Client reviews and perceptions are what get you referrals

Your value is what the client says it is

You know the value you deliver to clients. Or you think you know. You are not actually the authority on that topic. The client is. Their perception is the only one that counts. It is the basis of any referral they may make. If they don’t perceive or understand it, value was not delivered.

Have you ever had the experience of not knowing a client was unsatisfied until you receive notification of the outgoing transfer? Of course. All advisors have. Do you believe you are not delivering value to that client? It may be that you are not delivering no value, but that you are not delivering enough. In any case, they went somewhere else because they did not receive sufficient value, regardless of how much you believed you were delivering.

A new marketing maxim has developed over the past few years: you are who Google says you are. It is less important what you perceive yourself to be because when it comes to attracting and retaining clients, what matters is what turns up when a prospective client goes looking for you.

It’s not enough that your clients perceive some value. They need to believe you deliver more value than the other options available.

It’s like the joke about the two hunters who meet a bear. Surviving the encounter does not require that you be able to outrun the bear. You just have to be faster than the other hunter.

There’s a story told by an advisor who has a leadership role with a popular fintech application that helps advisors deepen conversations with clients. He was shocked to receive notice that one of his best clients was transferring out his accounts. He had only just met with that client recently. When he called to find out what went wrong, the client explained that while he appreciated all the advisors work, as he reflected in their recent review meeting, he could not justify the level of fees being charged. When he was going through the transition of selling his company, the advisor’s guidance was critically valuable. But now that he was comfortably in retirement, he perceived the asset management fees to be more than the ongoing advice justified.

You may have invested time and effort developing a value proposition you believe is strong. Does it match what the client believes is the value they receive in the relationship?

Clients who refer can only describe the value they understand and can articulate. If you are not getting the referrals you believe you should, maybe you should hear what your clients are saying about you.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Ask – you may not be able to simply ask what value they receive but there are lots of ways you can discover what clients value about your relationship.
  • Clarify it for yourself – clients can only articulate your value as well as you can. If you are not happy with how you answer the question “what is the benefit of working with you?” you may want to invest some time reflecting on client feedback to strengthen your description.
  • Reinforce value in client interactions – repetition is the mother of instruction. Don’t worry about saying the same things to clients over and over. They will not remember what you said specifically enough for it to become overused.
  • Be specific – reiterating to clients that you deliver competent guidance or peace of mind won’t do it. Speak as specifically as you can about the actual outcomes you create with them.
    • Doing this, we saved $X in taxes.
    • We have now positioned your portfolio to…
    • Updating these plans, we made sure your kids are protected.
  • Check back – make feedback an ongoing conversation. Client needs change over time. There is more value to portfolio management when the market is declining. Clients need different things as they go through different transitions.

Your value is what clients say it is. Curate it and business development may become a lot easier.


Have you asked clients recently about their changing outlook and expectations? If not, you run the risk of losing relevance. Download our free guide “5 Reasons to Listen to Your Clients (or Someone Else Will)” by clicking on this link:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top