The financial services industry has changed significantly over the past 13 years. As a financial advisor, you have had to adapt to the new environment in which there is more regulation, client behaviour has changed and there is greater competition from direct insurers. By understanding and applying compliance principles and processes, and incorporating these into your client value proposition, you can meet clients’ needs in a way that differentiates you from online services and products.
Client have adopted new ways of addressing their needs in the past decade. They conduct their own research, are more informed about industry developments and are more prepared for meetings and interactions with you. Even if their information is not gleaned from reputable sources, their expectations are based on what they have read.
It is therefore vital to keep abreast of industry changes and product developments. It is also important to ask yourself:
- How will changes in client purchasing behaviour affect my business?
- How can I contend with new purchase channels, such as direct insurance that can be purchased online or telephonically?
- How can my business better understand clients’ needs?
- How can I deliver a product, service and value proposition that meets my clients’ expectations?
- How can I ensure my business remains relevant to clients and the industry in the future?
Applying this thinking to your offering and service can benefit you and your business like it benefitted the advisor in this case study:
‘One weekend evening, a father collapsed of a heart attack and passed away. Two hours later the advisor received a phone call from the deceased client’s wife. She made this call because the advisor’s name and number appeared on a document titled: “To do list after I die”.
On the Monday, the advisor met with the widow with the claim form already completed, and he could comfort and support the widow in this sad time. The advisor had all the client’s detailed information on hand and could easily assist the widow with submitting claims forms to the relevant providers and the executors of the estate. In addition, the advisor went a step further to assist the family in accessing valuable information on the deceased’s computer through one of his IT contacts, and helped source a local builder to take over the client’s (who was a building contractor) remaining projects. The advisor had gone beyond the call of duty to support the widow in this tragic time.’
Your clients need to ‘feel’ the benefits of dealing with you and realise why shopping online does not have the same advantages. It may be easy to buy a product online, but is there support afterwards? It is important to ‘sell’ the after-sales support to clients.
Treating Customers Fairly Outcome 1 speaks about the Culture of Treating Customers Fairly. The above case study shows how the ‘human touch’ after the initial sale positively influenced the outcome and the widow’s experience. After the first meeting, she insisted on paying the advisor a fee for all the ‘work’ that was done and asked that he remain her financial advisor.
It also shows that knowing your client – because you have the relevant information on record – can make a difference to client support. Embracing the six steps of financial planning, conducting annual reviews, documenting the client’s wishes, current needs and circumstances, and identifying and highlighting risk areas to the client also limits the risk of non-payment in the case of a claim.
By understanding the benefits of creating a culture of treating your customers fairly by going the extra mile, you can deliver a value proposition that will meet – and sometimes exceed – all clients’ needs. This encourages clients to promote their experience with you as an advisor, and that can only have a positive financial impact on your business.