Too many firms today have their value propositions wrapped up in vague assertions of “culture” without defining that term or explaining how they will put it into practice to benefit advisors and their staffs.
Talking about culture and making a commitment to cultivating relationships and delivering an unparalleled service experience are two completely different things.
Advisors need customized, personal attention that will allow them to best serve clients and grow their businesses. This comes down to firms putting words into action.
Here’s what creating a top service culture looks like:
1) Long-serving advisor-facing home office staff. All the resources in the world are meaningless if advisors don’t have access to someone who is familiar with their needs and goals, and then can use that knowledge to match them with complementary offerings and services. Firms, for instance, should ensure that every advisor has a dedicated point person to help them navigate a wide variety of practice management issues.
Meanwhile, they also should strive to have relationship managers who, on average, have at least five years of experience. If these dynamics are present, it’s a good sign, suggesting that a firm can deliver a consistent and personalized level of service that makes it easier for advisors to run their businesses and to serve clients effectively.
2) Reasonable ratio of support personnel to advisors. Relationship managers who can play the role of an experienced generalist are no doubt helpful. At the same time, advisors potentially face a range of challenges, and overcoming them frequently demands more specialized support, encompassing everything from succession planning to product due diligence.
Support teams, therefore, need to have enough capacity to take a measured, holistic view of the needs of advisors. It’s not enough for them to be merely aware of the advisor and their team. They should have intuitive knowledge of each practice, including the business model, custodial relationships, and whether they are part of an ensemble, an OSJ or operate as a solo practitioner, as well as having insight into the typical product mix and client makeup.