Are You Willing to be Accountable to Your Clients?


One thing preventing us from getting more clients is our unwillingness to take their advice.

Susan Hammond, who conducts and blogs about customer advisory boards, posted a provocative question last week. She wondered whether some companies have avoided an advisory board because of the accountability involved. There is a big risk and assembling some of your best clients unless you are willing to take their advice, whatever it might be. In fact, this is probably the biggest risk in organizing an advisory board. Many  more advisors tell me their biggest fear is that something negative might happen during a meeting, although I have yet to see that happen. I have difficulty even imagining it happening.

A reluctance to take a practice in a creative new direction clients would find valuable, or to cancel plans for expansion in a direction clients do not find valuable, is something I see more frequently. It is the dark underbelly of the personality it takes to succeed in the advisory business. We have to persuade clients to do things they don’t want to do, like save for the future. Like staying in the market as it reaches its low point. We are in the business of telling people what they should do. We know best. But, when it comes to creating value for clients, “I know best” is wrong. In that situation, the client knows best.

Scott Carlberg is a member of the advisory board for John Gugle of Alpha Financial Advisors in Charlotte, North Carolina. In a video interview about his experience, he says “done right, a client advisory board will deliver some news you don’t want to hear. But you have to face those things if you want to create a competitive advantage.”

Are you willing to take your clients’ advice, and create a financial practice tailored specifically to their wants and needs? Many advisors won’t. They will take their practice where they, the advisor, wants it to go. But the advisors who will be accountable to their clients will differentiate themselves from their competitors and will find it much easier to attract new clients.

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