Early in 2020, we asked our adviser partners to rank the elements of their service they believe offer the most value to clients.

    From the 203 who responded, the element that came out as the clear winner was ‘empathy/being someone I can trust’.

    Towards the end of 2020, 30 of those advisers ran a similar survey with their own clients.

    The top answer from the 144 clients who took part echoed that of advisers. Yet interestingly, there were also some key differences on what advisers and clients perceive as value. 

    Value as defined by advisers

    Soft skills scored the highest and ranked in the top three with advisers:

    • 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 advisers ranked highly included:

    • Building a personalised plan (41 per cent)
    • Consistency and continuity (39 per cent)
    • Behavioural coaching (36 per cent)
    Value as defined by clients

    Empathy/trust also came out on top (with 72 per cent) among clients. However, the next four factors ranked as providing value were very different to the advisers’ list:

    • 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', that is, time saved 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)

    It's interesting to note that clients value cashflow modelling and asset allocation more than advisers think they do.

    While the soft skills that advisers rank in our survey are important, they may not always be particularly obvious to clients.

    The fact that the nuts of bolts of advice are listed so highly by clients shouldn’t be underestimated.

    Looking at the overall responses, perhaps it’s not that surprising there are gaps.

    Clients list tangible elements they expect advisers to deliver, while advisers’ focus is on the softer skills they know make a big difference to their clients.

    The role of an adviser in understanding a client's life goals and making sure complex financial concepts are explained and understood are essential to contributing towards empathy and trust – the things clients value above all else.

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