1. Poor Communication
This has been at the forefront of affluent client dissatisfaction for over a decade. We’d argue that communication issues are at the core of all the top reasons advisors get fired. Our research has identified the challenge: advisors and their affluent clients have a different definition of communication. The affluent want it to be personal, whereas many advisors have fallen into the habit of substituting mechanical contact (email research reports, newsletters, etc.) for personal interaction.
Example Question: When was the last time you and (spouse) have personally communicated with your advisor?
2. Multiple Problems
This area is a two-sided coin. On one side, solving a problem quickly and communicating clearly strengthens loyalty. On the flip side, multiple problems are a major reason advisors get fired. This question usually requires a little more build-up.
Example Question: All of the paperwork that firms throw at clients these days is just a CYA exercise. It creates problems for clients that we end up solving. Have you experienced any issues with all of this paper flow?
3. Hidden Fees
This is not about being the low cost provider; less than 3 percent of today’s affluent consider that important. However, complete fee transparency (full disclosure) is a major issue because it’s all about trust. Whenever a fee is uncovered that has not been disclosed, trust is damaged. Trust being essential in a healthy advisor-client relationship. This area is ripe for creating dissatisfaction.
Example Question: It never ceases to amaze me – it seems that without fail, when I’m reviewing statements – even from clients of the most prestigious firms – the hidden fees I find – of which they’re totally unaware. It’s obvious that this is a huge revenue source for them. Have you ever had your statements reviewed for hidden fees?
4. Financial Planning “Lite”
Today’s affluent tell us they want their advisor to help them develop a financial plan and guide them in its execution. Yet, the majority don’t think this is happening. However, the majority of advisors tell us that financial planning is a core part of their process. This perception gap is where financial planning lite was conceived. Advisors think their affluent clients have a plan, but their clients see things differently. Do they have some old plan collecting dust that was never fully implemented Regardless, dissatisfaction can easily be stimulated.
Example Question: With all that’s going on in Washington, we’ve been meeting with our clients and reviewing their financial plans – making certain they’re protected and on track with the goals we set. Has your advisor reviewed your financial plan recently?
If you live by the sword (sell performance), you usually die by the sword (performance). While performance is still important, it’s all about performance meeting expectations. This combines a number of issues; family goals, financial planning, establishing risk tolerance, tax implications, clear expectations of investment performance, every investment linked to the financial plan, communicating and reinforcing established investment expectations, liquidity and the list can go on depending upon the client. Because financial advice is so multi-dimensional, a simple question can often stimulate dissatisfaction.
Example Question – With all that’s going on in Washington, coupled with the unsettled nature of the global economy – how’s your portfolio been holding up?