A common criticism often levelled against those in our industry is that we don’t act with integrity nor the highest levels of professionalism; that we financial advisers don’t have our clients’ bests interests at heart and see personalised client service as a simple ‘tick box’ exercise to comply with regulation.
As a profession, we have made great strides in personalising financial planning and wealth management advice and, in turn, building client trust, writes Paul Evans, managing partner at United Advisers Group.
But I also believe we can do more to build client loyalty and, in the long run, improve the reputation of our profession.
It starts with demonstrating empathy, the basis of all strong relationships. The ability to relate to and understand another person’s emotions by listening and asking intelligent and probing questions is essential.
Nowhere is this more important than when it comes to the financial adviser–client relationship. Demonstrating empathy is important when speaking with clients about their financial wellbeing, retirement planning, wealth management or worse, financial distress.
The next step is personalisation. Clients share sensitive information about their personal lives. The more clients share, the more they can help enable a highly-personalised service from their financial adviser.
This sharing also provides a greater potential for trusted advisers to make smarter suggestions and decisions for clients, now and in the future. After all, how can you offer a personalised service if you don’t understand your clients’ aspirations, fears and concerns?
Clients want to move away from transactional relationships to something more engaging and personal because they have agreed to share their information in the expectation of receiving a service that works for them and makes them feel good.
The majority of clients want to build a long-term relationship built on discretion, trust and transparency.
Similar routes, different journeys
No two people are alike; therefore, no two situations are exactly the same. When it comes to our clients’ financial situations and life goals, we need to figure out where they are now and where they want to get to in the future.
To use a driving analogy: what’s the route we need to take to get them there safely? While there may be a similar route for different clients, the actual journey to arrive at the destination will differ greatly.
This is where personalisation is essential. Like a reliable and trustworthy travel partner, clients want to know that their financial adviser will be around for the duration of their journey, helping to navigate and potentially bypass financial roadblocks.
Personalising your service benefits clients first and foremost. However, it can also deliver long-term benefits to your business. It is no secret that we work to build value into our businesses and that that value is linked to – amongst other factors – the number of clients we have.
If our clients feel valued and as though they are being genuinely cared for, they will show loyalty by continuing to communicate, share and engage us as their financial planning partners. If not, they will switch off and go elsewhere.
By building long-term relationships with clients who continue to invest with us, we are increasing that value over time.
Building trust and loyalty in financial services must focus on being more client-centric, addressing pain points, understanding our clients’ motivations and desires and engaging with them, and their families, as individuals.
Therefore, in a post-Brexit and, more importantly, post-covid era, personalisation will be imperative for all financial advisers.
This article was written for International Adviser by Paul Evans, managing partner at United Advisers Group.