority.   I know – sounds like a lot of pomp and circumstance, but success provides entry into an exclusive community:  there are only two 3-star rated restaurants in San Francisco and six in New York City!!

Come along with me as I share with you how I translated the criteria above for Dominique and his team.

  • Quality of the products / Quality of your investment performance    
  • Mastery of flavor and cooking techniques / Mastery of how you weave investments, insurance, banking, etc. into a comprehensive financial plan
  • The “personality” of the Chef in their cuisine / The “personality” of the Financial Advisor and support personnel (team)
  • Value for money / Value for money
  • Consistency between visits / Consistent client experience (business & social)

Think in terms of being one of a handful of the most sought after financial advisors in a large geographic area.  Wow!  Now that’s dreaming big.  But that’s reality amongst today's affluent.  They will travel to another city for an ailing family member to be treated by a highly respected physician with the necessary expertise.  They will also hire the services of a highly respected financial advisor to oversee the complexity of their family’s financial affairs who’s from out-of-town.     

You’re probably curious to Michelin’s short definition for their star ratings:

3-stars: Exceptional cuisine – worthy of a special journey (Exceptional advisor – worthy of an out-of-town relationship)

2-stars: Excellent cooking – worthy of a detour (Excellent advisor – worth driving across town)

1-star: Very good cooking in its category (Very good financial planner)

Every financial advisor should be striving to be exceptional in the eyes of their affluent clients and COIs.  Falling short and achieving excellence (Dominique’s team) is by no means a bad sign for a financial advisor, just as it’s not for a restaurant; New York City has only 10 restaurants with a 2-star rating.  Word-of-mouth influence will do the marketing for you.

It’s for this reason Dominique is focused on the 3-stars – which, in his words “guarantees continued excellence.”  Join him, it’ll require working hard and smart, but you’ll always be raising your game.


Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.

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