Sunday, October 11, 2009

Julie Littlechild, Advisor Impact, Client Audit

Hello – my name is Julie Littlechild and I’m the President of Advisor Impact and the creator of the Client Audit, a client feedback tool for financial advisors.

The #1 thing that I believe advisors need to do is to clearly define and communicate their value to clients. And I think I’m backed up by the more than 70,000 clients we’ve surveyed over the last several years about what they need, want and expect.

The good news is that overall satisfaction has held strong in the last year. The bad news is that it doesn’t matter that much. What we’ve found is that there are two groups of clients. Both groups would define themselves as satisfied, overall, and both would describe themselves as dissatisfied with investment performance. That’s where the similarities stop. For the first group their dim view on the market is creating a negative halo – they said they have no confidence in their plan for the future and don’t feel their advisor has managed the relationship proactively. The second group, however, may be dissatisfied with investment performance but can see their plan forward and feels the advisor is managing the relationship. Advisors with more clients in the second group have done a better job of defining their value and creating a disconnect between market performance and the value of advice. In the process, those advisors have reduced risk.

So what can we do? I believe that advisors need to define and then communicate their value. They need to be able to clearly explain to clients what they do for them in words that are meaningful for clients. They need to document that value, from fundamentals such as contact levels to descriptions of the planning process. Consider creating a service agreement as a tactical approach to communicating your value. Research shows a clear connection between client engagement and knowing what kind of service they can expect. We also know that if your clients can’t clearly describe the value you provide, they’ll never be in a position to tell anyone else, and that will have an impact on referrals.

If you’d like to learn more about our Client Audit process, visit

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