For financial advisors—as in most businesses—it’s easier to generate additional business with existing clients than to go out prospecting and cultivating new relationships. That holds true if your client is already satisfied with how you’re serving them and, as a result, agrees to entrust you with even more business. But the reverse also holds true: if your clients are not happy, you may lose them.
This raises an essential question: What are satisfied clients receiving from their advisors that the unhappy ones are not—and how can you solidify these relationships to endure over time and generate client referrals?
At ByAllAccounts, we recently conducted a national survey with nearly 200 affluent and high-net-worth investors to determine what was important to them in an investor-advisor relationship, why they’d consider firing an advisor, and what an advisor could do to build and maintain their loyalty.
The results revealed that advisors need to focus on three essential strategies in order to keep the idea of termination from ever crossing their clients’ minds.
Strategy No. 1: Add new capabilities to your service offering, because investors want more than just money management
Does your firm offer performance reporting on both managed and self-directed accounts, investment advice on retirement accounts, 24/7 monitoring of all assets and support for tax and legal issues? Do you have the internal capabilities to deliver such services? Or have you looked into forming strategic alliances with other professionals and service providers in the industry who could partner with you to provide these services?
As revealed in the survey, these services are important to many investors—and more often than not, if investors are not currently receiving the services, they wish that they were. That’s why it’s so important to diversify your service offering to meet an ever-expanding array of client needs. As a case in point, take a look at the results in the first chart, and you’ll see that advisors who have a 0% chance of termination are providing higher, more varied service levels than their counterparts across the board.
One advisory firm that comes to mind when discussing diversity of services—and an overall high level of client service and satisfaction—is SignatureFD, an Atlanta-based wealth management RIA with more than $1.2 billion in AUM. When I spoke to Liz Goodrow, the firm’s Senior Client Care Associate, about SignatureFD’s service offering, she stated quite simply that the firms has added services to “directly serve the needs of our clients and to help them live confidently, fully and purposefully. We believe these additional capabilities are critical for client satisfaction and the long-term retention and success of relationships.”
Of course, a comprehensive service offering is just the first of the three strategies that we’re citing here. As you’ll see, the next two strategies are equally important—both from a client service viewpoint and as standalone best practices.
Strategy No. 2: Let your communication strategy be a differentiator
Over and over again, investors indicate that they want frequent communication and one-to-one meetings. It’s the wise advisor who communicates with her clients at least once a quarter (if not more) and arranges for an annual “financial check-up.” Furthermore, according to Goodrow, it pays to take the extra step. “We send email blasts regarding varied research topics or in response to periods of increased market volatility,” she states. “We want our clients to know that we are aware of what concerns they may have, and help build confidence that we remain committed to helping them achieve their goals.”
Furthermore, communication is a two-way street. By reaching out, you give your clients the opportunity to talk to you—and ask you questions. If you don’t give clients this opportunity, you have no way of knowing if they’re unhappy and/or at risk of leaving. (If, in fact, they are displeased, a timely exchange of ideas gives you the chance to figure out what’s wrong and retain them as clients.)
Strategy No. 3: Do what’s necessary to provide holistic advice
We’ve observed that holistic advice is becoming the industry standard. A full 60% of survey respondents said their advisor was providing a comprehensive view of all their assets, including retirement accounts, annuities and trusts. This is a crucial differentiator, because investors who receive holistic advice report a higher level of service than those who don’t—with 98.3% of “holistic responders” saying their advisor understands their goals and provides a satisfactory level of service. Furthermore, as the second chart below shows, over 54% of those who receive a holistic view say there was a 0% chance they’d fire their advisor in the next year. Compare that to the other side of the equation: only 15.4% of advisors who don’t offer a holistic view are free from the risk of being fired.
Why such a difference? One reason is that if you monitor and provide a holistic view of all assets (and not just the ones you manage directly), you’re more likely to become the “financial quarterback” for your clients. This is especially important if you’re serving high-net-worth investors who have multiple advisors. With holistic wealth management, you can monitor what all of the other advisors are doing, ensure proper allocations are being made, and even compare their performance to your own—and excellent strategy for winning all the business.
Finally, please note in the third chart below that advisors who provide holistic advice are nearly three times as likely to receive a referral from clients because “they’ve earned it”—as compared to those who have not “earned” such a privilege.
How do you better equip your firm to offer holistic advice? One way is with account aggregation, which enables you to effectively manage (and even charge for) advice on your clients’ held-away accounts, such as 401k, 403b and similar plans, annuities, trusts and more. At the very least, with account aggregation, you can closely monitor these accounts, which is a great value added service in itself. As Goodrow states, “When we talk about providing holistic advice, account aggregation is a critical piece to making this possible. You cannot truly manage an entire portfolio without having access to all the pieces of financial information.”
For more information on this topic, see ByAllAccounts’ new whitepaper: Differentiate Your Business and Build Long-Lasting Relationships: Three Essential Strategies to Increase Client Satisfaction, Retention & Loyalty.