ClientWise research indicates that the two most important factors in determining future client satisfaction are: service quality and satisfying client needs. Moreover, taking a needs-based approach allows financial advisors to better satisfy client needs, thus increasing client satisfaction, retention, and client acquisition.
Increasingly, top-performing wealth management practices are moving away from the static practice model, and towards a model that is more dynamic and fluid. By understanding the needs of their individual clients within this dynamic framework, advisors can determine the most effective practice and service approach. When financial advisors tailor their service approach prior to, or at the start of a relationship, and keep it dynamic and continuous, three good things happen:
- Client trust is stronger
- Client engagement is higher
- The long-term client bond is far richer.
Financial advisors who can answer the following six touchpoints affirmatively have taken a bold first step in proactively engaging and onboarding new clients:
1. We have developed a formal and customized checklist for onboarding new clients.
- Doctors use checklists. Airline pilots use checklists. Checklists provide a structure to ensure that all new clients will receive a consistently-delivered onboarding experience.
2. Each member of our team understands their role in onboarding new clients and what they are responsible for as it relates to our formal and customized checklist.
- We find that top-performing advisory teams are very clear in communicating to each other regarding the roles and responsibilities with respect to new client onboarding accountabilities.
3. New prospective clients always know what to expect as they integrate with our practice because we always review the process with them in advance.
- Reviewing the onboarding process with new clients directly seems like a simple and obvious step. It isn’t. Reviewing the onboarding process in advance with new clients is a great way to set expectations that can be met or exceeded .
4. We are clear in defining and articulating what it is that we do and what distinguishes us from others in financial services to prospective clients.
- Hah! Another simple and obvious step that is often overlooked. We have observed that many financial advisors are not good at defining and articulating what it is they do better. Why? They aren’t clear themselves!
5. We always interview new clients once they have been fully integrated into our practice about their experiences, what we might have done differently and whether they were fully satisfied with the process.
- Effective and well-thought-out client surveys are one of the best ways to engender client engagement and trust. There’s no better time to survey your clients than at the beginning of the relationship.
6. Our team anticipates well when a situation needs to be escalated and the client needs to be informed in advance of difficult news or something not working out as planned.
- Even the most brilliant new client onboarding processes can fall short on execution sometimes. When this happens, clients appreciate being informed in advance. By proactively addressing oversights and missteps early on, financial advisors can set the tone for an honest and authentic dialogue with their clients.
Mundane? Middling? Mediocre?...or truly extraordinary?
Take a moment to assess if you’re meeting the expectations that you have set for yourself regarding how you integrate new clients into your practice. If you are falling short, the above questions provide a perfect place to energize your onboarding process.