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Ten Signs Your Client May Be Jumping Ship

It’s hard to bring in new clients—it’s even harder to lose them (emotionally at least). Our August 2016 research finds that elite teams lost an average of 1.4 clients last year compared to 3.8 for non-elite teams. There are some loyalty fundamentals that can keep attrition to a minimum (more on that in a later article), but today we’ll share some tips on how to identify clients with “one foot out the door.” Ideally, you can identify them, open the door to feedback and rebuild their loyalty.

The following are 10 warning signs to look for:

1. They question your performance or fees.
Even if the question is phrased nicely, you have someone questioning two core pieces of your offering. They may be looking into the performance and fees of other advisors as well.

2. They check out your LinkedIn profile.
Remember, if a client looks at your LinkedIn profile, they’re looking for a reason  It could be to refer you to a friend, or it could be a part of them examining all their options for financial advice.

3. They only take pieces of your advice.
Heretofore this client might have accepted your recommendations without fail, but now they have an extra question, or two, or three.

4. They are slower to return your calls/emails.
This is no different with clients than it is with prospects. When it becomes harder to get in touch with them, you know things could be going south.

5. They stop communicating with you, and only communicate with your support staff.
Your clients begin distancing themselves from you and only correspond with your assistant. This could mean that they’re slowly backing out of the door while still getting the basics on their account covered. This is a classic avoidance strategy, which is used right before jumping ship.

6. They assign you a new point of contact in their family.
Regardless of the reason for this change, the relationship could be in jeopardy, unless you’ve developed a strong relationship with this family member in advance.

7. They are going through a life or business transition.
Business sale, divorce, marriage—we look for these when trying to find new clients, so it only makes sense these could be reasons for losing a client as well.

8. They have a friend or family member who becomes an advisor.
This doesn’t always mean they’ll pull their account in full or quickly; most affluent clients want that friend or family member to get settled before investing with them, and even when they do, it might be a token portion of their assets.

9. They voice dissatisfaction about your statements, technology, etc.
In today’s age, technology can make or break a relationship. Make sure someone on your team is an expert on your apps and online access. 

10. They are checking their online account often (if you can see this).
Many of you are able to see when a client logs into their account. If you see the frequency pick up, it’s a great time to lob a call their way.

Each of these are signs from the client; but remember, your actions can increase the odds of attrition as well. If you raise their fee, decrease their contact or hand them off to another team member, it might be the right thing to do, but you’re raising the odds of a departure.  You can’t eliminate attrition, but working hard to prevent it is a wise move.

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought leaders with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols

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