There’s a lot for advisors to learn by reading “The Book of Wow,” which is based on the Art of Wow program created by Knowledge Labs — the value-added platform of Janus Henderson developed in partnership with Joseph Michelli, a client experience expert and best-selling author.
The book is based on a survey of a wide variety of advisors, who share client experiences that go beyond their expectations — resulting in a “Wow.”
According to the book, Wow experiences are unanticipated, surpass professional advice and involve actions that resonate on a personal basis with clients; they’re also often unique to each client.
These experiences can be personal or tied to relationships between parties that go deeper and are more meaningful than what is normally experienced.
Words are cheap, and actions speak louder than words — as our industry spouts many cliché corporate platitudes. Few follow through with the necessary actions to bring about Wow experiences. Here are four Wow experiences that work on both the advisor and broker-dealer level.
1. Concentrate your attention.
While many advisors and broker-dealers think in terms of providing a service experience that’s adequate enough to keep clients, these advisors and BD go beyond adequate.
For an advisor, if you have hundreds of clients, high levels of attention to your clients becomes logistically impossible, because the Wow model requires 25-50 qualified investor clients or 50-100 accredited investor clients. (Or if you’re Taylor Swift’s father working with Merrill Lynch, just one client).
One advisor we consulted with had 35 clients, all of whom were very wealthy. She is involved in many aspects of their lives, such as attending birthdays and graduations.
Clients come to her when they want to buy a car or other high-end items, and also seek out her advice for referrals in real estate, legal and insurance to ensure they get the best. Clients have her cell number to call at any time.
This advisor’s clients have been so satisfied with her that they refer others like themselves (wealthy prospects) to her, which is exclusively where her growth came from.
She did not want more than 50 clients, since that would hurt her high level of service, lessen the experience for everyone and hinder her quality of life — as there’s more to life than work.
At 35 clients, she’s worked four days a week, traveled frequently and enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle. Not having hundreds of clients frees up her time to shower her clients with attention and still have plenty of personal time to do the things that matter to her in style.
On a broker-dealer level, there are BDs in the small and midsized range that follow a similar model: They have a very high service level, are focused on high-end advisors and give them focused attention and high-quality service experiences that make them very sticky.
One of these firms, which is at the 250-advisor level, has a growth cap of 500 for the same reason the advisors cap client growth: It would negatively impact the service culture they worked hard to cultivate.
BDs like these have average yearly production (or fees and commissions) per advisor of $400,000 or above. The advisors have “go to people” in the back office who they can easily reach out to for problem resolution; staff turnover at these firms is extremely low.
Advisors at these firms also have strong relationships with management, enjoy high-end lavish conference and reward trips, and are surrounded with like-minded advisors who are all highly successful. (You can learn more about high-attention BDs in an earlier piece I wrote, entitled “Is Your Broker Dealer a Screaming Eagle or a Box Wine?”
Larger firms have their own version of this high-attention model — namely through a structure that lets large producer groups operate within their broker-dealer.
We work with numerous producer groups that have 100-350 advisors. These groups bring the individual advisors a high level of attention and frequently have their own internal service staff.
For some reps, these groups offer additional services such as in-house financial planning and turnkey marketing programs to bring advisors a steady flow of new clients, as well as the scale to potentially bring the same or better payouts than if the reps were to directly join the broker-dealer.
Many of these groups celebrate the success of their advisors by having their own annual conference. They also support networking within the group, so advisors with different areas of expertise can aid others.
For standalone advisors who feel isolated, these groups can be a refuge where they can build relationships and feel significant. (I highlight the characteristics of these large groups in an article, “How Super OSJs Bring Innovation to Broker-Dealers.”)