One year ago, America’s financial system teetered on the edge of ruin. Happily, we avoided the worst. However, in the year since the crisis erupted and securities prices collapsed, even the most successful advisory firms suffered decimated fees and are earning a lot less. Worse still, confidence in all things financial—including advisors—has been similarly debased. Are you planning your comeback yet?
With Labor Day behind you and the final quarter of 2009 closing in, it’s time to start planning your firm’s recovery. It’s a good time to think strategically about how you’re going to make 2010 a better year.
Part of your 2010 recovery plan is likely to focus on serving existing clients, and that what this post is about. It’s about making sure you know what your clients think about you and aligning your services and marketing with what clients want.
An excellent tool to systematize client feedback is Client Audit from Advisor Impact. Julie Littlechild, the CEO of Advisor Impact, took me on a tour of Client Audit and it’s great. I edited it down to a nine-minute video.
It costs $999 to survey all your clients. But it is discounted sharply by BDs and custodians. AI runs surveys over the Web or, for clients who don’t use the Internet, administers a hard-copy version for $2.50 per client.
The platform provides a “question bank,” so you can choose what you want to ask clients about in your survey. You can customize key components of a survey, such as the names of the services you ask clients about.
The survey results can drive changes in your service levels. For instance, you might learn that your clients value your advice on insurance when you thought they only cared about investing. Or maybe you’ll find out that the CPA you’ve been referring them to is giving people lousy service. Cross-selling opportunities are likely to be clarified.
Reports generated by Client Audit tell you which services your firm should emphasize. Moreover, you get granularity at the individual client level. So you can see if Mrs. Smith is interested in estate planning or income protection. You can learn about your share of each client’s wallet and find cross-selling opportunities.
It may require some courage to use Client Audit. You are inviting comment from your most important critics, and some of it could be harsh. But the feedback can be translated into an improved client experience and client loyalty as well as higher income.
If you have used Client Audit or a similar tool, please share your experience and leave a comment.