A few years back, a survey by AARP revealed that nearly half of the 40–59-year-old respondents would rather make an appointment with a dentist than a financial advisor. Ouch! Where’s the love?

Why does our industry strike more fear in individuals than the purveyors of novocain and root canals? Because a large number of consumers view meeting with a financial planner as an unpleasant experience.

There are plenty of reasons why people feel this way. Many have legitimate fears about their financial futures, ability to afford healthcare in retirement and capacity to provide for heirs after they pass. Financial fears aside, sitting down with a stranger to talk about finances ratchets up anxiety levels even higher, especially when that stranger isn’t tuned into what really matters to them.

And therein lies the problem.

Advisors consistently overestimate how well tuned in they actually are when it comes to what’s on their clients’ minds. In fact, research conducted by the Financial Planning Association® (FPA) and Allianz Life revealed that financial planners rated their effectiveness much higher than their clients did in four key areas of qualitative data.

When asked whether their planner makes an effort to learn about:

  • Clients’ cultural values … 68% planners / 41% clients agreed.
  • Clients’ personality type/traits … 73% planners / 38% clients agreed.
  • Clients’ money attitudes and beliefs … 80% planners / 53% clients agreed.
  • Clients’ family history and family values … 67% planners / 53% clients agreed.

Even worse, the financial services industry has been dealing with a big trust issue for some time now. According to one poll 65% of respondents mistrust the financial services industry to some degree. The same poll revealed that only 2% claim to trust financial professionals “a lot,” while 15% said they trust them “a little.” That’s a big hurdle to overcome if you run your business like everybody else.

Top advisors create exceptional client experiences that drive business growth.

In our decades of experience working with very successful financial professionals, we’ve found the really good ones focus on providing the best experiences possible for customers during their journeys from prospect to client to evangelist. Those really good ones also make it a priority to provide super personalized experiences for clients.

“He/she really gets me.” That’s the mindset of clients who love their financial advisors and sing their praises every chance they get (cue the referrals). You can’t deliver exceptional experiences if you don’t make a concerted effort to understand what’s really important to prospects and clients and what they need. But how do you get there?

Dig deep and ask the right questions.

Some of the best questions advisors ask are the really simple ones. For example, one of our top advisors likes to ask, “What brings you here today?” Too often, advisors focus on performance reporting instead of asking probing questions to find out what if anything has changed in the client’s life or financial circumstances.

Advisors need to do a better job of peeling back the layers of those qualitative data points identified in the FPA / Allianz survey (cultural values; personality type/traits; money attitudes and beliefs; family history and family values). And that doesn’t mean the initial conversation, an intake survey and call it a day. Attitudes and opinions evolve over time, especially as life circumstances change. These conversations need to happen on a regular basis, so you can help the client make adjustments as needed. If you don’t, someone else will.

Stand out in the crowd.

We’ve been harping on differentiation for eons now but if you missed our earlier musings don’t skip this section. Ask the clients you’ve built established, mutually-beneficial relationships with (and yourself): Why do you like doing business with me? The answer will probably land somewhere between the crossroads of:

  • You: “I’m really passionate about helping clients who have this unique set of traits solve these unique challenges and meet these types of goals.”
  • Them: “You really get me.”

Why do you love serving them? What makes you most excited to go to your office each day and drives your passion the most? The answers to these questions will help you get to the heart of what makes you different and why you are best suited to help clients meet their unique financial goals.

ALSO IMPORTANT: The way you present yourself and the messaging you share with the world should speak to those points of differentiation.

Focus on serving a niche instead of the masses.

Once you identify your point of differentiation it should be easy to home in on the best niche to serve. Now, a lot of financial professionals resist narrowing down their target audience because they want to fish in as big of a pond as possible. We strongly encourage you to resist resisting.

As we discussed in our recent blog, there are riches in the niches, focusing on a niche enables advisors to provide a more personalized and fulfilling experience for clients. That’s because the advisor can speak to the unique issues that niche faces, so their messages resonate. Again, those are the advisors with clients who say, “You really get me.”

Use fintech to personalize experiences and boost engagement.

While your clients may be similar in some ways (especially if you’re niche focused), every client has different needs and preferences when it comes to doing business with you. Personalizing client interactions based on what they want and when they want it, makes them feel appreciated and welcome, and fintech makes it a heck of a lot easier to do that.

In a recent episode of the BreakThrough Advisor Podcast, Brittany Hodak, an award-winning entrepreneur and author of Creating Superfans: How To Turn Your Customers Into Lifelong Advocates, explained how fintech can help give advisors a competitive edge.

As she explained, “When you can combine the high tech and the high touch, you create very high impact. Those personal experiences are going to be memorable and meaningful for your customers. It’s also the things you can do with technology. How often are you sending them portfolio updates and is that aligned with how often they want to hear from you? Are you making it easy? Old school snail mail vs. an app? Are you giving them the education and the support they need, so that they can engage with you and with their money at the intervals and in the ways in which they prefer?”

Fintech also helps advisors stay in touch with clients on a regular basis, and that frequency can be tailored to customer preferences as well. But, as we close, let’s keep this stat from a leader of practice management at RBC Wealth Management top of mind:

“Practices that connect with their best clients at least monthly have 56% higher gross revenue than those that do not.”

We’ve got the tools and resources you need to create exceptional client experiences.

At InsurMark, we pride ourselves on providing the industry-leading products, technology, training, tools and support ambitious financial professionals need to go from good to great.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact us for details. You can reach our office toll-free at (800) 752-0207 or connect with us online.

As an ADO – Advisor Development Organization™, InsurMark provides solutions to meet the ever-evolving needs of financial professionals with a mission to protect and enhance the financial security of every home in America.