The subtitle of my book You’ve Been Framed is “How to reframe your wealth management business and renew client relationships.” Before you can effectively undertake that process, however, you need to have a clear understanding of how your existing clients and professional advocates are currently framing both you and your practice. How do they perceive you personally? How would they describe your capabilities and service model? What’s their overall impression and assessment of your team and your firm?
In order to facilitate this process, we’ve developed a specific set of questions, The ClientWise Conversation™, road tested by more than 50,000 advisors over the years, to help you collect data, discern recognizable patterns and form a clearer picture of how you are being viewed by the marketplace. Chances are you’ll discover a number of quite unexpected discrepancies between perception and reality.
You may be perceived solely as a portfolio manager, estate planner or insurance provider; not fully appreciated for the breadth of your holistic wealth services offering. Perhaps they see your firm as a bit stuffy and “long in the tooth,” not aware that you’ve been onboarding a growing number of younger, millennial advisors. Or maybe they don’t even realize you’ve evolved from a sole practitioner into the leader of an interdependent team.
Identifying common misperceptions is the first critical step to dispelling them and reframing your business. It all starts with a simple conversation. I encourage you to sit down one-on-one over the coming months with a strong representative sampling (ideally around 20-25) of your best clients along with a similar sampling of professional advocates, and to use these exact questions in the exact order presented, as they’ve been carefully designed to elicit the precise information and feedback you’ll need to successfully reframe your practice.
1. What is the one thing you value most about how my firm and I serve you?
2. What is the one thing you would most like me to change or improve about my firm and how I serve you?
3. If you were to describe the services that my firm and I offer you, to clients like yourself, what would you say?
4. If you were to describe what we’ve achieved together for as long as we’ve worked together, what would you say?
5. Among your other professional advisors in your life, who do you trust the most and why?
For many advisors, the thought of soliciting client feedback can be a bit daunting – driven by a worry that perhaps you’ll be opening a Pandora’s Box. But it’s an invaluable exercise, and a unique opportunity to be in conversation with your clients in a new and different way – away from portfolio performance and financial planning. And most importantly, you’ll develop a rich treasure trove of information you can analyze to identify patterns in how clients view you, what they appreciate about your firm, and what they’d like to see change – in essence, the roadmap for how you can best reframe your practice.
Coaching Questions from this article:
Think about the clients and professional advocates you serve. Who are the 20-25 in each group that you think would be most beneficial to speak with?
Prior to holding any conversations, document the qualities and values you want clients to associate with you, your team and your firm. How do you want clients to perceive you personally? How do you hope they’ll describe your capabilities and service model? What’s the one key overall impression you want them to have?
Assume that at some point during the many conversations you have you’ll receive pieces of negative feedback. How will you respond in a positive and constructive rather than defensive manner? Consider role-playing in advance with a team member.