That was the message to delegates at the PFS Financial Planning Symposium at Wembley this morning from adviser Jason Butler.
He told them that “if we think about things about clients’ point of view rather than ours” then “we will probably give them much better experiences” and “run better businesses”.
The tangible benefit that they feel they get that is the important thing, he said.
He talked about taking a client centred approach, which he said involved, from their perspective:
1 get and keep me well organised
2 help me make smart decisions so I make most of life
3 give me confidence I’m not going to run out of money
4 help me be more resilient so I can get threw whatever life throws at me
He encouraged more advisers to get involved with producing videos for their websites, saying engagement was crucial.
He said: “Clients would rather do root canal surgery than talk about money… so we have to make it engaging for them.”
Cartoons or whiteboard animation are more effective than talking heads and videos like this can be made at low cost, he explained.
Videos showing real clients talking about why they like their services can be a powerful tool, he said, adding that people can easily dismiss written testimonials.
He said this can be as simple as asking them to talk to the iPhone at the end of a meeting and summarise how they were helped. If the video is good you can ask the client if they mind it being used for the website, he said.
He highlighted a video by Steve Martin, a Chartered Financial Planner, as a good example because he comes across as authentic.
Planners should definitely be making good use of social media as well, he said, saying that there is a good chance 80% or more of clients use. But he emphasised that the content had to be relevant, regular and shareable.
He stressed the importance of financial organisation as a service, saying planners don’t realise how valuable this is to clients.
He used the example of a client, who came to him years ago. In his 60s, Bob said his single biggest problem was he was useless with his financial paperwork and he kept it in a box and kept adding to it.
Mr Butler said he offered to “organise his financial life” and the client agreed to pay a fee. He explained that the box of paperwork was so large it looked like there was “a couple of bodies in it”. This simple help can be seen as invaluable, he said and pointed to a service called ‘Organised’, created by KMD and Kevin Deamer, for which clients pay a fee.
He said this was an entry-level service, which was not regulated, but was “immediately valuable” and offered “healthy fees”.
He dismissed the rise of so called robo-advisers, saying he believes very few of these models will survive in 5-10 years in the current form.
The real value comes in the life planning and Financial Planning, he said, adding: “Robos can’t do this because it’s hard and takes skill. This is the service they (clients) should be buying.”
He encouraged more delegates to offer a fixed fee Financial Planning service.
He also stressed how crucial it was to listen well, admitting he “wasn’t always in the room” with clients due to so many thoughts buzzing around his head.
He said: “You will be judged by the quality of the questions you ask clients, but you will be judged more by the quality of your listening. In order to listen you have to have a clear mind and be non-judgemental. You shouldn’t have a pre-determined outcome in mind. You need to be present, you need to be in the room.”
He said: “If you’re having a good time in a client meeting, there’s a good chance that they are as well.
“If you deliver enduring value then you will always be able to command the fees you deserve for the service you deliver.”
On fees, he said planners shouldn’t be winning more than 70% of pitches, and if they are, then they are not charging enough.