It’s Simple, But it’s Not Easy…

We know what needs to be done, it’s doing it day after day that makes it challenging and difficult. 

My financial advisor’s business is continuing to grow at a good clip. This isn’t a recent phenomenon – it’s been growing steadily for the last 10 years. Even during the Great Recession, her business grew. What’s her secret?

Most of her clients have been regulars for some years and she meets with them on a regular basis – might be quarterly, semi-annually or once per annum. She’s outgoing, polite and connects with her clients and people in general.  My advisor invites clients and prospects to seminars on various financial topics throughout the year and each seminar is customized to a particular group within her practice. To help make her meetings less formal, she neatly lays out Swiss chocolate and small trinkets as a tasty treat to start the appointment.  Another “thank you” comes in a form of a Christmas Party during the last month of the year.

Financial Planners

So what makes her successful? How does she regularly grow her practice? Moreover, how did she increase her number of clients and improve her positive brand during the worst economic period since the Great Depression?

Could we point to just one thing? Is it the free chocolate? Is it how her office is decorated? Is it because she’s focused on financial matters, having been in finance related business for over 25 years? Is it her being friendly and easy to talk to? Or something else?

Being a client for many years, I’ve gotten to know some of her clients over the last decade and they often say, “She really cares about us and has our best interests in mind.” What does that mean?

When the stock market is quite volatile, which has been quite common over the last 4 years, my advisor calls her clients and lets them know she’s paying attention to the uncertainly of the market and political environment – she claims email is too easy and doesn’t resonate as well with her clients. She’s thinking about the next steps with their investments, carefully making decisions, based on careful planning and analysis. When the federal government is considering a tax increase affecting certain income levels, she’ll reach out to those who may be directly impacted with several strategies to mitigate the impact as much as possible. In addition, she’ll also solicit feedback about some seminar topics her clients may benefit from – including the Roth IRA or proposed federal tax increases.

It is understood that she’s certainly quite competent with financial matters but it’s so much more than that. It’s also about connecting with people and figuring out how she can best serve them. What do they like? What’s their risk tolerance? What are their financial goals?

Once my advisor gets to know their financial goals, which typically includes when they want to retire, she implements a plan to help them meet these goals. It’s as though she’s treating their portfolio like her own – and I’ve heard from many clients on how much her customer focus resonates with them. It’s an ongoing relationship, always working on their behalf. When she watches CNBC for an afternoon, she’s not goofing off and eating bon bons. She’s trying to understand the current economic climate – where we’re at and where we’re going – so she can be an asset to her clients and help meet some of their most important goals.

I’ve asked my advisor about her service strategy and she thinks this customer service approach is simple, but not easy. This means, being customer centric is about listening, being competent, working with your clients, calling them when there’s volatility in the market, and sometimes providing financial related seminars. Having said that, she states most financial advisors are aware of this strategy, in other words – it’s quite simple but how many advisors consistently deliver this strategy day in, day out to their clients? That’s the hard part, executing this strategy.

Is she right, is her service strategy simple but not easy?