In our continuing efforts to provide timely insights into key issues for our clients, Abbey Research has designed a new feature for our weekly blogs. The Industry Insider blogs will specifically focus on industries with the potential for long-term client relationships. It is our goal that in focusing on these industries and asking some key questions about their methods of practice, we can provide further resources for our clients.
This first series of Industry Insider’s will present three blogs on the main factors that contribute to forming long-term client relationships in the industry of financial planning. We conducted brief research into what industry insiders consider the methods of best practice for forming lasting relationships with clients.
A 2014 Rules of Engagement study found that 79% of clients who felt engaged with advisors were likely to provide referrals to family and friends. Furthermore, the study stated that the three reasons for continuing a relationship were: the advisor’s focus on the long-term, willingness to help make difficult decisions, and a strong personal relationship. We found that these reasons could be rearticulated into these essential elements for a long-term relationship:
1. Know yourself – it is vital to be self-aware, know your personal and professional skills and what you can offer your client
2. Know your client – to build trust and be effective, you must invest in a personal relationship with your client
3. Think multigenerational – part of developing a long-term relationship is investing in your client’s future, which will usually include family members that could help you continue to grow and strengthen your relationship
In today’s blog, we will discuss the first concept: know yourself. Experts argue that before you can best serve your clients personal and financial needs, you should know your own strengths. In order to ‘sell’ yourself and your services to your client, you should possess strong interpersonal skills, professional training, and certifications.
Geoffrey Bellman, author of “The Consultant's Calling: Bringing Who You Are to What You Do,” asks the important question – why do our clients hire us? In his answer, we can see all the potential ways that knowing our own skills can lead to better customer service. Bellman states that “they hire us because of our: experience, friendship, support, eyes, vision, contacts, age, reputation, authenticity, wisdom, information, perspective, accomplishment, approval, objectivity, values, skills, insight, products, personality, compassion, expertise, guts and credibility.”
Being able to articulate these reasons to our clients is necessary for creating and sustaining a holistic relationship. Michael Bapis contends that these “relationships help build a strong sense of trust for future generations, and this trust is the fuel that activates meaning and value to client/adviser relationships, helps boost client confidence and enhances the overall client experience.”
Building your client relationships on a foundation of skill and trust will certainly help ensure a long-term and productive engagement. Having knowledge of and confidence in your skills and qualifications is the first step to building these sustainable relationships. Come back later this week for our second blog on long-term relationships with financial planners where we will discuss ideas on how best to ‘know your client’!