Published by Ron Carson
For more than 25 years, our firm has relied on a client advisory council for candid feedback on how to better run our firm.
The council is made up of a carefully selected cross-section of our clients—men and women, young and old, professional and retired.
They’ve given us great ideas, but two years ago I became curious, wondering if we would get similar input if we set up advisory councils for groups of clients who we see as integral to the future growth of our firm. With this in mind, we set out to establish two new councils, comprised of female and millennial clients and prospects.
What we learned was invaluable—and surprising.
The Women’s Advisory Council was comprised of eight women with assets under advisement ranging from $1 million to $10 million. A few minutes into our first meeting, it became obvious that these women had notable feedback to share that they might not have if we had not provided the opportunity and platform. Our team focused on gathering as much information as possible about the ideas and concerns this group of women had about our firm’s offerings, culture and communication.
For one thing, even though we’re a team-based company, the participants weren’t thrilled with the way they as clients were communicating with a team. They preferred having a single point of contact and wanted to get to know the person who would be managing their account.
Another concern that hadn’t previously been brought up in our council meetings was the lack knowledge about funeral planning. Some of the women told us they wished they’d had help with planning the funeral of a spouse or loved one, including recommending we create a very specific checklist they are able to complete.
The council also communicated that they wanted a quick tagline they could use when referring people to our firm. Sharing with us that many of their friends and co-workers found the idea of a wealth manager or financial advisor intimidating, we collaborated on referring to these individuals as wealth advisors.
The women spent far more time reviewing the agendas we send before client meetings, wanting to be prepared and ensure they would get the most out of the discussion. Often small details like an agenda are overlooked when trying to put together a client meeting, but it is important to recognize that these small details are important and could make the difference between a great client meeting and a difficult one.
The feedback we received highlighted the importance of being thorough in everything that we do. It is the nuances of a firm’s services that differentiate one from the other. When prepping for client meetings and working with families (even multiple generations), it is important to communicate in a way that resonates with all.
As for the Millennial Advisory Council, those findings were just as intriguing. What has been reported about their generation was a lot different from what we heard them saying. In my next blog, I’ll share some of the surprising comments they made about our firm and the future of the financial services industry. They shook up my perceptions of how best to serve our young adult clients and will probably surprise you, too.