I used to be a big advocate of advisory firms writing out their “processes and procedures” in detail, step by step. But with the advisory industry changing so rapidly these days, I find that firms are having to rewrite those processes and procedures every couple of months or so so—and it’s becoming a burden.
Instead, I’ve found it’s both more efficient and more effective to shift the focus away from specific steps to take with each client, and onto the overall experience that you want your clients to have.
Yes, it’s important that all clients be treated with respect, and kindness. And that their calls are answered quickly and their problems and/or concerns be addressed promptly and effectively.
Yet, over the years, I’ve come to realize that these actions are part of a bigger picture of your clients’ experience — building client trust.
In general, we build trust with people by showing that we are genuinely concerned about their happiness and well-being. And that’s certainly important in advisory relationships.
The first step in creating client trust is to talk about what “trust” is and why it’s important.
It’s also important to remember, that most clients have no understanding of how the financial services industry really works. Explaining those hidden pitfalls and what you do to help your clients avoid them can be a big trust builder.
These days, many advisors demonstrate this concern by committing to a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their clients—ahead of their own interests.
And it’s important that advisors communicate how that duty translates into their actions on behalf of the clients: by avoiding conflicts of interest when possible; disclosing and mitigating conflicts that are unavoidable, and working to keep investment costs and risks as low as possible, while still achieving the clients’ goals.
The second step toward building client trust is to talk about what their experience will be as clients. Thoroughly explain everything you do on their behalf (and that of other clients), and why you do what you do, and the way you do it.