How do advisory firms methodically create and manage deep client trust?
While protecting profitability and reducing dependency, building advice platforms and skills for advice teams to build deep trust in their client relationships is the third of six principles discussed during 2024 planning discussions with two great Certainty Advice firms – Joel Seach’s and Tim Carrigg’s.
I like Brene Brown’s definition of trust, using her acronym BRAVING.
I believe the elements of BRAVING act as connectors between the deep trust and deep value that drives every advice relationship.
VALUE IS DEEP
An advisory team’s core role is identifying and managing a client’s value.
It is deeper than most advisory teams, and clients expect.
The vast majority of clients presenting themselves in the offices or conversations with financial advisers are there to focus on a specific aspect of their retirement, investment, insurance, mortgage, tax strategy, superannuation, or spending habits.
Their lives, however, are much more complex.
The average first marriage in Australia lasts about twelve years.
The average life of a small business in Australia is about four years.
The average tenure in a job in Australia is a little over three years.
One in four Australians reports feeling lonely at least one day a week.
The statistics are clear.
Client value is less attached to specific products or services provided by their financial advisers or accountants and more connected to the additional capability, direction and confidence provided by the advice.
Judging by the adviser-client conversations we’ve reviewed, however, the majority of value conversations between today’s financial advisory teams and their clients fail the depth test.
Apart from technical skills, most advice teams lack the skills to perform at the required depths.
Going deep into client value is tough.
It requires much more than clever questions and a snazzy graphical user interface.
This November will mark twenty years since my first series of value proposition workshops for advisers and accountants.
My next workshop, in late February ’24, will be the start of my 60th.
Core to our skilling is the review of client discovery meetings that advisory teams conduct with prospects and clients as they position their value propositions.
I’ve figured my team has reviewed approximately five thousand client-adviser conversations over the last twenty years and discovered the biggest hurdle teams face when identifying and managing the delivery of client value.
Advisory teams attempt to ‘be right’ and over-dominate their Discovery Conversations with the ‘right’ or ‘correct’ technical response rather than relax, listen, and position their probing conversations to understand what ‘getting it right’ means and is significant for their clients.
Worse still is when advisory teams use shallow and thin attempts with goal-oriented or other ‘deep’ probing conversations merely as a ‘sales tool’ to secure a client’s confidence and initial engagement with little intention to re-run the value conversations in subsequent years convinced that the majority of ongoing value is fundamentally a performance conversation about products.
Enduring client-advisory relationships are built (and rebuilt) on valuable and deep connections, not only on technical strategies.
For instance, when advisory teams go deep into value conversations, we often hear clients respond with something like, “We haven’t discussed that…” or “We haven’t given that much thought…” to which many advisers immediately disregard the topic.
However, for advisory teams skilled in discussing deep value, these unexplored topics are often the essence of the client discovery meeting, producing insightful discussions rich in significant client value.
The objective of a deep understanding of client value is to serve each client’s best and significant interests consistently, valuably, methodically and specifically.
Making consistent and specific deep connections with each client ensures clients feel heard, their views are affirmed, and they have the confidence, a trusted relationship and a forward path to achieve what is of significance to them.
The resulting confidence is the glue in the advice relationship – not built solely upon a technical ability, but a consistent ability to build valuable relationships beyond technical ‘best interests’.
However, there is an essential principle when going deep – don’t go solo.
A fundamental difference between a comprehensive advisory team in 2023 and a future team operating in 2033 will be how client advice is delivered and valued.
Comprehensive advisory teams will be far more collaborative.
Today’s AI headlines don’t scratch the surface of how machine learning will revolutionise advice by 2033.
The financial options available for Australians in 2033 will explode well beyond today’s recognition.
Back-office out-sourcing options and variety will boom beyond a few team members working from a Filipino office.
Communication methods and speeds will make a joke of today’s high-fibre rates and bring new meaning to virtual relationships.
Driven by the lure of taking fractions of every transaction in Australia’s burgeoning $6T superannuation pool, the 2033 technologies will discover new market vacuums and creatively destroy much of what we consider high-tech today.
How do advisory teams thrive in these trends?
Clients of good advisory teams in 2033 will consistently and vulnerably share their fears, aspirations, situations and journeys with their advisory teams, not just their advisers.
Prioritising team collaboration is a decisive and crucial step away from the last thirty years of building advisory firms with an over-reliance on a few rugged and talented advice characters who can perform many of the four essential professional traits of finding work, doing the work, leading the team, and building loyal clients.
2033 collaborative teams will listen better, probe better, challenge better, position better, advise better, manage better and care better than their 2023 predecessors and the AI-driven competitors.
Important too, they will significantly diminish a crippling Achilles heel of today’s advice industry – key-person dependency. This is not only in the best interests of every firm and shareholder but every client who receives consistent value from their team ‘in their corner’.
The benefits of deeper client relationships, greater team collaboration, and reduced key-person dependency for advisory teams are clear.
What’s less clear are the priorities needed to achieve these.
That’s the next blog.
Photo credit: shutterstock_2192226243
ABOUT JIM STACKPOOL
For over 30 years, Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted financial advisory firms across Australia. He founded a training firm, Certainty Advice Group, to coach, skill and build advisory firms delivering comprehensive, unconflicted advice with fees priced purely on client value. He is growing a collaborative community of advisory firms aligned to his firm’s comprehensive advice model – Certainty Advice – Australia’s only Certification Mark accredited by ACCC and IP Australia for impartial financial advice. He presents at conferences, has judged professional advice awards, written industry white papers, chaired practice management curriculums for tertiary institutions, and authored four books on financial advice – his latest released last year – What Price Value.