Shortly after becoming an independent advisor on April 1, 2007, I created a questionnaire to help determine which prospective clients would value my services and which would not. In this post, we will revisit this and discuss a process for creating a slightly different questionnaire; one based on the type of advisor clients are seeking. 

My original questionnaire was entitled, “What’s Important to You,” and was designed to assess a client’s interest in my services. It included the following three sections:

  1. Financial Planning
  2. Asset Management
  3. Customer Service

Each section contained a list of questions and the prospective client would rank their importance on a scale of one to five. As an example, in the financial planning section, I asked: How important is it for you to….

…. know your probability of running out of money?

…. track your net worth on a regular basis?

…. know the proper amount and type of life insurance you should purchase? 

After the client answered the questions, I totaled their score. For example, if the total possible points were 50 and they scored 45, I knew they would find value in what I offered. If, on the other hand, they scored 16, I realized they would be less likely to value my services. This is because each question was derived from specific issues I analyze or services I provide.

The first questionnaire matches my services with a prospective client’s needs. Now we will consider a questionnaire that assesses the type of advisor clients seek. This will help us tailor our approach to the specific client.

To create such a questionnaire, we need to agree on the characteristics valued most by clients. Here are four I have identified.
All clients seek an advisor who is:

1)      Trustworthy

2)      Competent

3)      Accessible

4)      Amiable

There may be others, but these are certainly at the top of the list. This questionnaire should include questions pertaining to each section.

In the first section, it would be too obvious to ask if a prospective client wants someone who is trustworthy. Of course they do!

Instead, consider asking if they find it easy to trust new acquaintances. You might also ask if they find it easy to trust advisors, politicians, corporate CEOs, insurance agents, etc. In addition, the first section might include a question asking if they have ever had a bad experience with an advisor. You should brainstorm on the questions, reserving judgement until you have listed several in each area (e.g., the same process is used in mind mapping).

This type of questionnaire could help advisors understand what clients value most and open the doors of communications on this ever-important subject.

Until next time, thanks for reading and have a great week!