Better client relationships-and more referrals as a result-can be achieved by financial advisors who actively engage their clients in the investment advice process, says a survey conducted by Advisor Impact Inc., a practice management consulting firm in Toronto.    

   Survey results were presented this week by Advisor Impact president Julie Littlechild during her keynote presentation at the Financial Planning Association's Business Solutions conference in Chicago. The survey contacted 1,000 investors who use financial planners, including a significant number of high-net-worth individuals with $5 million or more in investable assets.

   The survey shows that clients who are actively engaged in the investing process have a higher satisfaction level with risk, use more added services from the advisor, and have a higher level of satisfaction that the investments are meeting performance expectations.

   That means advisors need to intimately understand their clients' goals, proactively manage their relationships and clearly explain difficult financial concepts to clients.

   Successfully undertaking these objectives, Littlechild says, enables clients to feel they are receiving good value for their fees. They'll also be more confident in the skills of the advisor's team and will have a strong personal relationship with the advisor. And a satisfied customer is more likely to pass along referrals.

   The full results of the survey will be available in April.