F2 Strategy’s Executives in Residence bring years of high-level experience to our clients and with that comes unique perspectives and powerful insights that wealth management firms can use to make critical decisions. Our “What I’ve Seen” series gives the executives an outlet to share their insights with the industry in three categories: driving change, marketing and sales, or customer-centric business.
Jen Fox speaks to customer-centric business in her discussion of transforming an employee base from being measured for quantitative value to qualitative value.
One consequence of the evolution of technology is that the wealth management industry has smarter clients in terms of their buying behavior. They are asking much tougher questions of advisors than a decade or two ago. This is a catalyst for a major transformation of the industry. One that will push formulaic, quantitative-driven advisors into a qualitative mindset.
A qualitative mindset means taking the whole client or whole family into account when developing an investment strategy. It can be uncomfortable for advisors to ask questions they’ve never asked before to get to know the drivers behind someone’s experience.
Why Leading with a Client Focus Matters
Wealth management leaders need to lead with a firm commitment to client experience first and foremost. If you don't get that right, it doesn't matter what your sales strategy is; or what your revenue projections are; you're not going to attract your next client, and you're not going to create a culture and reputation that people can be heard at that firm.
What is often forgotten or ignored is that a client focus only works in absolute tandem with a good employee experience. If you're not treating your employees well or engaging your employee base and also hiring the right employees to really drive the empathetic experience, you’ll never have a good client experience.
Transforming an Employee Base to Align with Clients at a Legacy Firm
Industry firms that are starting from scratch building culture are few and far between. Many of us work at long standing legacy firms with long standing practices. Changing from the idea that an advisor’s value is based on the stock trade performance to the idea that an advisor’s value is based on getting to know the client or client’s family and asking tough questions is a difficult process, but one that ultimately leads to a place where the satisfaction level of advisors is increased.
Change leadership is incremental, additive, visionary and storytelling. Leaders need to ask, “Are you on the same side of the table as your client?” Are advisors putting themselves in their clients’ shoes and asking the right questions.
Employee transformation is accomplished through a combination of tactics.
First, leadership must really understand what they are asking the team to do as well as what drives each advisor. Leadership should acknowledge and express that what they've done has been very good and still offers a tremendous amount of value while adding that the new approach is a way to continuously improve your book of business and take it to the next level. Provide examples and success stories.
Second, from the advisor perspective, the issues that stymy transformation often relate to understanding the nuts and bolts of what it takes to make it happen. Through examples of the language they can use and role playing, they can learn how to have the right conversations with clients. Establishing a repeatable process can also help them manage change during these busy, stressful, and volatile times.
Finally, check in with both advisors and clients to see how things are resonating and establish a long term mentality so that advisors understand that this initiative is not going away.
Technology Enables the Creative Process
The advisor’s value is not in the time they spend doing paperwork. Spending five to seven hours customizing a welcome letter won’t feel more customized to the end client. Technology should be used to streamline some of the standard communications so that the real customization can be put in the appropriate place. When strong technology systems are in place to handle the routine needs, advisors are free to be creative in their conversations and communications.
How to Know that Change is Working
The metrics of success are closing more prospects or closing larger prospects. Share those success stories across the firm and explain the process behind the success. Share qualitative feedback from clients across the firm as well.
As you bring your team on board with new practices and technologies, get in touch for support.