Breaking barriers – how to change client perceptions

Around one in five clients believes financial planners are too expensive, according to a recent research study.

This perception represents a barrier for both planners and clients, but the onus is on us, as financial services providers, to consistently deliver the value we promise. When a client perceives that a product costs too much, it usually has more to do with the value they associate with the product or offering than the actual price.

Value of advice is a concept that as an industry, we need to continue sharing. It’ll be a gradual process, but we need to reinforce that financial planners aren’t simply there to sell products. Our value lies in our ability to ensure they understand their needs and goals – and to help them structure their financial plans and actions in line with those goals, using the most appropriate tools and offerings.

Financial advisers spend their time understanding the intricacies of a complex economy and financial industry, building their expertise and experience and gaining in-depth and ongoing knowledge on the benefits of various financial offerings. Clients can tap into that expertise without having to do the same level of research themselves.

At the same time, clients need to know what they’re paying for, and as financial advisers we need to meet their expectations in order to build trust and demonstrate our value. We’re responsible for ensuring the client is crystal clear on our role, what the planner can control and what they can’t, and what services they can expect. We then need to fulfil those promises.

If a planner exceeds a client’s expectations consistently and the client can see the benefit of the relationship, there’s a greater probability that they’ll see the value of using a financial planner.

In addition to face-to-face interactions, an intermediary’s online reputation also has the potential to make or break client perceptions. Prospective clients will often search for a financial planner online. If done in a responsible way, you could share suitable and valuable content online, to showcase your track record and professional approach.This enables the client to learn more about an intermediary, build a favourable perception and make an informed decision.

Consider that every interaction with clients, whether face to face, telephonic or online, is an opportunity to reinforce your value-add, and change perceptions.

* Research by Liberty