What do clients want from a financial adviser?

By Helen Fisher on August 31, 2018

Just some of the traits clients are looking for in their financial advice professional.

We know that most clients who seek financial advice have a lot of questions. People want assurance that their hard-earned money is in the safe, capable hands of a financial adviser who has the experience and insight necessary to help protect and grow their wealth.

But what do financial advice leads and clients really want from their adviser? What are the issues that truly matter to those entrusting us with their investments? You may be surprised to learn that client needs often go well beyond basic quarterly investment reports and new product sales pitches.

Clients want a financial adviser to educate them

When entrusting you with their financial future, financial advice clients want to be sure that they understand what you plan to do with their money. While many professionals who offer financial planning help are keen to share their expertise with clients, some find it difficult to educate without slipping into industry jargon and complex explanations.

You likely know much more about finances than even your most savvy clients ever will, but don’t make the mistake of talking over prospects’ heads in an attempt to make yourself appear knowledgeable. This will only serve to intimidate novice investors and repel more experienced clients – people don’t want to put their money in the hands of a financial adviser who they feel can’t or won’t communicate with them on their level.

Explain things in simple, easy-to-understand terms and never assume what your clients do or do not already know. Welcome their questions and patiently repeat any information they find confusing or seem unsure about.

Clients want a financial adviser to connect with them

Most financial advice leads are looking for an adviser who will do more than just move their money around. Many want an expert adviser who understands their concerns, shares their goals, and knows about their life outside of business hours – someone who makes an effort to connect with them on a deeper level.

This is not to suggest that you must become each client’s best friend, but building the adviser-client relationship has real benefits for your business. Clients who feel valued and well-known to their financial advisers are more likely to consider new products or services from your firm and recommend you to others who are just beginning their financial planner search.

Get to know your clients on a more personal level by asking about their retirement goals, dream holidays, big-ticket wish list and interests. Include some basic family information in each client file, including the names of spouses, children and grandchildren. Send cards for birthdays, anniversaries, family milestones such as graduations, weddings or the birth of a new baby, and make time for regular calls or emails, just to check in.

Clients want a financial adviser who wants their business

Financial advice is not only for the wealthy. Many hard-working people with fewer assets or young people just starting out are looking for clear financial advice to help them plan for retirement, buy a home, eliminate debit, pay educational costs or save for the future. In fact, taking on smaller accounts can actually help increase your book of business significantly.

According to recent data, one of the top reasons why people don’t feel justified paying advice fees is that they don’t think they have sufficient funds to invest. In order to deliver value to your clients, you have to work to overcome the misconception that financial planning help is reserved for the rich.

Unless your firm has strict minimum account limits, make it known in your marketing and IFA lead generation strategy that prospects don’t have to have thousands saved up in order to meet with you. Talk about how you can help clients with small assets to achieve short-term savings goals, build wealth, or use the little they have effectively to make a positive impact on their financial future. Being transparent in your fee structure can also help – prospects starting out with less are more likely to want to protect their money, and knowing what they can expect regarding financial adviser cost goes a long way to building trust.

Clients want a financial adviser they can trust

This facet of building your business is actually twofold: working to expand your knowledge base and pitching solutions, not products. In order to gain clients’ trust, they have to believe that you know what you’re doing and that you have their best interests – not your commission – top of mind.

The best financial advisers work at it. To join their ranks and earn a reputation for sound, trustworthy advice, you must know your firm’s products and services, keep up with industry and market news and trends, commit to additional training, and learn as much and as often as you can. If you don’t have a credential, consider pursuing one to show prospects that you have the expertise and education necessary to recommend customised investment plans.

Building trust also means offering clients genuine solutions that will help them achieve their goals, and modern consumers know when they’re getting an empty pitch. If clients think that you’re only worried about hitting your sales targets and collecting your commission, then they will not be your clients for long. This is why it’s so important to connect with each client on a deeper level. Only then can you tailor an approach that best meets clients’ needs.

Clients want more from their financial adviser than quarterly reports and a phone call only when a new product rolls out. People want to put their money in the hands of an expert with the training and knowledge needed to help them reach their goals. They want a trustworthy partner who values their business, no matter how small, and genuinely wants to see them succeed. To give your clients what they’re really looking for from a financial adviser, you must look beyond the numbers and see the person sitting across your desk.

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