“Talk to me,” could be the refrain of almost every investor who fires an advisor and goes in search of a new one.

An advisor who communicates with clients in a timely fashion seems to be at the top of everyone’s wish list, according to results of a survey conducted by Financial Advisor magazine and interviews with advisors.

Mark Kemp, head of Kemp Harvest Financial Group in Harleysville, Pa., says he recently had a couple in his office who had gone through five financial advisors before winding up on his office doorstep. Their complaints about the other advisors were that they did not return telephone calls and they did not explain investments well enough.

“People do not understand the math or rates of return. They are looking for handholding and a relationship,” Kemp says. “If someone calls me, I will call them back by the end of the day. The customer service model is the ideal American business model, whether you are selling financial products or cars.”

If an advisor handles that process well, he or she will generate referrals from satisfied clients, he adds.

In a recent survey of 1,375 advisors conducted by Financial Advisor magazine, advisors were asked to select the top three reasons that clients fire advisors. The biggest vote getter was "failure to communicate on a timely basis," which was chosen by 72 percent of advisors as one of their top three.

"Failure to understand the client’s goals and objectives" ranked second, chosen by 51 percent, and third was "failure to promptly return phone calls," by 44 percent.

In the fourth spot was "poor investment performance," selected by 34 percent. "Making claims they can't keep" came in fifth with 22.5 percent, far behind the communications issues.

“I’ve been hearing this for 15 years -- that a lack of communication is the reason clients leave their advisors,” says Sean Ciemiewicz, principal at Retirement Benefits Group in San Diego. “The sooner you can talk to a client about a situation – good or bad – the better it will be.

“In 2008 we made sure we were talking to clients more than at any other time to assure them we were in this for the long term and that we had a plan in place,” he adds.

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