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Dan Richards

Over the past few months, we’ve all read about "the new frugality" that has become part of our culture.

Consumers are rethinking their spending plans – yielding some surprising results about how people decide their priorities in tough times.

A recent Wall Street Journal article described the impact of personal connections on decision making. One West Coast woman said “Lawn and pool services that send a different crew every week are easy to cut. It’s much harder to pull the plug on someone that has cut your grass or cleaned your house for years, who has brought vegetables from their garden and shown you pictures of their kids.”

Some owners of independent restaurants were interviewed for the story. “One of the few advantages I have over the chains,” one restaurant owner said “are the personal connections I make with my customers. I make it a priority to recognize my regulars and know where they like to sit and how they like their coffee. I ask about their kids and show them pictures of mine. It’s the connections that I create as a result that lead to real loyalty.”

Financial advisors can learn important lessons here.

Some advisors take the stance that they’re in the business of providing a professional service – and have little interest in exchanging the personal details of their lives. And if that’s your style and where you’re comfortable, that’s fine.

But understand that if you just focus on the business part of the relationship you are missing the opportunity to develop the deeper connections that lead to loyalty in tough times and referrals in good ones.

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