Advisor Feedback: Success Strategies from Top Performers

“There’s no better way to up your game than to listen to your clients,” said Mary Kralis Hoppe, CIMA, Senior Vice President, Field Sales, US Global Wealth Management at PIMCO Investments, during a panel on advisor feedback during the NICSA GMM last month. “Oftentimes, there are a lot of disconnects as to what we think they need and what they actually want.”

 Hoppe moderated the panel, which featured leaders from Cerulli, ClaroAdvisors, FreedmanFinancial, and Merrill Lynch.The discussion included an overview of Cerulli’s recent research on these disconnects.

“One of our favorite tricks is to ask wholesalers what they think their advisor clients want to hear about, ask advisors what they actuallywant to hear about, and then point out the differences,” said Scott Smith, Director, Research and Analysis at Cerulli.

In a recent study, for example, Cerulli asked advisors what they value in terms of the services their wholesalers provide. “Advanced financial planning ideas” came in as the second most requested service. However, only 23% of wholesalers thought their advisor clients were interested in such ideas.

 Marc Freedman,CEO, President, Owner, Freedman Financial, said every advisor needs to justify the fees they charge. “As advisors, we need to expand the scope of the services, the knowledge, and the breadth of the information that we provide to our clients.”

Marcie Behman, CIMA, Managing Director – Wealth Management, Private Wealth Advisor, Merrill Lynch, said her firm has evolved its platform over the years, not only to address how the markets have changed, but also to serve a client base that has gone from a typical net worth of $5 million to upward of $40 million.

“We have to focus on what we bring to them with that size of a portfolio,” Behman said. “They’re very focused on wealth transfer, wealth structure, and wealth protection.”

In terms of wealth transfer, Behman said one of the trends she’s observed is what she calls the “the great divide.”

“The younger generation is learning and embracing technology,” she said. “Their behaviors, their mindsets, and how they live their lives is radically different than the people who created the wealth — but they’re going to inherit all the wealth. So it’s a very interesting dynamic and we spend a lot of time talking to our clients about how to transfer this money.”

Ryan Belanger,Managing Principal and Founder, Claro Advisors, LLC, has set up a practice that leverages modern innovation to better serve tech-savvy customers. “My goal was for clients to be able to do everything from their phones — and we’ve accomplished that,” he said.

Because they’re immersed in a mobile-centric world, younger generations also expect lightning-fast communication, Belanger said. “From a service perspective, you have to step up your game and be available almost all the time, because clients who are used to communicating that quickly have higher expectations,” he said.

Because of the internet, younger generations also live in an age of information overload. Echoing Freedman’s earlier comments, Hoppe said this era presents an opportunity for advisors to prove their worth.

“We all have to work harder … whether we’re an asset management firm or a financial advisor, and one way to justify your fees is to make some sense of all the stimuli coming at people and be that interpreter,” she said.

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