Sunday, July 15, 2012

How to Elicit from Feedback from a Client Advisory Board

I've been out and about, attending conferences and speaking with lots of advisors about VALUE - what does it mean to clients and the public given everything that's gone on the past couple of years - and how they are refining their Value Proposition in light of all that?

The audience and panelists at the fi360 Annual Conference last week had some really good ideas on Articulating Your Value as an AIF or AIFA designee. If you are a part of the fi360 community, be sure to go to the designee portal and download my slides and presentation audio recording.

I've been on the discussion boards recently with Members of the Garrett Planning Network talking about Articulating Your Value as a Member of the Garrett Planning Network. So, Garrett Members, you know how to access that conversation.

It was fun meeting members of NAAIM - the National Association of Active Investment Managers - in Orlando on May 3 and discussion how to get started with a Media Relations plan.

More great news - Bob Vere's new white paper report on The Future of Advice is now available for FREE DOWNLOAD at You won't want to miss reading this 109 page missive.

Let the good times roll!

Next week, I host a discussion forum online for - the topic? Articulating Your Value as an Advisor Today. It's free and open to all financial advisors, so do join what I hope will be a robust discussion there. Who knows, maybe I can use your comments in a future article or speech.

FYI I'll be in Chicago next week for the NAPFA National Conference May 19-21. I'm moderating a panel discussion Friday May 21 on What's Working Now: Best Marketing Ideas with 4 accomplished NAPFA members from various sized firms. Looking forward to seeing old friends and new there.

Then in June, I'll be speaking twice (Power of PR / Ask the Media Stars is presentation #1 and Redefining Your Value as an Independent Financial Advisor is presentation #2) at Securities America's annual conference in Huntington Beach June 2-8 and then at Pershing Insite on June 11 (the topic there is Redefining Your Value as an RIA Today).

So ... back to the interactions I've been having with Garrett Members. Sheryl Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network, Mary Lacey Gibson, business planning coach for the Garrett Planning Network, and I came up with a few tips on how to gather feedback from your clients so that you can build a strong Value Proposition.

Here, with a little reworking, is the gist of that conversation.

To get it right ... your Value Proposition, that is ... you know what your best qualities and, gulp, weak spots are. A good way to start the process of understanding the real value you bring is to speak with your clients directly. While surveys can be good, personal conversations oftentimes yield a more candid and meaningful conversation.

Here are some tips on getting feedback from a select group of your clients - in person.


  1. Determine your list and invite the right people.
    · Review your client list.
· Select 8 to 12 clients that you feel you have a real solid relationship.
· Give them a call.
· Tell them that you're forming a client advisory board and you really appreciate their friendship, respect their opinions and would love to get their feedback on how they feel you could best improve the quality of your clients' experiences with you.
· Invite them all to meet with you together. If that’s not possible, visit with them individually in-person or over the phone. In-person is best as you will have a more rich and honest conversation that way.
· Tell them you will send an email (or mailed) confirmation and short list of questions in advance of the meeting. Ask them to come prepared to talk about the questions.
  1. Get them thinking between the invitational call and the feedback meeting.
· In an email or letter, recap the time, date, location and purpose of the meeting. Include a list of questions. Ask them to come prepared to talk about the questions.
· Questions might include:
a. If you were to describe me and the work we've done together to a beloved family member or friend, what would you say?
b. My business grows through referrals from satisfied clients. What would you suggest I do to increase the likelihood that clients will recommend me to their family and friends?
c. When you were first searching for a financial advisor, what factors caused you to select me? What could have made that process better for you?
d. What do you appreciate most about our relationship?
e. Is there anything bothering you about our relationship?
  1. Host the meeting.
· Pick a quite, comfortable setting. Use a conference room or private meeting room and have breakfast, lunch or refreshments catered in. Minimize distractions.
· Welcome people as they arrive and get everyone settled.
· Provide an opening statement about the purpose of the meeting. Ask people to be totally candid.
· Ask your questions and take notes. Have a staff member or trusted business colleague take a duplicate set of notes (you may not be able to hear and capture everything on your own).
· Thank the attendees and promise to use their advice.
  1. Send a thank you letter or email.
· Recap the top take-aways.
· Tell them you are in the process of incorporating their feedback into your business.
· Invite them to a Progress and Update Meeting in 60 days so that you can report in and get additional ideas on how to improve your service to them.
  1. Repeat Steps 2-4 above, but instead of asking them the original questions, ask them to come prepared to offer additional insights and advice based on the key takeaways from the last meeting and the progress report you’ll provide.
In addition to a client advisory board, we also suggest a business advisory board. Find successful business owners, in particular, service businesses, in your community that you can learn from, share your ideas, gains and pains with. These people, once they understand what you are trying to contribute to the health of the community will become your referral sources and cheerleaders. All of them are serving the same small market and may have experiences that mirror yours.

You may be amazed how generous people are when they know you and like you and you ask for their help. We like to help people we care about. These clients won't expect anything in return for their candid feedback and wonderful ideas, other than seeing you take action and keep the channels of feedback flowing. Your clients want you to stay in business. They will help in any way they feel they can. Just ask.

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