Written by: Joe Cilley, CFP®, Regional Director of Financial Planning
Recently I saw an online profile of an advisor claiming to be “the easiest advisor you’ll ever work with.” I’ve been thinking. What does it mean to be “the easiest” to work with, and can they really deliver?
It’s common for financial professionals these days to advertise how well they focus on their clients, and with good reason. After all, you’re probably more likely to consider working with any person in any capacity who says that they will make the experience “all about you.”
In our experience, more financial advisors and wealth managers today are paying greater attention to their clients’ needs and concerns than they did a few decades ago. The industry of advice has changed to be less transactional and more consultative. Although advisors have become better at understanding their clients on a deeper level, we think that advisors don’t always go far enough.
In contrast, elite wealth managers use a process for becoming intensely client-centric in order to deliver specific solutions for unique client needs. They get to know their clients extremely well so that they can offer a range of strategies that are both impressive technically and highly aligned with the results their clients want most.
With that in mind, now is a great time to assess your advisors’ level of client focus and determine whether you’re getting the experience you want and need.
The foundations of being client-centric
To be client-centric at an elite level, an advisor must have a process to develop a deep understanding of the person across the table—you—and then be able to provide solutions that specifically address your needs.
To get to that level, however, there first must be a foundation of characteristics on which to build. You should be looking to see whether an advisor possesses three qualities that tell you you’re on the right track.
- Advisors must sincerely and earnestly care about the well-being of their clients. To a client-centric advisor their clients’ welfare always comes first, and advisors care about them as people and what really matters in their lives.
- Advisors should be interested in you in a positive and supportive way. Naturally, they’re motivated to collect all the relevant facts about you. A client-centric advisor wants to know your statistics, but they also are curious about your story. We find that all of our clients have some vision of what they think their future will be like. Some imagine very specifically, and some imagine their future in more general terms.
- Client-centric advisors listen to understanding. They speak with intention to clearly communicate the strategies of the financial world in terms with which clients relate. with
One of the indications that an advisor is client-centric is evidence of the process that helps them see you as a total person. During your meetings together they will ask deeper questions relating to the following:
- Who are all the people in your life who are important to you, and how should your financial strategies influence them?
- What will your story be in the future personally, professionally, practically and audaciously?
- What do you love to do? What are your passions in life? If you designed a perfect week, what would be involved?
- Core financial values. How did you learn financial lessons in life? What does your money mean to you? What are experiences that have made you feel financially successful and perhaps some that have not?
- Other Advisors. Who influences your financial strategies directly and indirectly now, and how do you like to with work with them? Are they true partners in all aspects, sounding boards, or do they just help you carry out the strategies and plans that you design?
When financial professionals understand these things about you, not only is their advice more comprehensive in terms of the strategies they can offer you, but they can also better identify the specific solutions within those strategies that line up with what you want to accomplish most in your life. Ultimately, you can think of their process as deep discovery of your story, the people who are most important to you, and what you want most.
It’s fashionable to say that an advisor is client-centric, but what an advisor says must be supported by what an advisor does. Learn about the process that an advisor has in place to understand you and to know you in a full and comprehensive way. Their process can be a good sign that an advisor “walks the talk” when it comes to being client-centric.
For professional help from a truly client-centric advisor, be sure to contact Merit Financial Advisors today!
Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Merit Financial Group, LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. Merit Financial Group, LLC and Merit Financial Advisors are separate entities from LPL Financial.