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Cllient Credibility

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When it comes to the sought-after high-net-worth market, there is a great deal of research showing what kind of financial advice is preferred. Our cover story (“The Independent Advantage”) provides all the details: Millionaire clients want independent advisors, objective advice, comprehensive wealth management, etc. While it helps to have the statistics, much of this research just confirms common sense. If a study is at odds with common sense, then you should probably question the validity of the study.

Especially when it comes to affluent investors, we all know that people don’t just turn responsibility for their multi-million-dollar account over to the first person they speak with because they want to get rid of a burden. The bigger the account, the more blood, sweat and tears that went into earning it, the more time and attention go into deciding on how to dispose of it. Our editor recently met an advisor who manages, literally, a billion-dollar-account connected to the Google fortune. The billionaire could not make up his mind between two different advisors each of whom made formal presentations. So he asked a third advisor strictly to help him decide between the two. They spent many hours on the phone. When the billionaire asked to compensate him for his time and expertise, the third advisor suggested the name of a charity to which he could make a donation.

Six months later, the billionaire called up and begged the third advisor to take the account. Clearly it was the third advisor’s independence, objectivity and comprehensive approach that convinced the billionaire he had found his man. It helped that the advisor asked the right questions and let his future client do the talking. That’s the point of Patty Abram’s sage commentary (“The Prospect of Discovery”) on winning the trust of affluent clients. And Mitch Anthony’s feature article (“From the Boiler Room to the Living Room”) treats the related theme that clients hunger to have a trusted counselor in their lives.

Whether it’s an advisor’s disinterested recommendations to a Google billionaire or the broken-down barriers of a living room conversation, it all boils down to credibility. So it gives me great pleasure to inform our readers that for an incredible (and credible) fourth consecutive year in a row, Research has won the highly prestigious “Excellence in Financial Journalism” award given by the New York State Society of CPAs. Our long winning streak coincides with a sustained period of growth for the magazine (we have been the fastest growing B-to-B financial publication for more than a year). We attribute this success to our credibility with our readers. Congratulations to Alexei Bayer (at right, with NYSSCPA’s executive director Lou Grumet) who won the award for us this year and last. An expanded version of his acceptance speech can be found in his column this month (“Test Your CPI-Q”).