Top-performing financial advisors know that their new client onboarding process sets the tone for a long-term partnership. Indeed, the initial impression that the advisor makes with new clients is critical; and the long-term effects of the new client onboarding process -- or lack thereof -- can be immediate, as well as pervasive and long lasting.
That’s why it’s important to constantly reassess your onboarding process based on the input of clients who have gone through it via New Client Onboarding Surveys. In fact, our proprietary research reveals that one of the most important facets of the onboarding process is regularly conducting New Client Onboarding Surveys.
Surveys are important for five reasons:
- Increased client retention: A well-designed client survey allows you to obtain client feedback, which you can use to improve client retention. What many top-performing advisors have discovered is that the first 3-6 months after an account is opened are a critical transition period for new relationships. The impressions that are formed by the client early on regarding their new advisor, i.e. you, can be long lasting, good or bad. Strong first impressions during this stage can be a key factor that contributes to long-term client retention.
- Instant performance feedback: New clients are among the best judges of your product or services. By carefully listening to feedback, you can decide which products and services are the most popular, which need tweaking and which can be eliminated.
- Innovative ideas: Clients can be the best source to derive new innovative ideas. It’s more often the clients who suggest new ideas in order to improve a service or launch a new one. Here’s an example. A very successful advisor had worked very hard to create an efficient and complete new client onboarding process. The process that she had developed was uber-organized, a mirror reflection of the skills of the FA herself. However, when the FA began to survey some of her newer clients, she received comments that indicated they wanted less paperwork and more rapport building in the initial meetings. As a consequence, the FA implemented three changes. She began to conduct the initial client meeting in the office conference room, as opposed to her office. She found that she was less distracted and more focused exclusively on the client(s) in the “neutrality” of the conference room. She off-loaded some of the form-filling to her administrative assistant, who completed these during a separate meeting. She completely revamped her discovery questions to emphasize those questions that got to the core concerns and aspirations of the client(s).
- Identify areas of concern: There are few things more corrosive to fostering a new relationship than a client who is becoming dissatisfied with an issue, big or small. Client surveys can identify problematic issues early on, and allow you and your staff to take care of whatever the issue is, ending client dissatisfaction before it builds.
- Source of referrals: Many financial advisors have described the initial stages of a relationship with a new client as a “courtship.” Financial advisors who provide superior service during this time period find that clients take notice, and are more likely to provide a referral when this new relationship is “top-of-mind” for them.
When incorporating a client survey with new clients, the best time to ask is within the first month. Some financial advisors create a written survey. Others ask these questions in person, when they are reviewing the client’s first statement. Others assign a team member to ask the questions over the phone.
Some sample new client onboarding questions include:
- On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the very best, how would you describe your experience transitioning to our firm?
- If you were to describe the services that our firm offers, what would you say?
- Among our team members during the onboarding process, who stands out to you? Why?
- What would you recommend changing or improving about the new client onboarding process?
- Are they any outstanding issues that you are waiting on for resolution? If so, what are they? *
The final point is that new client onboarding surveys are a real differentiator because relatively few financial advisors are using surveys effectively. In effect, they provide the double-bonus of gaining new insights about your new clients, as well as setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack.
For additional ideas on how you might engage new clients, please download the complimentary ClientWise Learning Tool below: