Given how important it is to affluent clients to be kept up to date, it would be wise to incorporate tools into your client database that help you flag any relevant situations and issues.
5. Listening skills. Affluent clients want advisors who pay attention. Listening skills are therefore another important element in client satisfaction. Too often, advisors believe they must educate their clients, as opposed to listening to their needs, fears and wants. Your goal, as always, should be to learn more about your affluent clients, and listening is the way that you will do that. A significantly greater number of satisfied clients believed their advisors spent enough time listening. That said, customize your approach based on your client base - some of whom will prefer short, task-oriented meetings and others who may prefer drawn-out conversations where a range of financial and non-financial matters are discussed.
6. Client focus. Affluent clients generally care about having you focus on their needs. You have to be able to convey the sense to each client that you are striving to understand his or her unique needs and provide individual solutions. Specifically, 75.7% of satisfied clients felt their advisors made a significant effort to understand their unique needs, compared with only 25.8% of dissatisfied clients.
Your approach to being client-centric will depend largely on the types of clients you serve. For example, if you work with family steward types who care primarily about taking care of their loved ones, you'll want to make sure to bring up key family members in your discussions (perhaps even getting them involved in your client meetings, where appropriate), and remember family occasions such as birthdays.
NOT ABOUT SKILLS
Interestingly, your competence is not a huge factor in determining client satisfaction - because clients assume their advisors are competent. Even clients who are very dissatisfied with their advisors are still likely to rate them high in the area of competence. This doesn't mean you shouldn't justify your clients' view of your competence, of course. Most of the items you create through your credibility marketing efforts - including articles, research papers and books - will all serve to reinforce your affluent clients' belief in your competence as a wealth manager.
In the end, we all know it's much smarter to keep your ideal clients satisfied and loyal than to be forced to constantly attract new business. By taking the right steps to ensure a highly satisfied client base, you will position your practice for stronger growth - and get more enjoyment from the work.
John J. Bowen Jr., a Financial Planning columnist, is founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide of San Martin, Calif., a global training, research and consulting firm for advisors.