I was fortunate enough to spend part of the festive season in country South Australia nestled somewhere between Adelaide and the Barossa. A delightful part of the world and a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of Sydney, it’s one of those places that demands that you slow down and relax.
The festive season is never complete without abundant supplies of fine fare and being close to Adelaide certainly helps in that department. The Central Markets in Adelaide boast a fine array of artisan bread and cheese producers along with sprawling delicatessens, greengrocers and specialist butchers. Having visited this foodie heaven many times as a tourist I was at last there as a shopper, the one word not in my dictionary at this point was restraint. One very full car was driven back to the country about three hours later!
The main accompaniment to the fine platters of cheese and charcuterie resulting from the shopping expedition was good conversation and given that the assembled party had full knowledge of my profession it wasn’t long before the conversation drifted towards financial planning. Let me be clear that the conversation was in no way connected to requests for advice which given the circumstances would have been both dull and inappropriate. This conversation was a far more interesting one for me as it centred on others experiences with financial advisers.
To provide you with some context my hosts were an early 60’s couple that are self-funded retirees, they have a reasonable level of financial understanding and a well-considered financial strategy that they essentially put together themselves. Their experience with advisers wasn’t good which didn’t surprise me at all. They had a strong sense that the advice being offered to them was more about the adviser getting to his or her pre-determined outcome based on revenue and aligned products with only a cursory glance to assisting and supporting them on the financial journey that they had embarked upon.
This conversation neither was nor felt like a personal attack on me but they were intrigued as to how I differentiate myself from the type of advisers they had met while putting together their retirement plan. I indulged them by going through a theoretical client engagement and they duly responded by telling me that I had used language that was radically different from that which they had experienced. They suggested that the process felt more rational and resonated more closely with the type of advice they needed and further it gave them a fresh perspective from which to evaluate their current investment portfolio and retirement plan.
Hopefully I left my hosts with a somewhat improved opinion of financial advisers but having arrived back in Sydney I got to thinking about the key differential and I think it can be summed up as follows. Our process is designed to educate clients towards achieving their financial objectives, which is a vastly different client experience than simply being sold a financial plan. It’s about creating a process that puts the clients’ objectives as the genuine focus versus simply paying lip service to them under a cloak of compliance.
The irony of course is that a more enlightened and well-designed engagement process ultimately leads to more prospective clients becoming contented, long term clients which in turn equates to a healthy and sustainable advice business.
Have you had an experience with an adviser that was out of the ordinary? I’d love to hear about it.