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Don’t Just Be a Financial Advisor — Become a Coach for Your Clients

Working to improve the financial advisor-client relationship, a businesswoman speaks with her client in an office setting
The best advisors help their clients achieve their financial goals for a lifetime. That “marathon, not a sprint,” mentality keeps the goal of a brighter financial future in mind. [Tempura / Getty Images]

As clients want more proactive advice and personalized plans, it may be time to step your game up. We’ve outlined 3 ways you can improve the financial advisor-client relationship by thinking like a coach.

The financial advisor-client relationship is shifting, with clients expecting their advisors to make more educated suggestions with less hand-holding. In other words, they want advisors who act more like coaches.

For example, when the financial advisor-client relationship works more like a coach and their player, the advisor can help provide enough background education so a client can make some financial decisions on their own. 

Learn from the leaders

We asked top wealth & asset management execs how they’re focusing on efficiency to deliver results for their clients. Our newest report addresses the gap between expectations and customer service.

Advisors can use this knowledge to aid in decision making and planning for their clients, offering more of a tailored experience. 

With the help of Industry Dive, we recently surveyed 153 senior employees across the banking, insurance, and wealth & asset management industries. This data helps pull back the curtain on service excellence within individual financial services organizations. 

Unfortunately, only 54% of wealth and asset management executives say their advisors use customer data to personalize interactions. We found that just 30% of execs indicated that their advisors use data to inform their immediate decisions.

The best use of data and a coach-like mentality creates more engaged advisors. Here’s how advisors can take this winning combination to their client interactions.

Meet clients where they want to be 

Good coaches know how their players best receive information, including how they prefer to communicate. Savvy advisors can use the data to understand their clients’ preferred method of communication. 

For example, a 75-year-old might prefer in-person catch-ups rather than a digital experience, while a 30-year-old may love using an app. Communication capabilities should exist for all age groups and all net worths. Investing in technology can help. 

In our recent survey, senior employees reported that their companies consider app development (46%), web experiences (42%), and channel expansion (26%) as high-priority areas over the next 12 months. 

Offer proactive advice in your financial advisor-client relationship 

The best coaches can anticipate what their players need to succeed. That means offering advice that’s specific to the current game — and beyond. 

Gaining a clearer, timely picture of your client’s financial data can allow you to anticipate what they might need now, and in the years to come. This can help you make more insightful, in-the-moment suggestions.

Take, for example, a client whose children are seniors in high school. A proactive advisor could say, “College savings time is over. Let’s hop on a call to discuss your next steps and new savings goals.” 

Advisors who take the initiative to create these more personalized connections for their clients will make better partners. This also helps build a lasting financial advisor-client relationship, as your client will know you’re looking a few steps ahead. 

Think for long-term gains

Coaches care about each play, but that’s only part of their job. A great coach sets up their players for long term success both on and off the field. The best advisors help their clients achieve their financial goals for a lifetime. That “marathon, not a sprint,” mentality keeps the goal of a brighter financial future in mind. 

An advisor could say, “I understand your goal is retirement and building wealth. But it doesn’t look like you have a checking account connected to a brokerage for monthly savings. Is that something you would like me to help you out with?” Doing so helps add to a client’s financial stability.

Although the vast majority of wealth & asset management execs say their customers are either mostly (54%) or extremely (28%) satisfied, there is always room for improvement. 

To build the trust necessary for a successful financial advisor-client relationship, you may need to dust off the playbook and start planning more like a coach.

Get your finger on the pulse

Our survey pulls back the curtain on what financial services executives think about their customer service offerings.

This article was written in partnership with David Deitch, director at Slalom.

Cody McKinney Marketing Manager, Financial Services

Cody McKinney is a global financial services marketing manager with Salesforce, focusing on wealth and asset management. He has worked in the wealth and asset management space for his entire career and in multiple capacities, including at New York Life Investments, Stifel, and Morgan Stanley, before joining Salesforce.

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