Financial advisors are not communicating effectively with clients’ spouses and children and they are losing business because of it, according to an FPA study released Wednesday.
The 2014 Trends in Client Communication Study shows that nearly half of financial advisors (48 percent) say fewer than three quarters of their clients meet with the advisor as a couple. Another 18 percent say fewer than half of their clients meet with them as a couple.
The survey included 411 financial professionals and was conducted by the FPA Research and Practice Institute and Advisor Impact. It was conducted as a follow up to the institute’s inaugural survey last fall that showed client communication is a major gap in current practice management.
“Effective communication is paramount in any service-based business, but it is especially true for financial advisors,” says Lauren Schadle, FPA executive director and CEO. “Advisors who are not differentiating themselves in their client communications are not reinforcing their value proposition with existing clients and, unfortunately, with their clients’ spouses and children.”
Forty-two percent of advisors are proactively trying to recruit younger clients and only 34 percent are actively working to build relationships with clients’ children, the survey shows. Because of this, many advisers are going to fall short on building profitable businesses for the long-term, FPA says.
“Baby boomers and retirees are target clients for many advisers,” says Valerie Porter, director of the institute. “To offset client and asset attrition inherent in that group, advisors would be wise to build relationships with that group's survivors, and to diversify their practices with younger clients to ensure the long-term viability of their businesses.”
Sixty-eight percent of advisors say they gather feedback from clients in some form, with informal feedback being the primary method. Among female advisors and advisors under the age of 40, 77 percent say they gather feedback compared to 65 percent of older male advisors.
Fifty-six percent of advisors have formally defined service standards in place, which can include such things as frequency of contact or response time to clients.
Only 30 percent of advisors indicate that they review and reinforce service standards with their clients.
“The reality is that an advisor can have a great client communications plan, but, if it is not formalized and communicated, the value is significantly reduced,” says Julie Littlechild, CEO of Advisor Impact. “There is a discipline to defining, assessing and communicating a plan and, based on the data, there is room for improvement across the industry.”