September 29, 2017

Walking or just talking

Australia

469

Client centric …really?

It seems that hardly a day goes by without the expression ‘client centric’ being referred to in the financial services press. And rightly so, as surely the client resides at the very heart of our advice industry.

For any service provider to remain “relevant” (and therefore valuable) to their clients, surely they must continue to, not only deliver a service that their clients truly appreciate and are happy to pay for, but they also need to continually reinforce that service. Perhaps this has never been more important than now, when it seems that not a week goes by without an article criticising the industry appearing in the press.

I’m therefore somewhat at a loss to explain some of our latest communication findings (Future Ready VII whitepaper, released earlier this year):

  • Just over one in three practices communicate with their best clients 10+ times per year (and in this context, contact can be written, electronic, telephone, group functions or face to face interviews). This result is well below our 2014 finding of 43%. Given the ‘less than ideal’ image of our industry within the public domain of late, surely we should be taking every opportunity (through relevant, timely and customised communications) to convey the many positives of the professional adviser and the value he/she is delivering to their clients every day?  Somewhat ironically, our Future Ready VII analysis also indicates that those practices who are contacting their clients on at least 10 occasions throughout the year (contact is usually a mix of newsletter, email, phone call or face to face meeting) are achieving a higher level of profitability (+31%), when compared to their less than communicative colleagues.
  • Disappointingly, only one in two practices indicate they have a current, documented client value proposition (CVP), a result which is down 6% over the 2014 results. Very hard to communicate without it! Can’t help but wonder about those seemingly endless rounds of CVP workshops over the years and ponder the return on the investment!
  • Only one in three practices actually seek feedback from their clients through a formal survey process. A result which continues to frustrate! Our frustration is further exacerbated by our experience which indicates that for those clients who are surveyed, they are very happy to respond and, most pleasingly, the majority are also most satisfied (pleased even) with their adviser.
  • 28% of advisers only meet face-to-face with their “A” clients once a year to review their current personal circumstances and their progress to plan. Meetings such as reviews, provide the perfect platform for the adviser to demonstrate not only their capability, but also reinforce the decision of the client to choose the adviser in the first place. Such meetings also allow the adviser to introduce clients to other members of the team and, with ‘principal dependency’ looking as a major industry risk over the upcoming years, this surely can’t be a bad thing!
  • Of the nine key service deliverable areas we survey through our CATScan client survey tool, “communication” and “reviews” are the lowest rated. In fact they’ve been in this position since we first launched CATScan over 15 years ago.

I’m not too sure how the above lines up with a client centric model?

With no noticeable improvement in the area of client communication over the last few years, it seems clear that advisers continue to run the risk of having their efforts largely unappreciated and, as a result, undervalued, by many of their clients – the result of which will surely be an inevitable loss of clients.

Of course, the above observations aren’t limited to advisers and their clients exclusively. We wonder if many licensees would fare much better?

For your consideration.

 

Stats and facts drawn from Future Ready VII – the seventh in our series of whitepapers providing an insight into the ‘health’ of Australia’s advisory profession and its preparedness for the future.

 

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