The Danger of a Satisfied Client

What kinds of experiences do your clients have with you? Would they say that you’re reliable and that they’re satisfied with your services? If so, watch out. In a highly competitive industry, keeping a client “satisfied” may not be enough. Lack of conflict or complaints doesn’t necessarily equal loyalty. It could just mean the relationship is forgettable, and thus, vulnerable to disruption.

According to a study by Russ Alan Prince and David A. Geracioti, only 33.5% of "satisfied" clients and 13.4% of "moderately satisfied" clients said they would give their primary financial advisors additional investable assets. Yet 94.5% of those who identified as "loyal" said they were extremely or very likely to stick with their advisors1.

Think of your own experiences as a customer at a luxury restaurant, hotel, or department store. Chances are your mind jumped to interactions that were either extraordinarily good or extremely bad. But experiences that are just okay? Those typically rank low on recall.


The quality of your relationship to each individual client matters more than ever. Today, 72% of online adults use social networking sites with the 65+ population tripling in the last four years to 43%2. Your clients talk, and now they can talk to hundreds and thousands of their peers at once. What do you want them saying about you?

Sending your client a signed holiday or birthday card is a nice gesture. But it's also a predictable one, the "go-to" for any service professional. So think about your practice from the perspective of an outsider, and consider creative and consistent ways to make positive impressions.


According to Thomas Fross of Fross & Fross Wealth Management, one of the most successful independent financial planning firms in the nation, there is no silver bullet for client management and retention. Key to your success is varying up your strategy based on how your client likes to be engaged. "Just as a balanced investment portfolio should include a variety of investments, a balanced practice-management strategy needs to include multiple ways to engage clients and prospects. Different clients will respond to different actions," Fross says.

However you choose to engage, there are three underlying principles that Fross recommends to help your practice stand out above the rest:

WOW Quote


It isn't everything, but it matters more than you might think. Think about how your image would be perceived by current and prospective clients. Do you exude professionalism? Having an office, wearing a tie, and taking the time to craft a consistent personal brand are all important to your bottom line.


Your clients need information and reassurance on an ongoing basis—especially in a volatile market. Make it a priority to engage in frequent and meaningful communication with investors. If you don't, studies show that they will move on to an advisor who will.


Do you make your clients feel special? Do you acknowledge them in unique ways? Average isn't good enough. But when clients feel valued and important, they are more loyal and more likely to refer you.

Providing extraordinary service can also expand your client roster. According to the Prince and Geracioti study, those "loyal" clients provided nearly 12 referrals to their primary advisors, compared to just 2.1 from "satisfied" clients and 1 or less from "moderately satisfied." So that time and effort spent going above and beyond truly pays off in more ways than one.

1 "Cultivating the Middle-class Millionaire: Why Financial Advisors are Failing Their Wealthy Clients and What They Can Do About It" David A. Geracioti, Russ Alan Prince; Wealth Management Press, 2005.