Was his client advisory board worth it?

   Mike Patton, who blogs about going independent at AdvisorOne, recently posted the results of his first  client advisory board.  He writes that it was one of the best things he has ever done, and for that I am thrilled if not surprised.  A client advisory board is the single most powerful business development and relationship management tool there is.  I just wonder if it was all worth the trouble.

All of his reflections on the experience refer to the reinforcement he received from clients about what he was doing.  He describes hearing for the first time about how a local estate attorney considers him one of only two financial advisors in town he trusts.  He says he created his new practice to offer something better, and, the article would indicate, his clients believe he has succeeded.

But how will this change his practice?  If all he walked away with is the warm glow of client appreciation, I am afraid he blew his chance for real value.  It is wonderful to hear how smart, successful and beautiful we are, but the real payoff of client feedback is in guiding you toward improving your services.

When I help financial advisors conduct advisory boards, I take a lot of care to set up the conversation so that the group discusses something right up front that can be improved.  Even before we get to the critical questions around differentiation.  We want to set the tone that open feedback is not only welcome, but encouraged and expected, and that our goal is to get the clients’ advice on what can be added or changed for the better.

I posted a comment to Mike’s blog asking about what the clients advised on ways he could improve his practice.  I hope (for his sake) that he got into those topics, and that he just didn’t think to include them in his post!

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