Many clients’ definition of success these days encompasses far more than simply having lots of wealth. Being successful increasingly means achieving important personal and professional goals along with possessing a deep sense of happiness, significance and purpose. 

Do you understand what your clients want out of life? Do you know what “living their best life” means to each of them? Are you ready to help them achieve what really matters most to them?

Your answer to those questions should be a resounding “yes.” The reason: Research by CEG Insights reveals that if you can dig deep and go beyond money to determine what each client’s ideal life looks like, then help them achieve both their financial and nonfinancial aspirations, you’ll position yourself to drive significant organic growth in your practice.

Major Benefits Of Helping Clients Achieve Their Vision Of Success
You have an excellent opportunity to organically grow your business by taking a holistic approach to client success—asking investors about both their financial and nonfinancial definitions of success and helping clients live their best lives.

Consider, for example, that nearly one-fifth of investors overall (17.6%) told CEG Insights that they’d move more assets to an advisor who inquired about their goals and aspirations outside of finances. What’s more—as seen in Exhibit 1—those percentages jump to 38.4% for millennials and 34.6% of Gen X clients.

The really good news: The wealthiest investors are particularly interested in working with advisors who help them lead a life of significance and meaning. Consider that nearly a quarter (23.3%) of those with $10 million to $25 million in net worth are extremely or somewhat likely to move more assets to advisors who inquire about their nonfinancial definitions of success.

Think about what adding even a handful of clients with, say, $20 million in AUM could mean to your future.

This opportunity for growth doesn’t stop at additional client assets. Advisors who inquire about life outside an investor’s finances will also likely benefit from increased client referrals. Overall, more than a quarter of investors with at least $1 million in investable assets (28.8%) would be at least somewhat more likely to refer contacts to their advisor if the advisor asked about various aspects of their life. Here again, the wealthiest clients stand out—with 36.2% of investors with investable assets of between $10 million and $25 million being at least somewhat likely to refer their advisor if the advisor took that action.

Action Steps
Those are the reasons why you need to learn about your clients’ definition of a successful and significant life. Here are some key strategies for how to do exactly that—and then use that knowledge to differentiate your service offering.

1. Ask the right questions. Dig deeper into how your clients define success by asking open-ended, probing questions about what they value in life and want from it. Also ensure you’re practicing active listening as they respond. Pay close attention to what clients say, without interrupting or imposing your own ideas of success. Focus on comprehending their values, goals and aspirations.

2. Understand your clients’ most important family relationships. To effectively serve your clients, you must understand who matters most to them—and while this will often be their children, it could also be a beloved grandnephew or even the child of a close family friend. Don’t assume; ask questions about key relationships during your initial and ongoing discovery.

3. Practice inclusive communication. Ensure you’re setting up your married clients for long-term success by proactively including both spouses in meetings and on calls and email correspondence. This ensures that if one partner passes in the future, the other isn’t caught completely unaware of the couple’s financial situation. Also, educate and empower both partners about financial concepts, investment strategies and long-term planning. Provide resources that cater to different learning styles and encourage active participation by both individuals.

4. Tailor services to different wealth levels. Your clients with a net worth of up to $5 million likely have different ideas of what makes for a life of success and significance than clients with a net worth that exceeds $5 million. Ensure you’re adapting your services to meet your clients’ changing net worth and needs.

5. Leverage specialized services. To effectively provide your clients with a full range of services aimed at helping them achieve their vision of success, create and maintain a network of high-quality specialists—attorneys, accountants and others—who can provide your clients with expert guidance.

6. Perform ongoing client-centered discovery. Go beyond surface-level information gathering, asking questions to uncover what truly matters to clients regarding their money, their aspirations for success and the underlying values that drive their decision-making. Talk to them about their concerns and feelings, aiming to understand the factors that impact their relationship with money and their most important goals.

7. Ask clients to transfer assets. Be aware of triggers that tend to prompt clients to consider transferring assets—such as major life events, portfolio changes or shifts in tax laws—and regularly offer to perform diagnostic reviews of all of your client’s assets, including those managed by other advisors.

8. Position referral requests as a second-opinion service. Request client referrals by positioning them as an opportunity for a client’s friends, family or colleagues to get a second opinion from you on their financial goals, strategies and overall wealth management.

Move Beyond The Money
Success isn’t simply about accumulating wealth—it’s about life outside of the account statement or investment balance sheet. Investors are looking for advisors who care about their life beyond their financial accounts. Younger investors, such as millennials, are ready to shift their assets to advisors who really “get” them.

You can help those investors—and yourself—by ramping up client engagement and identifying both financial and nonfinancial ways to boost success as your clients define it. Advisors who are willing to look beyond wealth and ask about their clients’ nonfinancial dreams and goals have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

George Walper and Catherine McBreen are managing principals with CEG Insights (formerly Spectrem Group), leading innovators in wealth management research. Dive into our exclusive insights and strategies with our latest "Play to Win" Report. Unlock Your Path to Success—Download Now!