From Trust to Loyalty – Five Ways to Deepen Client Relationships

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Every day, individuals are presented with a seemingly endless stream of news and often conflicting analysis. Investors aren’t sure how to read the mixed signals. Skepticism is healthy, especially in a digital world where nothing is as it seems: Social media has enabled false pretenses and the Internet makes sources of information an ever more important consideration.

Investors can find themselves struggling to distinguish between expert advice and propaganda.

Natixis Global Asset Management recently surveyed1 individual investors to gain insights into financial advisors’ relationships with their clients – and uncover lessons for advisors hoping to strengthen those relationships. The key takeaway: Clients’ trust in their advisors runs deep; however, advisors can earn even higher levels of trust. Advisors who can fully deliver on client expectations will go beyond trust to lasting loyalty.

The good news is that investors have a robust baseline of confidence in their advisors. Nearly nine in 10 investors surveyed (88%) say they trust their investment professional. Yet advisors can do more. Just one-third of investors say they are completely happy with what their advisor is currently providing them.

To build lasting trust, it needs to be earned. Our survey findings suggest five steps advisors could take to strengthen client relationships.

Up your game to meet client expectations. Some advisors focus on asset allocation, believing their job is to deliver a diversified investment portfolio – period. But that’s just a start. The survey found that investors want much more professional help. They also want their advisors to assist them in tax planning (41%), evaluating risk (40%), estate planning (36%), long-term care (24%) and managing debt (19%). Advisors should expand their toolkit, acquiring the expertise to meet client expectations and becoming more like the full-service family offices used by high-net worth individuals.

Don’t forget about the soft skills. Even as they build new quantitative skills and capabilities, advisors need to understand that investors also want them to talk about other concerns. For instance, significant numbers of investors say they want their advisors to offer investments that are better connected with their personal values (30%) and want help engaging their families in discussions about financial planning (25%). Most of all, they want their advisors simply to listen more (40%). Automated advice has a place in financial services, but so does the human touch, and advisors who can connect with their clients beyond digital spreadsheets will be more successful.