The ONE Thing That Could Lose More Than 50% of Your Clients
For just about any practitioner to lose 56% of their clients in a year would be a disaster. It is enough to jeopardise a practice entirely of course, but even in a best case scenario it will hurt horribly, and for quite a long time.
It is a very real possibility too, especially if you are dealing at the top end of the market, because there is one area where they have a rapidly shifting expectation. The high net worth or affluent who are most discerning and who have the most options are ready to walk away if expectations are not met, and their expectations in digital engagement are very high.
The 56% I am referring to is the result of some research done by Capgemini and summarised in their World Wealth Report 2016. While the report is itself a wealth of useful information for practitioners there were 2 numbers which kept standing out: 56%, and 100%.
The first (56%) was the proportion of clients who say they will leave their wealth management adviser/firm if they become digitally dissatisfied.
The second is a more alarming number: 100% of those who say they will leave do actually leave.
For those practitioners who may be reading thus far and who are not in the wealth management space…hang in there, because I believe this applies to your clients just as much as any financial planners’. The thing we should remember about the High Net Worth clients who are far more likely to engage a holistic planner on a pure fee basis is that they are the “early adopters”. They are the leading edge that the rest of consumer-land seeks to emulate and follow. More often than not what we see the affluent clients do becomes the very behaviour that most other clients who are not quite so well off end up doing in time too.
So we should be worried, regardless of our advice discipline or current business model about ensuring that our clients do not become "digitally dissatisfied".
What is “digitally dissatisfied” though? It is the client-driven demand for technology to add speed and convenience to their professional relationships. It is more than a nice facebook page. It is state of the art (fast!) equipment and software that enables them to access information, you, your firm and anything else which is part of the service package. Fast, convenient, able to be accessed from multiple portable devices on their part….and secure.
Fail to deliver in any of these areas and those high end consumers today become “digitally dissatisfied”. And 56% of them said if that happened they would leave their advisory firm. 100% of those who said they would, have done so.
This can happen to any practitioner too in the next couple of years, even if wealth management services to the High Net Worth are not the target market. Think of this segment of the consumers who seek professional advice as a “leading indicator” of future consumer preferences. They will be followed by others who don’t have the same wealth, but who do have the same lifestyle, net worth and service expectations.
These people expect professional practices to be connected and savvy users of technology. That means things move at light speed, and our service or advice is constantly accessible via whatever equipment and whatever platform is leading edge.
Be warned: Digital Dissatisfaction on the part of your target market or existing clients could be disastrous.
Advisors Will Be Extinct in 5 Years Unless…
I’ve had financial advisors for more than 40 years. Not once in those years have I called my advisor to find out what stock/funds I should buy or sell. But I have called to find out where I should get my first mortgage, when to sell my house, or how much income I could get in retirement.
In short -- and I think I’m pretty typical – I was looking for financial advice, as it relates to my life.
Here’s the disconnect, what most advisors do is simply manage their clients’ assets. They determine what to buy, and what to sell, they think about risk management, about growing their practice by finding new clients and about getting paid.
Historically that has been the business model. But as more women take control over financial assets, they, like me, will be looking for a different experience. And unless the financial community is willing to change ….. advisors, as they are today will be extinct in five years.
Advisors who want to survive will have to do a lot more than just manage money – they will have to provide genuine “advice”. That means doing what’s right for the client, not pushing product and pretending it’s advice.
Women especially, but all investors generally, are becoming more and more cynical. They says, “If I want advice about reducing my debt, that’s what I want and not ‘here’s more debt’ because that’s what my advisor gets paid for! And if saving taxes is what I want then saving taxes should take precedent over selling me a product.”
You may be thinking that spending your time providing advice isn’t lucrative but the reality is that in the long run – it pays off in spades. The advisors who take the time to build real relationships with clients, who provide advice as it relates to their clients’ lives, even when there is no immediate financial benefit to themselves, those who don’t simply push product – are the ones who over time have the most successful practices.
Generally women understand and value service, but they will say, “If I’m paying, I want to know what I’m paying for: Is it for returns? Is it for advice? Is it for administration? I want to know. Then I can make up my mind what’s worth it and what isn’t.”
Investing is becoming a commoditized business and technology is replacing research that no one else can find. Today the average advisor is hard pressed to consistently beat the markets, and with women emerging as the client of the future, unless they start providing real advice, their jobs will likely be extinct in five years.
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