As self-service and internet-based solutions continue to overshadow the work of IFAs and those working in the financial sector, never before has the competition been so fierce. Whether it’s banks, lenders, insurance companies or mortgage brokers – everyone is vying for the same clients and aligning their services to gain more value from these relationships.
Not only does exceptional customer service help differentiate products and solutions from other businesses, but it also reinforces the mutual trust, respect, and expectations for these existing relationships and is likely to create new ones through referrals.
Below, we’ve outlined the most important aspects of customer service in the finance industry and how financial advisors can implement these points into day-to-day communications and meetings with clients and investors.
Give access to the information they need.
These days, clients can often feel overwhelmed by the extent of investing options available to them. Investors with a high net worth are no longer only looking to the private markets to reduce portfolio volatility, which is why educating clients about their options will give them the knowledge they need to adjust their goals and to rethink their approaches towards investment.
Make frequent check-ins.
More often than not, IFAs neglect to frequently check in with their clients, which can heavily impact the integrity of the business. The financial landscape is constantly changing and there are always unforeseeable events that can change a client’s needs throughout the year. This is why scheduled annual reviews that discuss topics such as retirement plans, refinancing home equities, and other investment opportunities is key to building trust and maintaining client satisfaction.
Be fair and transparent with fees.
Whether it’s guidance on taxing, estate planning, investment management, or any other financial solution, every client wants the reassurance that they are being charged a fair price for the services they’re being provided. Pricing models for hourly rates, flat fees, commission-based rates, or AUMs should be fair, justified, and accurately measure up to the client’s portfolio and risk level.
Communicate on a personal level.
Financial advisors should strive to ensure any form of contact between them and the client has a personal and relevant touch. The internet is inundated with so-called “content” aimed at investors offering free financial advice. This is particularly the case with email spam, and naturally, this can leave clients doubting the authenticity of emails sent by a legitimate IFA. All email marketing strategies should be personal and helpful to each client, relevant and engaging, and most importantly, actionable.
Share educational content and updates frequently.
One, if not the biggest focal point of excellent customer service is communication. Clients need to feel heard and understood, which means narrowing the distance by proactively listening, showing empathy, and acknowledging feedback. Without these skills, clients may feel a sense of neglect and a lack of concern for their interests. Reaching out to clients to check in, share updates and offer educational insight regularly all give the impression that they are working with a financial advisor they can count on.
Stop relying on inflated retirement calculators.
It’s easy to throw big numbers around without properly accounting for the dozens of factors that come into play when a client is planning for retirement. Automated retirement calculators are often unrealistic in their algorithms, and the results are wildly different for each one. Many do not take into account the rate of return or risk tolerance, and some calculators do not factor in inflation at all. This is why IFAs should take the time to assess each client’s individual situation and use a realistic approach when reviewing their future goals and financial obligations.
Digitize and virtualize services.
Businesses and advisors that use technology instead of paper have a significant advantage over their competitors. Paperless onboarding makes the process of signing documents more convenient for the client, as does offering them a digital customer portal that gives them fast, non-stop access to tools, products, and content when they need it. Hosting virtual meetings instead of face-to-face meetups also enables IFAs to be more flexible with their schedules and better manage their clients’ expectations.
Make them feel part of the team.
Investors want to be kept in the loop about what’s happening behind the scenes. Although financial advisors are the centre point of communication and the overall experience, clients also want to know that they have robust technology and a strong, dedicated team working cohesively to deliver the best results. Partnering with a financial services firm that’s just as committed to the customer experience should also be a priority for any IFA serious about providing the best level of care to their clients.