Good client management: what people expect from their financial adviser

By Helen Fisher on September 13, 2018

Good client management is all about knowing your financial advice clients' expectations and working out how to deliver the answers they need.

When you have spent so much time and effort working financial advice leads and converting them, the actual hard work of maintaining your client base begins. This is when you should use your skills, knowledge and experience and produce the results that your customers want.

Understanding what people want from a financial adviser is key to your success. The trouble is, once you are an “insider” in any industry, it can be hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has little or no knowledge of how things really work in finance.

Empathy

Empathy is a quality that you might associate more as a skill needed by social workers rather than someone who is going to be offering financial advice. However, one of the main expectations that financial adviser leads will have is that they will find someone who will understand their own personal situation. Relating to someone else’s good fortune or their struggles can be difficult, especially if you have a large client database.

As with most things, that might seem like a problem. However, this offers an opportunity to market yourself better and work with clients who you can best help. For instance, if you are an older, established financial adviser, then you might be able to relate to people closer to your own age than you could to a millennial. It is human nature for someone to feel that you understand them when you’re both similar, so focusing on pension leads might be a good way to go.

Respect their assets, small or large

There is always a temptation to try to land the big fish, but if you only look to high-net-worth individuals for a new investing lead, then you will severely limit yourself. One of the reasons why many people don’t seek financial advice is because they worry that they don’t have enough money to invest, let alone pay the fees.

A survey by Harris Interactive found that only 4 per cent of people said that they believed that no specific amount of savings or investments is necessary to arrange a meeting with a financial adviser. Therefore, by making it plain as part of your honest and transparent approach that you treat any investment, no matter how large or small, as equally important, you will show that you have understood a vital element in good client management.

Solutions, not pitches

What people expect from their financial adviser is solutions to their problems and queries, not constant sales pitches. This is where understanding a client’s unique situation and looking at things from their viewpoint really comes into play. As someone who has searched out qualified leads for financial advisers and then managed to convert them into clients, you already know the importance of working on a case-by-case basis.

If you are an independent adviser who is not offering restricted advice, then you don’t have to “sell” products at all – the thing that you do need to pitch is the whole idea that financial planning as a concept is important and you are the best person who can help.

Education

A lot of financial advisers don’t quite get a handle on the idea of “educating” a client, but in most cases, this is exactly what they actually want to happen. No one likes to feel that they have limited control through a lack of knowledge, especially when it comes to managing their own money, so an essential part of your work is to give your clients the information they need in order to make their own informed decisions based on the advice you give them.

The key is to keep things simple but not to appear condescending. Avoid a preaching tone – if you act as if you are the keeper of arcane knowledge that the public isn’t aware of and now you’re graciously sharing it with a client, then you’ll only put them off.

Clients aren’t naïve, but the fact that they are asking you for advice means that they think you know more about finances than they do – so you don’t have to try to prove that with complex explanations or by using too many industry buzzwords and phrases. Learning how to put the situation and options in accessible terms is a big part of the art of being a successful financial adviser.

Communication

How often you keep in touch with clients is a major part of management and also something that is a big expectation on their behalf. You will most likely have been in contact quite a lot when they were just an investing lead for you, and now that they’re a client, you’ve got to keep it up on a regular basis.

Today, there are plenty of ways to be creative in an ongoing engagement – informative email newsletters, webinars, workshops and good social media management are just a few – so there’s really no excuse for a lack of communication.

Exactly how you keep in touch will depend on your own relationships with your clients and how much you have put the previous points into effect already. Summarising current events and market news is a great way to show that you are “on the ball” and that you are always thinking of ways to help your clients. It also offers them the chance to learn more and promotes a two-way street where they can get back in touch with you.

Exceed expectations

Once you have a good idea of what a client expects from you as a financial adviser, you not only have to live up to those ideals, but you also have to exceed them. By meeting their needs and then going the extra mile, you can achieve best results no matter the individual circumstances, and this is the most important element in good client management and how it relates to your own ultimate success.

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