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What Does It Really Take to Be an Exceptional Advisor?

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Be an Exceptional Advisor

Last week, I presented some interesting research at the Investments & Wealth Institute conference around the concept of the Exceptional Advisor. And while the news is good, the data supported the idea that having satisfied and loyal clients won’t set you apart.

You can download the full report from the Investments & Wealth Institute here.

The research also showed, however, that there’s a clear opportunity for advisors to hold themselves to a higher standard in order to do the best possible work for their clients and to stand out in a competitive marketplace. Drawing on those findings, the Investments & Wealth Institute created The Exceptional Advisor™ Model.  The model provides a way for advisors to assess how they are doing now and a path forward for those who want to achieve more.

Exceptional advisor

The Exceptional Advisor™ Model has two key components: the foundation and the drivers.

  1. The Foundation: The foundation of the Exceptional Advisor™ Model is built on expertise and ethics, the two most important things to clients beyond the over-arching attribute of trust.

More specifically, 80 percent of clients said various aspects of adhering to an ethical standard was highly important and 77 percent said working with an advisor who is knowledgeable was highly important.

  1. The Drivers. In addition to focusing on what clients say is most important, the Exceptional Advisor™ model goes further to identify the relationship factors that are most strongly correlated with client engagement.

For the purposes of the analysis, ‘client engagement’ was identified as a key goal of the advisory relationship in partnership with our firm. Our firm, as you probably know, measures client engagement using a proprietary algorithm that reflects both satisfaction and referral activity.  The Investments & Wealth Institute research took this definition of client engagement and identified which aspects of the advisory relationship are key drivers.

Related: How Conversation Triggers an Increase in Referrals

In order of relative importance (from lowest to highest) the drivers of client engagement are:

  • Taking a Personalized Approach. A personalized approach is about demonstrating that an advisor understands the unique needs of his or her clients and crafting a plan that reflects those needs in a way that creates confidence and clarity about the future.
  • Demonstrating Advanced Capabilities. Advanced capabilities is about demonstrating advanced knowledge and technical expertise and providing the range of service that high net worth clients want and need.
  • Delivering Exceptional Service. Exceptional service is about such things as responsiveness, contact level and proactivity, but also about actively engaging clients and their families through the review process.
  • Providing Meaningful Guidance. Meaningful guidance is about providing the support clients need to make the best possible decisions about their future.

So the big question is this.  What can you do about it?  What are the specific actions you can take to ensure you are not ‘being’ exceptional but that your clients understand that you are different.  In the next posts, I’ll examine specific strategies to help you take action.

We’ll look at:

– how you can communicate expertise

– how you can move beyond the ‘rhetoric’ of great service and ensure you are ‘walking the walk’

– how you can measure success

My new program, Client Insights, which I talked about in my blog post last week, helps advisors do just that: translate client feedback into tangible, customized and actionable steps to drive client satisfaction to engagement: an ongoing conversation that will allow you to drive referrals, and uncover new growth opportunities. We can even customize a version of your survey to mirror the drivers of the Exceptional Advisor Model.

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