What is the % of revenue from your top clients? In our dealings with advice businesses across Australia and overseas, an ’80:15 rule’ (Pareto’s Principle adjusted!) is relatively consistent. Simply put, 80% (or thereabouts) of a practice’s revenue and profitability is being generated by around 15% of its clients.

The average Australian advisory practice today services 715 clients and of these, 105 are classified as ‘A’ class clientsrepresenting 15% of clients (stats from Business Health’s latest industry analysis, Future Ready VII).  ‘A’ class clients (however you choose to define them) are therefore likely to be 80% of your business, making them very, very important to the ongoing viability of the business. So how do you protect and/or grow this group?

Here is a hands-on, practice-level guide to taking care of the Top 15%…

1. Identify the attributes & characteristics of your ‘A’ class clients. This can be done in any number of ways, for example:- age, occupation, locality, market niche, type of relationship you have with them, etc. Irrespective of the criteria you choose, I strongly believe there is one attribute that must be factored into client categorisation – the level of their contribution to your business. In other words, their contribution to your revenue or profit.

Once you’ve got a clear understanding of what your ‘A’ clients look like, you’ll be well-placed to define & refine your service offer to these clients.

2. Define & refine your service offer. Every client needs your advice across a range of areas – protection, investment, superannuation, annuities and so on. But, as your ‘A’ clients are contributing (paying) more for your services, they most likely are expecting/needing/deserving something more. At the very least, more face-time with their adviser, more frequent communication and a faster/prioritised response time to enquiries? Perhaps access to new product releases, invitations to informative briefings or seminars? ‘A’ class clients must receive ‘A’ class services.

3. Remain relevant and valued by your clients. It’s taken me quite a while but I’ve finally come to the realisation that financial services isn’t the most attractive, fun-filled profession! For our clients we are akin perhaps to their regular medical or dental check-up.

Continual reinforcement of the value and services you provide is key. A communication program should provide the framework for you to achieve this. In a down market, proactive communication provides reassurance and comfort to clients and helps to reduce business risk. When markets are up, communication positively reinforces the value of services being delivered by you.

I’ve written about this previously and won’t revisit the subject in detail here. Suffice to say that by not communicating effectively with your ‘A’ clients, I believe that you are putting your long-term relationship with them at risk.

4. Seek ‘A’ client feedback. Less than one in three advisers seek feedback from their clients in any structured way (Future Ready VII). Key benefits in seeking feedback (structured, preferably 3rd party) include: 1. you will know what your ‘A’ clients are thinking and will be positioned to prevent issues before they happen, and 2. clients feel valued, whilst being reminded of the services you have and will continue to provide.

5. Ensure all staff know your ‘A’ clients. When an ‘A’ client calls or visits the office, they appreciate the business knowing who he or she is. Perhaps a welcome board, reserved parking space or coffee on arrival – all strong indicators to the client that the practice knows and appreciates them.

6. Mind the 5 year itch. Our CATScan findings indicate that many clients begin to question their adviser’s offer around five years into the relationship. Continue to reinforce your relationship by acknowledging milestone events with congratulatory phone calls or gifts (wedding anniversary, birth of child or grandchild or change in career for example). Or perhaps a ‘thank you’ call or gift (for entrusting their financial affairs to you) over time – perhaps the 5 year mark could be your trigger for this?

7. Utilize your CRM. Everything I’ve covered above should be captured and recorded in your CRM. Once recorded, there is no reason not to use it, to help ensure your very best clients are receiving and appreciating the services they’re paying you for.

8. Keeping ‘A’ clients close – scorecard.

For your consideration.

Terry Bell

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