In our industry, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the primary purpose of our business which is to service the financial needs of our clients. Personal, professional and even corporate goals may lead some of the best financial advisors to occasionally place their focus in a direction that is not in the client’s best interest but in theirs. When this happens, it goes against the “science of service”.
In the short-term this shift of focus may help the advisor accomplish a goal but typically in the long-run it can only be counterproductive because it goes against what should be all about an advisor’s integrity. Once this “line” is crossed it is that much easier to cross it again because an advisor’s definition of what that “line” is becomes blurred by excuses.
Mahatma Gandhi said it best when he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. I believe this is very true. However, that begs the question of, “What constitutes service?”
Understanding the Science of Service
Most advisors and agents think that the definition of service is to answer incoming client calls, hear what they need, drop everything and attend to their requests. However, that is a very reactive client servicing system. And, while this type of servicing is obviously necessary at times it is not the only thing that clients need.
Step 1: Having a High Level of Integrity
Over twenty years ago, I asked John M. the most seasoned financial advisor in the office a simple question, “Can you run a financial advisory practice with integrity and still make a great living?” He simply smiled and said, “You will make more money than you could ever imagine as long as you continue to do the right thing.”
Unfortunately, we have all met prospects who owned products that were inappropriate for them. Instead, the advisor who sold them these types of products probably did so because the advisor was thinking of their own best interests.
Ironically, the “Science of Servicing” begins even before a prospect becomes a client because recommending an inappropriate product(s) is doing the prospect and yourself a disservice.
A level of impeccable integrity must continue when they do become a client!
Step 2: Having a High Level of Product & Market Knowledge
Clients entrust their hard-earned money to you because they believe you not only have their best interest at heart but that you fulling understand the right investment strategies for them. That’s why it is so important to take the time to keep abreast of your product and market knowledge.
An example of this is Paul C. a financial advisor client of mine who spends at least 30 minutes each morning reading something related to the stock market, the economy and/or various products that he recommends to his clients. He says that by doing so he feels well-versed to answer any questions that his clients or prospects have.
Step 3: Having a Pro-Active Client Servicing System
Most financial advisors want to service their clients in the best way possible, but many financial advisors fail to understand “how” to service clients effectively because they do not understand what great service means.
David P. a client, was “putting out fires” all day long which made him feel exhausted more often than not. That is until we designed a pro-active client servicing system by segmenting his book, clearly defining his client servicing levels, systematizing his client servicing activities and delegating many of the day-to-day interruptions to his staff. It didn’t take long before David felt back in control of his day!
Why Servicing is Not an Art
Hopefully by now you can relate to the advisors in each one of the examples and realize that what they are doing is not an “art”. In other words, it is not subjective. To John M. integrity is the cornerstone of service, to Paul C. knowledge is imperative to keeping his clients informed and having the right investments and to David P. having a pro-active client servicing system gives his clients and himself peace of mind. To these advisors their activities are not open to interpretation. Instead, they have adopted a “Science of Service” mindset.