Trust. We all hear that word in this industry, this whole idea of being a “trusted advisor,” and maybe it’s given lip service at times. But yet another consumer study has placed trust right at the top of what consumers are looking for in advisors. Oh, and the only item ranked above trust? Honesty.

The study in question? The MDRT Financial Harmony Study, which is based on online surveys of U.S. consumers and financial advisors and was conducted April 2011 by the Boomer Project and BIGresearch. Nearly 1,500 consumers, ranging in age from 21 to 75 took the survey, while another 300-plus financial professionals weighed in.

So, what is there to learn from the survey? For one thing, there’s a “significant gap between how financial advisors rate themselves and how clients rate their advisors.”

The survey asked both parties to rank the most important traits for advisors. Some of the key terms in the survey included the previously mentioned “honesty” and “trustworthiness” along with “delivers results” and “knowledge.”

The findings showed that while consumers gave advisors a 7.7 score (out of a possible 10) for honesty, advisors bestowed upon themselves a 9.2 score. Advisors also rated themselves higher than clients rate their advisors in terms of trustworthiness (8.3 vs. 7.6); knowledge (8.4 vs. 7.8); and delivering results (8.4 vs. 7.4).

According to MDRT officials, the study should be a wake-up call for advisors. MDRT president Julian H. Good, Jr., says, “The findings reinforce the need for financial professionals to pay more attention to the relationship side of the advisor-client equation, working to better earn clients’ trust by demonstrating professionalism, ethics and integrity in their approach and interactions.”

Good advice all around as this is a great opportunity for advisors to really connect with clients and prospects as you continue to build trust and provide coaching, particularly in light of the debt crisis and looming global economic uncertainty swirling.

Leave us a comment and let us hear how the advisor-client relationship is working for you and we’ll print your thoughts in print and on the website.