Being Client Driven Lets You Deliver More Value at Lower Cost



I spoke with an advisor last week who invested a significant amount of money in a system to provide client access to account and performance information on-line and who finds that practically no clients actually use the system. In fact, my conversations with advisors leads me to believe that this is more the rule than the exception. This is a dual tragedy. The advisor is spending money on something that clients don’t really care about and that drain on resources, both in money and staff time, limits the opportunity to do things clients might love.

Most of the time, the idea to put information online originates with the advisor. Clients are not usually clamoring for web access (although this is not always the case. John Gugle of Alpha Financial Advisors in Charlotte, NC implemented an online system because his advisory board suggested it.) And most innovations will necessarily originate with you rather than your client, as I have written before. The missing link in many practices is whether you involve your clients in evaluating the idea before fully committing to it. Andrew Sullivan of Sullivan & Schlieman in Atlanta demonstrated the value of engaging clients in evaluating new ideas when he proposed offering a concierge service to his best clients. He brought it to a client advisory board meeting, where it landed with an audible thud on the table. It was an unusual example of unanimous disinterest. And finding that out fairly early saved his firm a lot of money and effort.

It is a good idea to ask clients about the value they place on existing systems, services, and benefits, too. Are there things you do for clients they don’t really care about? Events, things you send them, services you offer, parts of your review meetings? Eliminating anything that consumes resources opens the opportunity to focus on other things, current or proposed, that they value more. Pareto taught us that most of our value is created by a minority of what we do.

Being client driven means engaging clients in helping you focus your strategy on delivering the best experience. Part of that is learning what services or expertise you can add to separate yourself from other advisors. And part of it means eliminating what does not add value.

The benefit of that last part, of course, is that you can be more focused on your clients while lowering your expenses.    


  1. retirement homes NSWFebruary 27, 2013

    Excellent read! Thank you for sharing this interesting post. Couldn't agree more with you on the essentials of becoming a client driven. Fantastic share!!

  2. Stephen WershingMarch 8, 2013

    Thanks for the nice compliment!


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