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Planning, Engagement and Transparency Boost Client Satisfaction

Clients are more satisfied with advisors who lead with planning, interact more with them and clearly demonstrate their fee structure, according to a Carson Coaching study.

Although many clients may be preoccupied by the recent economic uncertainty and market volatility, there are opportunities for advisors to boost clients’ confidence during this time and justify their fees. A new study by Carson Coaching, advisor Ron Carson’s coaching firm, found that clients tend to be more satisfied with advisors who have a strong focus on financial planning, engage with clients more times per year and clearly demonstrate their fee structure.

With a notable uptick in individuals reaching out to financial advisors for the first time in their lives due to the coronavirus and market upheaval, there’s no better time for advisors to re-examine and adjust their value proposition and how they engage with clients,” said Jamie P. Hopkins, managing director of Carson Coaching and director of retirement research for Carson Group.

Estate planning, for one, was associated with high levels of satisfaction. The study, which consisted of an online survey of more than 1,000 investors with at least $100,000 in investable assets and a survey of 129 advisors, found that 61% of clients with an estate plan in place were highly confident about retirement, and 74% were highly satisfied with their advisors.

Transparency was also very important in the client/advisor relationship; 94% of those who know how their advisor is compensated said they were getting adequate value, compared with 82% of those who are unaware of their advisor’s compensation model. And it becomes even more important as you move upstream, with 62% of investors with more than $1 million indicating that knowing their advisor’s compensation structure was extremely important. That compares with about half of those with $100,000 to $299,000 saying this was important.

And while face-to-face meetings have had to move online with social distancing, having more interactions with advisors was related to higher satisfaction levels for clients. Nine in 10 clients who were satisfied with their advisors interact with them four or more times per year, the study found.

“Some of the data challenged what I viewed as industry best practices,” Hopkins said. “For example, value was strongly correlated with the number of interactions an advisor had with a client. Many of these interactions have had to shift to phone and videoconferencing due to social distancing efforts of late, but it just goes to show that human connection is key, especially in times of uncertainty or distress. The traditional once or twice a year reach out is simply not enough for most clients.

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