What makes an elite advisor tick?
The Oechsli Institute recently conducted its annual advisor survey to discover just that. The research shows what today’s affluent clients expect from a financial advisor and what advisors are doing to meet these expectations and strengthen affluent loyalty. We were also able to discover what marketing activities were proving successful in acquiring new affluent clients.
In our advisor study, there were three metrics used to distinguish elite advisors from everyone else:
• Meeting affluent expectations
• Affluent client acquisition (relationship marketing)
• Affluent client loyalty (relationship management)
Meeting Affluent Expectations
Elite advisors will know and understand their target market: affluent investors. What do the affluent expect from an advisor relationship?
• Being trustworthy and having the client’s best interest behind every decision
• Overseeing the client’s financial affairs, not marketing their practice
• Being a problem solver
• Possessing a comprehensive breadth and depth of knowledge
• Delivering high-level personal service
• Listening and truly understanding their family’s goals and needs
• Providing timely, not mechanical communication
• Protecting client’s investments from downside risk
• Making clients aware of fees on an annual basis
• Meeting investment performance expectations
• Creating a financial plan and keeping it current
• Using current technology for account access and reporting
• Coordinating and organizing their financial documents
• Providing insurance solutions
Sit down with your team, and ask each individual to rate your team’s performance using these criteria, on a simple 1 to 5 scale, with 5 rating extremely well. From that starting point, select one keystone criteria in both the communication and financial areas that your team will commit to improving. By keystone, I’m referring to that one criteria that when improved will have a positive impact on other criteria.
Elite advisors excel in bringing in new affluent clients and assets. On average, our 2013 elite advisors brought in $34.4 million of new assets and a total of 13.5 new clients in the previous year.
Here are the top ways affluent investors discovered their primary advisor:
• Introduction from a trusted professional
• Introduction from a colleague
• Introduction from a family member
• I approached this person myself
Word-of-mouth influence is the primary impact factor in today’s affluent advisor selection, and elite advisors use these tactics exclusively. The message is simple; adjust your marketing tactics to how today’s affluent select an advisor, which should mirror the relationship marketing activities of our elite advisors. Those activities include introductions, referral alliances, strategic networking, indirect and direct referrals, social intimate client events, and educational events. If elite advisors are able to bring in nearly $35 million in new assets using these methods, every advisor interested in growth should work toward mastering them.
Elite advisors do not lose affluent clients—they have mastered the art of relationship management. They communicate more frequently and on a personal level. They spend personal time with their affluent clients, often in non-business venues.
The true elite advisor litmus test lies in their ability to simultaneously master relationship marketing, while strengthening the relationships of their current affluent clients.
New clients and new assets are the most significant forward indicator of an advisor’s practice. They are also strong indicators of elite status. Every advisor should work to increase the acquisition of new affluent clients.