Financial advisors need to prevent clients from ‘bad mouthing’ them even more than they need clients’ endorsements, according to Bob Oros, an executive at Fidelity Investments.
“Consumers have enormous power today—it’s different from a few years ago. In the past, if a client was unhappy, he or she would complain to a few friends; now a person can reach hundreds or thousands on social media,” says Oros, head of the registered investment advisor segment for Fidelity Clearing and Custody Solutions.
Fidelity on Thursday released its eighth annual Fidelity Investments’ Millionaire Outlook study, which explored whether clients would recommend or promote their advisors, or if they would be detractors.
Advisors rely on their clients to drive referrals, which generate 48 percent of new business for advisors and help drive organic growth, says the study of 1,287 investors.
The study found that 55 percent of millionaires are promoters, meaning they are loyal to their advisors and likely to recommend them to others, and 65 percent of those consider their advisors to be their friends.
However, that is only part of the picture, according to the study. Despite seeing the value in hiring professional financial advisors, 45 percent of millionaires would not recommend their financial advisors to friends or colleagues and 20 percent are unhappy enough to consider leaving their advisor and would discourage others from working with the advisor.
“Advisors need to recognize they are acting in a fishbowl today,” Oros says. “Some advisors think if they have not heard any criticism from clients, they are OK. But that is not true. Advisors need to ask for feedback from clients frequently.
“Advisors need be seen as ‘360-degree people,’ not just as one dimensional,” he adds. “They also need to service clients in a way they want to be served, whether that is a steak dinner meeting, an e-mail or a tweet.
“We have entered a ‘referral economy’—where we, as consumers, thrive on sharing the people and things we value with those in our social and professional networks. While this presents a tremendous opportunity for advisors, the challenge is uncovering the formula that drives millionaire clients to recommend them rather than remain silent—or worse—leave,” he says.
According to the study, millionaires who have a formal financial plan developed by their advisors are seven times more likely to recommend their advisors.