Finding a good advisor / client fit is critical. Like any relationship – working or otherwise – you need to find common ground to develop trust, and it will become apparent to one of the parties if it’s not working out. Across my career in financial advice, I’ve seen situations where advisor / client relationships go awry, which can happen for a number of reasons.
Sometimes – like in any relationship – advisors and clients just don’t gel as people. It’s important for an advisor to understand what sort of person their client is and provide service on that level. Is the client into technical detail? Or would they prefer to engage on an emotional level? Understanding this helps build a strong relationship from the outset.
On some occasions, I’ve seen advisors engage too deeply with one partner, while neglecting the other in error. For example, when dealing with a couple, one of the individuals might be less engaged with the process, resulting in an advisor paying more attention to the other individual. This can be fraught with danger as it sidelines one half of a team, but is easily avoided by understanding how each partner wishes to engage and providing the expected service to accommodate those wishes.
Another example of an advisor / client relationship that might be doomed to fail, is if one of the parties feels like they’re getting much more than the other throughout the relationship. For example, an advisor might feel a win if they are receiving fees for a very low maintenance client that is very happy to pay. On the flip side, an advisor might find themselves in a situation where they are constantly servicing and responding to a client, in return for very low fees. These fees might have been negotiated with the client in the beginning, based on a very different agreed level of service. This can result in feeling somewhat uncomfortable about the amount of time that is being invested with the client, or creating an awkward conversation for both parties to renegotiate fees.
As soon as the expectations of either advisor or client go off balance, that’s when there can be a complaint brewing. However, this situation is easily avoided by setting clear expectations at the outset and ensuring both understand exactly what is going to be achieved from the relationship.
We find these mismatches are less likely at Viridian due to our rigorous onboarding process. Our advisors really take the time to understand their clients on a deep level, and ensure they establish their goals and needs before going on to develop any type of advice.
We also place great importance on making sure that our clients have the advisor most qualified to handle their specific set of circumstances. This can mean that you may have more than one advisor attend a client meeting.
Like any relationship, finding the right advisor / client fit comes down to making the effort to really get to know the other person, and clear and open communication is key.
Joanne Morgan is a Business Operations Manager at Viridian Advisory
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