Advisers need to deliver a total wealth perspective to clients
Experience shows most clients would value an adviser firm that provides a holistic view of their entire finances over one that reports on just the assets it manages, says Sim Sangha, business development director at Sammedia
Does your advisory firm only report to clients on the assets under your management? Many software vendors or even personalities within your business may view holistic reporting on every aspect of a client’s life as surplus to requirements.
Instead adviser firms compensate by providing comprehensive reporting which shows wide-spread analysis including risk-rated asset allocation, stock overlays, cashflow forecasting, rebalancing, time and money weighted returns and other sophisticated reporting. However, what tends to be missing is summary information or context to guide clients. This results in lack of clarity and understanding from a client’s perspective.
Creating a summary matters
High level summary information across the spectrum of a client’s financial life allows a client to have an anchor-point by which to interpret the detail sitting behind the scenes. This gives them far greater insight into and understanding of their total wealth, ultimately, making the client’s life a lot easier too. It is the summary information that stays in the client’s mind as they evaluate any other detail. For example, the initial price offered for a used car sets the standard for the rest of the negotiations, so that prices lower than the initial price seem more reasonable even if they are still higher than what the car really may be worth.
Summary information should also be extended to reporting on all aspects of a client’s life, regardless of what is under management within an adviser firm. Why? Because it matters to them – it’s as simple as that.
A complete view of the client’s assets provides perspective, particularly when understanding the value that your prudent management as an adviser adds in terms of performance when compared to those held-away assets. But it’s difficult to make this comparison when the managed assets are reported separately to non-managed ones.
A holistic view also provides context. Any changes in asset value are viewed in context of the entire portfolio. Such changes can seem much more dramatic when viewed in isolation and the contextual view allows the client to better understand their financial position as a result of those movements. It can also show in an easily accessible and graphic way the value you add as an adviser in the overall management of their wealth.
Additional business/ assets
Finally, one could also argue you don’t know what you don’t know, and if there is no convenient mechanism or reason to encourage full disclosure, then you simply will never find out about undisclosed assets. Advisers now have the technology and opportunity to provide clients with an everything in one place service. How does your current client reporting stack up against this new alternative?
You would never construct a client’s financial plan or cashflow forecast without knowing as much as possible about their assets and liabilities, income and expenditure, so why would you only report on the assets you manage?
This is likely to be due to technology limitations, so if you are not achieving holistic reporting on everyday finances as well as portfolio reporting, adopting new technology that can give you that advantage simply makes sense.
Chartered financial planning firm Myers Davison Ginger Ltd (MDG) made holistic financial reporting central to its client proposition, delivering increased client satisfaction and, in turn, increasing its business levels.
Myers Davison Ginger Ltd (MDG) is a leading chartered financial planning firm focused on delivering the highest level of advice and service standards to its clients. The team
of nine advisers provides holistic financial planning through lifetime cashflow, investment management, mortgage and protection advice. It does this through efficient processes supported and managed using the latest technology.
In building its proposition, MDG found it was essential to underpin every process with the right technologies. In delivering its proposition, the firm wanted to demonstrate value and exceed its clients’ expectations.
“We want to be ahead of the game in everything we do, to reinforce our proposition at every opportunity,” says managing director John Davison.
MDG recognised that true understanding of a client’s expenditure is critical to financial planning, especially when conducting lifetime cashflow analysis. However, asking clients to guesstimate this information via paper-based forms meant the client relationship could get off on the wrong foot.
“Clients were being asked to do work before they had even seen any value from us,” says Emma Crocker, operations director at MDG. “They just don’t want to do that. We needed processes that delivered tangible value at every point in our client proposition and to have that from day one.”
So MDG implemented Moneyinfo as a key part of its overall advice and service proposition, with the aim of bringing together all the elements of a client’s financial situation and presenting it in a compelling and engaging way.
“Most clients are seeking to make sense of their finances, to make sure that they are doing the right things. Even our most high net worth clients absolutely do care where their money is going. Moneyinfo shows them that,” Davison says.
Working with clients
Perfecting MDG’s client proposition and making Moneyinfo an inherent part of it involved a cultural shift within the business to get the advisers focusing on what was important to the client, says Davison.
“You need to make it work but it can take time and perseverance to get your advisers into different habits. Yet once you get there it’s absolutely worth it. Our referrals and funds under management are going through the roof right now. We are seeing client inflows of over £6m per month.”
The advisers introduce Moneyinfo to their clients in face-to-face meetings, so they can get the client registered and walk them through the benefits of the service and how to use it. As part of the core client service, Moneyinfo is built into the firm’s website, brochure material and client correspondence. Advisers even book portal sessions with clients, which gives them another reason to meet and talk through the client’s finances.
As an intuitive process much of the learning process occurs through experience but further support is provided through internal monthly briefings with staff, which also helps to constantly refine the overall proposition, including the use of the client portal.
Davison says that the firm’s clients are regularly logging into Moneyinfo, some every day, and MDG’s advisers use Moneyinfo to help clients better understand their income and expenditure, demonstrating why the technology is such an important starting point to the financial planning process.
“We empower our clients though the Moneyinfo client portal and our clients love it,” Davison says. “Bringing Moneyinfo in as a core part of the MDG client offering has benefitted not only our clients but it has had a transformative effect on our business levels, resulting in increased referral business and funds under management.”