As I mentioned in a previous blog, moving to digitally assisted discovery is a matter of priority for firms as they look to improve onboarding. Discovery has traditionally been focused on understanding a client’s goals and aspirations, and tailoring client-centric financial and non-financial implementations to meet them. Clients historically had to do much of the heavy lifting, providing, once again, personal financial information they’ve probably offered up previously. It can be cumbersome and off-putting. And what they get in return still varies widely.
Clients are too often shortchanged as part of the discovery process in terms of what they learn about your firm’s management style; such as the proposition you can offer, and the service expectations they should have. They are providing a wealth of targeted information to you and should receive no less in return. Rather than being on the defensive when justifying servicing, fees or other elements of the experience, advisors could use this time to help discover what clients will value and allow them to better understand what they can expect going forward.
This two-way communication is becoming increasingly important as we think about the DOL, CRM2 and other regulatory changes in North America. As firms are held clearly to a fiduciary standard, clients increasingly expect their advisors to understand them on a personal level and to offer products tailored to their specific requirements. Beyond just investment and insurance implementations, this includes knowledge of how clients expect to be served, how they hope to include their families in the financial planning process and the value they place on advice.
As you build out your discovery toolset, be sure not to gloss over the necessity for two-way communication. I see plenty of firms take a light hand in this area and then feel the pain that comes with that on the back end of the process.
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