It's Not Me, It's You: An Open Letter to My Financial Advisor

May 5, 2016 Matt Bramson

financial advisor client engagement

I see Halley’s comet more frequently than my financial advisor (FA).

How can I blame him? I am surely not his most important client. I am not particularly needy -- middle children usually aren’t. I have stated investment goals and work hard to achieve them. Why would he consider me a flight risk? You might guess high fees, but they have little to do with my wandering eye. Those high fees fund our once-a-year coffee. On him, of course.

My expectations are pretty simple. I am looking for:

  1. Personalized communications delivered more frequently

  2. Easier access to information on my account.

I’m not alone either. In fact, a recent Accenture survey of thousands of professionals revealed that engaging communications is one of the core drivers of satisfaction with their bank. Not only that, the research revealed that the absence of personalized outreach is one of the primary reasons influencing respondents to switch to another institution. Client engagement success has never been more important.

Attitudes like that might explain the shift to the newer, more modern model, robo-advisors. A recent CNN Money article cited that by 2020, robo-advisors will control 5.6% of Americas’ investment assets up from 0.5% in 2015.

I am likely to follow a similar path unless we (because he calls us a ‘team’) can address the following:

More frequent and more personalized communication

I get it. I don’t get the love because I’m a relatively small client. My FA re-uses material because he can, and he’s a busy guy. But, there are intelligent systems that would allow him, or his proxy, to speak directly to his client base (read: me) at the click of a button. My portfolio is different and my investment objectives are different.

On-the-go access

I travel often for my job and not being able to track my investment performance through an online portal is frustrating. Accessing my information through a mobile platform when I am on the road would be a nice starting point. Furthermore, I still get paper statements in the mail not only for my portfolio, but for every investment. We are, single handedly, keeping Dunder Mifflin in business.

S-p-e-l-l- I-t- O-u-t

What’s worse: the PDF’s need to be explained. There is no interpretive text. I can’t imagine how much time it takes my FA to read these out loud to all of his clients. Again, tools exist that can explain the data to me. It seems like a no-brainer for the firm because these type of tools benefit both the client and FA.

Traditional FA’s should be concerned with attrition if they don’t treat these points as mandatory, explorable options. Real change comes from the bottom up -- and, whether my FA will admit it or not, I am definitely at the bottom.

Quill for Wealth Management

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