Regularly collecting feedback from your clients can save you money, help resolve problems before they get out of hand, save time, and improve client service. But running a client survey for financial advisors isn’t straightforward. First off, most of us avoid the client feedback exercise for years on end. No one likes getting negative feedback, but taking the time to solicit opinions from your clients can help you do more of what works and improve the services you offer.
We recommend that advisors collect client feedback once per year at the very least. Following tax time when your schedule has calmed down may be the perfect time. There are a few mechanisms for getting feedback. The gold standard for both qualitative and quantitative feedback is a Client Advisory Board. An easier and often more palatable option is a client survey for financial advisors. We’ll review both types below.
Running a Client Advisory Board
These focus groups meet at a regular cadence, ideally quarterly, to discuss what is going right and what could be improved in the firm. Each client advisory board should consist of clients who are most representative of the ideal client you’re trying to get more of. It’s best practice to not invite spouses to serve on the same board during the same year, since they likely share similar experiences. Typical meetings last anywhere from one hour to a full day.
If you’re like most advisors, your first objection to creating a client advisory board is that you feel uncomfortable asking so much of your clients. This is a valid concern, however we find that folks enjoy having their opinion asked and are happy to contribute to help your firm serve them better. So many clients are retired from professions where their input was valued and many miss the opportunity to contribute their insight during retirement.
Don’t be shy asking clients to volunteer on your advisory board. At best, they’re providing feedback that will allow you to tailor your service to their needs in the future; at worst, they’ll likely get a free lunch.
We suggest hosting the first meeting of your client advisory board over lunch at a local country club or the private room of a restaurant. A 60 to 90 minute discussion over lunch provides plenty of actionable feedback, just be sure to record audio from the session or have an assistant take diligent notes.
Key discussion points to include are:
- Would you recommend our firm to a friend? Why or why not?
- Do we meet your expectations?
- Do we return phone calls and emails on time?
- What is the most valuable thing we bring to the table?
- Which client events do you enjoy the most?
Be ready to address any concerns or problems that come up and take the time to follow up with a plan for how you will implement the feedback to improve your practice.
Creating a Client Survey for Financial Advisors
Not ready to face a group of clients dissecting your firm’s service over lunch? We don’t blame you. To get started incorporating client feedback into your practice, begin with an annual client survey. Surveys have some advantages over advisory boards, such as being less expensive and confidential, so you are more likely to receive open and honest opinions. The format also allows you to ask about the financial needs and goals of clients, which could be less comfortable within a group setting.
At Indigo Marketing Agency, we are big fans of the tool Survey Monkey, which allows you to create surveys up to 10 question and get up to 100 responses for free. It’s easy to build a survey and share the link by email and social media.
Helpful questions to include in your client survey are:
- How would you rate the overall service you receive from our firm?
- Is the frequency of our portfolio review meetings adequate?
- What are your most pressing financial concerns?
- What can we do to better serve you and your family?
Be sure to include both multiple choice and free form answer choices so that clients can express their opinions and concerns. Once the survey is over, compile the data and consider sharing the results and the changes you plan to make with clients. This type of transparency inspires clients to help you improve your practice and often increases referrals over the long run since they feel like they’re a part of your firm’s success.
When was the last time you made a point to get client feedback? If it’s been more than a year, take action today to implement either a client survey or advisory board. You may uncover some changes that need to be made, but in the long run you’ll have happier clients, higher referability, and a more efficient practice. If you need help, we run client surveys for financial advisors as part of our Monthly Marketing Package. Learn more here.