When I started in this industry, I was a portfolio manager for an investment management firm. We managed portfolios for institutions as well as individuals who came to us. We met with those clients regularly and reported on their investments; often we shared our market or economic outlook. Sometimes the clients came to us through a recommendation from a broker at a large institution. No one called themselves a financial advisor and none of us gave our clients advice beyond their investments. Thank goodness our industry has evolved to one in which many different kinds of “financial advisors” offer more financial direction and solutions to our clients.
Today many financial advisors offer holistic approaches and a range of wealth management services including retirement and education planning, tax management, insurance assessments, estate planning and perhaps ongoing family education and philanthropic planning. Clients now expect these expert services from their advisor. After the market turmoil of 2022, it is clearer than ever that clients want even more from us and the advising industry needs to continue to evolve to offer the expertise and experience that clients seek.
At Summit Place Financial Advisors, we were very early to deliver fully integrated wealth management to our clients in 2008. As a boutique firm, we continually review and evolve our client service plans. Here are three areas we embrace today, and we believe the industry will follow:
Regularly Reviewing Strategy and Tracking Progress Against Goals: Like many advisors, as we get to know our new clients, we together identify short- and long-term goals. We then create a personalized strategy to help them reach their goals and we define performance targets that are most likely to help them reach their goals. We revisit this strategy and the goals at every meeting, never letting it collect dust or simply paper a file. We find that this simple review often uncovers an important update and assures clients that we are partnering to stay focused on their most important goals.
We also share an analysis showing clients how they’re tracking that performance goal on every quarterly report, confirming their progress to our agreed financial goals. In the market turmoil of 2022, many clients shared how valuable this review was in giving them long-term confidence in their wealth, especially when the market was dropping.
Checking in at Opportune Moments and Sharing Updates: While some clients may not appreciate overly frequent touches, we make a point of reaching out when we haven’t heard from a client in too long. Clients today expect the monthly and quarterly newsletters, but they appreciate genuine communication that reflects our knowledge of their situation and their interests. “We saw something that made us think of you,“ we might say, and we ask how things are going. We value knowing our clients personally; they value our interest and concern because financial journeys are not separate from the rest of life for anyone.
When the market or economy does get worrisome, we don’t wait for the next planned email campaign to share our outlook. We proactively share our thoughts and observations. Sometimes, we don’t yet have enough information to have a solid outlook, but our clients share that they appreciate our timeliness in acknowledging unsettling developments.
DWYSYWD! Do What You Say You Will Do: As clients desire and seek all the wealth management services the industry offers, we keep hearing how clients’ past experiences have fallen short. It is wonderful that we benefit from others promising more than they deliver, but our industry needs to catch up. We are all clients, ourselves, to any number of service industries. Is there anything more frustrating than a service that under-delivers? Today, there are so many developments in technology that can help advisors offer a seamless and full experience to clients. We use several integrated systems and processes that help assure us we can DWYSYWD!
In this profession we are in the extraordinarily satisfying position of genuinely helping people. Each day we know we have touched someone and helped them with a challenge or made their financial life easier. At Summit Place Financial Advisors, we continually evolve our capabilities, processes, and communications with one guiding focus- how can we continue to delight clients?
Over the past 15 years, the industry has followed our priorities and we hope they continue to do that to the benefit of all financial service clients.