June 18, 2022

The Problem With Client Satisfaction

There is no shortage of “clever” names for financial planning services – Financial Plan, Financial Planning, Wealth Management, Strategic Wealth Planning, etc.

And there is no shortage of variations and interpretations of this thing that we consider “financial planning.”

A mentor often told me – “If you’ve seen one financial plan… you’ve seen one financial plan.”

Again, clever. But the thing is, it’s true. Each plan is uniquely shaped by client needs, advisor expertise, planning approach, team structure, firm economics, and compensation incentives. These factors directly influence the client experience and, more importantly, the understanding and perception of that experience.

I’ve often wondered how this inconsistency translates to consumer satisfaction. To my surprise, the average client retention rate is 95% (97-98% for strong firms). Seemingly high given the variance in experiences.

What is the key to this level of client satisfaction? At face value, retention rates are high, and high retention means happy clients. To be fair, many advisors are competent and deserve their contribution to this metric. But my experience tells me there is more to it.

I will remind you of the idea that “the key to happiness is low expectations.” This lens offers an alternative explanation: client expectations are too low or unclear.

Considering the inconsistent products, processes, and messaging amongst advisors, I believe there is truth to this. And who could blame them?

But if clients are happy, what is the issue?

The issue is there is a difference between happy clients and happy clients who refer.

Consider this:

  • If clients don’t know what to expect, can they understand what makes your experience different?
  • If clients don’t know how you’re different, do they understand your unique value?
  • If clients don’t know your unique value, can they articulate and share that with their network?
  • If your clients are not sharing their experiences, is your firm growing at its full potential?

My experience has taught me the answer is no. Your clients may be happy, but that doesn’t mean they are helping you grow.

What can Advisors do about this?

Many advisors will find complacency with high retention rates and carry on without rocking the boat.

Some advisors will recognize this potential and innovate so that clients can understand and articulate their value. They will build their service around intention and education so clients understand their value.

Advice Launch is built for those advisors.

We’ve developed a proven system to uncover your financial planning approach, harness your expertise, identify your client needs, and build a memorable experience around those attributes.

If you wonder how your approach stacks up or want to discuss how we can help, we would love to chat with you.

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