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What advisers are saying: Do you really know your clients?

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A bloke from Brighton posted a joke advert in Gumtree in June, which offered free rent in a flat for anyone willing to wear a walrus outfit that he had specially made for two hours every day.

During this time, the post said the candidate would have to fully embrace the role of a walrus as well as make walrus sounds.

The result? American screenwriter and actor Kevin Smith was so taken with the post that he decided to use the idea and make it into a horror film called Tusk.

Sometimes, the most random stimulus leads to unexpected and seemingly unconnected results.

Fifteen minutes after reading this story I got thinking about how well advisers really know their clients.

This probably had nothing to do with the walrus story, but there you go. So how well do you know your customer?

Do you really know what your customer wants or needs… or are you just guessing? Do you really know why your customer likes to do business with you…or are you just assuming?

There may be differences (big or small) and they may, in turn, have a profound impact on the level of success you enjoy.

Guessing the answers to all of the above questions won’t cut it. As management consultant Peter Drucker says: “What the people in the business think they know about the customer and the market is more likely to be wrong than right. There is only one person who really knows – the customer.”

A small illustration – field consultants from a life company recently reported back to their marketing team, having spoken directly to advisers that the client literature was far too long and would lead to client disengagement.

This feedback was rooted in advisers’ beliefs that the client relationship is with them (not the provider) rendering literature superfluous to the advisory process.

Our interviews with clients, though, revealed a far greater requirement for detailed product guides, even where adviser-client relationships are strongest. One of the single biggest marketing mistakes is guessing what attracts current customers to do (and continue doing) business with you.

Guess correctly and you might get by. But incorrectly assessing what customers really value can be pretty costly and you will very likely waste a great deal of time and money by throwing the proverbial you-know-what at the wall and seeing how much sticks.

This doesn’t sound smart at a time where adviser businesses are under a great deal of pressure as unbundled prices remain unexpectedly high in spite
of the value chain being shorter.

Phil Wickenden is managing director of So Here’s The Plan phil@soherestheplan.co.uk

Extracts from IFA interviews…

What_advisers_are_saying_Dec_5

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