What do clients wantfrom advisors?

5 mins readLast updated October 9, 2023by Kate Morgan

In an increasingly competitive industry for advisors, with more average Americans seeking financial guidance each year, going above and beyond for your clients is the way to stand out. But what do clients actually want from their financial advisors? This article outlines the nine most essential traits, abilities and offerings in the eyes of the customer.

Viewing your financial advice through the client’s eyes

Every business owner should be taking the time, now and then, to ask, “Am I delivering what my clients need me to deliver?” The best way of getting a clear answer to this question is simple — you can ask your clients.

You’re there to offer sound advice and sensible investment suggestions. You’re expected to understand their financial needs deeply and be able to use your skills to guarantee them high returns, even in difficult periods

35 per cent of Americans employ a financial advisor in 2022, and demand is higher than in previous years.

This also means that competition is increasing. To deliver effective, efficient and valuable service, you must pay close attention to the following list of qualities and offerings. 

The nine things all clients want from their financial advisors

1. Trustworthiness, transparency and integrityClients will only work with advisors they trust, and this trust is earned through knowledge, honesty and integrity.

In 2020, with more advisors than ever speaking transparently to clients about the confusion and uncertainty of COVID-19, client retention rates among advisors reached an all-time high of almost 95 per cent.

From explaining your fee structure to discussing market conditions, don’t be disingenuous.  

2. The ability to explain things effectivelyThis leads on from point number one, because to be truly honest and open, you need to be an effective communicator as well as a competent advisor.

Keep things simple, be clear and use everyday language. Clients won’t understand a lot of the jargon you’ve become used to using.

Provide practical examples, too, to make things even more straightforward to contextualize and effectively comprehend. 

3. The ability to communicate quickly and directlyEven the best advisor won’t make a good impression on their clients if their explanation takes what feels like a million years to materialize.

Be prompt and direct in your communications. Don’t make clients wait and wait to hear back from you.

Be organized, strict about specified response timeframes and able to match expectations consistently. 

4. The ability to make clients feel heard and understoodAny good advisor must make clients feel heard. One of the best ways to do this is to ask lots of questions, from “What’s your attitude to risk?” to “What are you looking to get out of this investment?”

When you take the time to absorb a client’s responses and make recommendations based on them, you win points with them and provide more effective financial advice. Win-win. 

5. A good memory/management system for client informationSimilarly to point four, you need to be able to retain information about a client’s background, financial history and interests.

If you struggle to memorize personal details like interests, note them down in your client database alongside other details. Keep the services you’re offering as bespoke as possible.

Maximize your ROI and show clients you care about them as individuals.  

6. A willingness to prioritize client needs at every turnAs an advisor, your priorities should be as aligned as possible with your client’s priorities.

You should be suggesting and/or making investments that genuinely connect to the client’s best interests, never suggesting a product or service they don’t need.

Your role is to maximize your customer’s monetary gains, and this should remain your number one focus at all times.  

7. The ability to keep all promises that are made, and when possible, overdeliverWhen you make promises, keep promises and overdeliver where you can, you make your reputation with your client as positive as it possibly can be.

A client would always rather be pleasantly surprised than unfortunately disappointed, so expectation management is essential.

Get the balance right and you’ll please your clients and increase the likelihood of a referral. 

8. A well-organized, accessible serviceThis is an offering that can make or break the advisor-client relationship.

As an advisor, you should be fully aware of all the latest industry updates, regulation changes, laws and products.

You should be on time for every meeting, fully prepared, and especially for younger investors, flexible about where meetings actually take place (consider offering digital options to reflect the changed post-pandemic industry).  

9. A long, successful working relationshipClients want consistency and the knowledge that they can work with you for a long time if they choose to.

A long working relationship will also benefit you as an advisor, so it’s worth working extra hard to pursue and continuously cultivate.

A recent study by Bain & Company revealed that a customer retention rate increase of five per cent generally improves profitability by between 25 and 95 per cent. 

If you’d like more advice about meeting client needs as a financial advisor, Unbiased US is the right place to be.

Content writer

Kate Morgan

Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.