New survey highlights differing perceptions of value between clients and advisers

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What do clients want and expect from their advisers? A new survey from discretionary investment manager, PortfolioMetrix highlights where advisers' and clients' ideas about the value of advice align and differ.

Earlier this year, 203 advisers took part in a PortfolioMetrix survey asking them to rank the key elements of their service that they believe offer the most value to clients.

During Autumn 2020, 30 advisers surveyed their clients with the same questions. The feedback from the 144 clients who took part reveals some interesting differences.

When the advisers were surveyed, it was the soft skills that scored the highest and ranked in the top three:

Empathy/being someone you can trust was the most popular (76 per cent)

Understanding a client's life goals was second (49 per cent)

Simplifying complex financial concepts and peace of mind shared third place (47 per cent each)

Other elements that scored highly among advisers included:

Building a personalised plan (41 per cent)

Consistency & continuity (39 per cent)

Behavioural Coaching (36 per cent)

When the clients were surveyed, empathy/trust also came out on top (72 per cent). However, the next four highest ranked with this group did not align entirely with what advisers listed. These include:

Peace of mind that a specialist is involved (59 per cent compared to 47 per cent in adviser survey)

Cashflow modelling (53 per cent compared to 18 per cent of advisers)

The "Gift of time", ie time saving from not having to look after their finances themselves (52 per cent compared to 13 per cent of advisers)

Asset allocation (51 per cent compared to 16 per cent of advisers)

Ben Peele, managing director of PortfolioMetrix UK, says: "The fact that clients value cash flow modelling and asset allocation more than advisers think they do is interesting, particularly asset allocation. It underlines the importance of providing clients with well diversified portfolios that align with their individual needs.

"However, when you look at the overall responses, it's not that surprising that there are gaps. Clients list tangible elements that they expect advisers to deliver, while the advisers focus on softer skills. Understanding a client's life goals and making sure complex financial concepts are explained and understood are not necessarily obvious value-add elements to clients yet they are essential to empathy and trust - something clients' value above all else."

The need for advisers to build their client relationships beyond the data-driven aspects is not just important for existing clients, it can also help advisers to grow their business with new clients - something many advisers are finding challenging during the current pandemic.

In a new paper, "The Insiders' Guide on How to Grow Your Business During Lockdown", a number of advisers share their tips on how to write new business. One of them is Mark Finster from Helm Godfrey, who has had nine client referrals since the start of the first lockdown. He believes existing clients are the most obvious way to grow business but only if you are delivering real value to them first and foremost. His tips include:

Focus on your existing clients - when they value you, they will naturally refer you to friends and family.

Prepare in advance for every client review: past conversations; their life stage; importance of family; career ambitions etc.

Don't make each review too focused on data. Speak to each client about their life - such conversations often lead to new prospects that neither you or they had anticipated.

Peele continues: "While our survey of advisers and clients has shown that there are differences in the perception of value, it's clear that trust is the absolute cornerstone of the adviser/client relationship. The more advisers can do to build that trust, the better it is for their clients and, ultimately, for the prosperity of their own businesses."