Nov 02 2022
How to build a client-centric culture for your practice
By Audrey Heng
Financial advisors today are facing an increase in expectation for service excellence and being held to higher standards than ever before. This is heightened by the rise of fintech companies and robo-advisors – many of which aim to deliver more convenience and a wide range of services at a much lower cost. As a result, financial advisors must deliver more value to justify comparatively higher fees. To set yourself apart, a key differentiator will be the client experience. Nicholas Ho, a three-year MDRT member from Singapore, shares why it’s important to place your clients at the heart of what you do, as well as effective strategies to foster a positive client experience at every stage of the client journey.
Make a positive lasting impression
Ho emphasizes that client centricity will be vital to drive growth and sustainability in one’s practice. He shares, “To create excellent client satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, it is critical to understand your clients’ situation, perceptions and expectations. Serve wholeheartedly and try to understand what kind of value creation you can provide that is beneficial to your client by putting yourself in their shoes.” By doing so, this creates positive client service experiences which can be a powerful way to generate more referrals. For example, think back to the last time you had a positive experience with a salesperson or service staff. What is it about the experience that made it memorable, and how did it make you feel? Ho believes that most of the time, these experiences leave us feeling happier and is often associated with good memories. In addition, this will also make one more inclined to share about the experience with friends and family.
Build a client-centric culture
At the core of being client-centric is listening attentively to your client and having a deep understanding of what they want. Ho shares four main strategies he uses to build a client-oriented approach for his practice:
1. Create an exceptional client journey
Understand the process your clients go through and focus on providing a seamless client journey that considers their overall experience from beginning to end. One question to think about is, "How can I make this even more personal, simple or seamless so that clients have one less thing to worry about?"
2. Deep understanding of your client’s needs
Truly understand and empathize with your client’s needs. Take time to find out what do they value, what their situation is, as well as their perceptions and expectations; all these will help give a good overview on what matters most to them, and how you can better meet these needs to deliver an excellent client service experience.
3. Value creation for clients
Dive deeper into the challenges your clients face in achieving their financial goals and determine the best solutions to address these difficulties. Focus on value creation rather than the sale of products, such as offering personal customizable strategies that are tailored to meet each client’s individual needs.
4. Use feedback to grow and improve
Take an active approach to get feedback from clients regularly, such as what you’ve done well and what you could have done better. Review this information and identify ways to close any gaps and create a better overall experience. For example, the frequency of communications and timely updates of existing policies, check in with them to ensure that you are communicating well. Remember to constantly put yourself in your client’s shoes and question if the solution you’re offering is really in their best interest.
To illustrate how he puts these tips into action and the impact it has had on his practice, he recounts this story, “[I was referred to a prospect] who was looking for someone to assist her in reporting a fraud case. She had purchased several high-yield bonds without understanding the risks involved. The company soon went bankrupt, and the client lost her retirement funds. My first thought was, How can I help her better? Following that, we reached out to several professionals over the course of a year to assist us with this case. Even though the outcome did not change in the end, she was relieved that there was a closure, and the culprit was apprehended. As of today, she remains as one of my best Center of Influence (COIs) – referring her relatives and friends to me on a regular basis.”
All in all, Ho believes that as financial advisors, it is crucial to strive to create the best solution for client even if it does not benefit you. “At the end of the day, it’s really not about making another business transaction, it’s about building a strong and long-lasting relationship with your clients,” he concludes.