Recent research about the financial services industry suggests we have some work to do as to how our industry is perceived by the general public.
- In 2016, the financial services industry (for the fourth consecutive year) ranked dead last out of 15 industry categories.
- Only 1 out of 3 customers are strongly committed to continuing to do business with their financial institution.
- While 45% of wealth managers believe clients perceive them as Trusted Advisors, only 28% of clients actually consider them so.
- Nearly 80% of affluent clients have assets at more than one firm - 25% of those spread them across 4 or more firms.
 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer  JD Power and Associates 2010  Weatherill Executive Consulting Study 2011  CISCO Survey 2011
Combining these facts with the recent issue facing Wells Fargo (and therefore all of us) regarding their sales practices, valid or not, this serves to fuel our challenge with public perception.
So what is it that we are missing that leaves our constituents so jaded about our industry and limits our ability to take client loyalty and sales revenue to a new level?
Several years ago, due to my state in life at that time as a husband and father of four young children, I took an opportunity to step away from the financial services industry to serve as the head of a private Catholic school. Thanks to my experience in financial services, I was able to bring some unique perspectives that helped the school overcome some of the growth challenges it was facing.
Now back in the financial services world serving as a Senior Consultant with Greene Consulting, where our mission is to help our clients more effectively engage with their clients to drive client loyalty and sustainable revenue growth, that experience in education has served to reinforce 4 key fundamentals that we at Greene Consulting believe – if applied more effectively in the financial services arena – will serve to fundamentally transform the market’s perception of your organization, significantly enhance client loyalty (as well as associate loyalty) AND drive sustainable revenue growth.
The 4 Key Fundamentals
These 4 fundamentals should be considered whether you are leading an organization, a team, or your own practice. While their application is more naturally embraced in the education world with its innately “noble purpose” (and many in the financial services arena first write them off as “fluff”), at Greene Consulting we have had the opportunity to apply these with some of our clients with profound results.
1) Define Your Purpose
Our school defined a very clear Purpose and consistently articulated that Purpose – or “Promise” – to our clients (i.e., the parents of our students). (Note that this was NOT the traditional mission statement, value proposition or “pitch”, but a very succinct and to-the-point “Promise”.)
- A client satisfaction rating of 98%. This is unheard of in any organization, particularly a school with clients as tough as today’s parents who expect perfection from the school on behalf of their kids!
KEY QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- What is YOUR Purpose (or the Promise you make to your clients)?
- Does everyone understand it and align to it?
- When communicating your value to clients and prospects, do you focus on your products/services (you) or your Purpose (them)?
2) Deliver a Truly Client-Centered Experience (not just saying you do)
Because of the commitment to our Purpose, everything we did was about our students and our clients (parents). If anyone or anything fell short of this, it was easy to recognize. Anyone who was not so focused or unwilling to align to the Purpose was not hired or was dismissed.
- Our clients fell in love with our culture and our “product,” seeing it in action every day, leading to a 30% increase in enrollment ... the highest in school history.
- What steps have you taken to ensure your clients see you as truly focused on them throughout the relationship experience and not on your own success and profitability?
3) Build a Culture of Trust
School leadership’s commitment to our Purpose called for us to live it out every day and support our teachers in doing the same, thereby ensuring their confidence that if they fulfilled on our Promise and did the right thing for that client – even if the client was left dissatisfied – they would be supported and recognized. (Note – this is a big deal in the education world as it should be in financial services!) As a result, all who worked for the school could trust that everyone’s intent was purely focused on delivering on our Purpose and, if not, it would be addressed.
- 97% job satisfaction among faculty and staff.
- How are you ensuring that your associates are empowered to deliver on your Purpose and can trust that leadership will support them in doing so?
4) Operationalize the Purpose
The final (and most difficult) key to ensuring differentiated success was to put in place the processes and procedures to consistently deliver on our Purpose. Just stating a Promise and committing to it was not enough. This required defining concrete standards around classroom management and client engagement, coaching and performance management disciplines reinforcing the Promise, etc.
- Consistency in execution and performance that led to recognition as one of America’s Top 50 Catholic schools.
- What processes and tactics are you employing to effectively operationalize (and monetize) your Purpose?
- How have you gone about defining execution standards to ensure consistency in fulfilling your Purpose?
What to Expect in Financial Services
While there certainly are vast differences between the financial services world and education, these four fundamentals, based on our experience, clearly align to both, leading to:
- Increased client loyalty
- Sustainable revenue growth
- More new business leads/referrals
- Enhanced credibility in the marketplace
- More emotionally engaged/convicted advisors
To see the impact of the work Greene Consulting has done in this area in part of our efforts to support our financial services clients in the delivery of a distinguished Client Experience, download the attached case studies to see the results of two firms we have worked with who similarly incorporated these fundamentals.