July 12, 2019

Is a satisfied customer = A successful advisory?

Girish Ganraj
Co-founder - Finwise PFS

Is a satisfied customer = A successful advisory?


A universal piece of advice that IFAs hear from well-meaning and experienced stalwarts is “add more value to your customer relations, give as much as you can”. So, how does one add more value? There are many ways IFAs do this. Some examples that readily come to mind are:

  • Add more lines of business and expand your product basket so that the customer can get a “one-stop” shop for multiple financial products and services under one roof.
  • Provide customer-level access to a software that allows them to view their portfolios, access multiple reports and on top of their investments with a few clicks
  • Educate and enable customer’s financial emancipation by sharing interesting articles, industry reports, quotes, etc
  • Invest in themselves to build and hone their skills on research and share customized analysis and recommendations with their clients.

These are just a few methods among the many others that IFAs adopt. All of them are useful in adding value to customers. Over the last many years, many IFAs have transformed themselves from being “product-sellers” to “service providers”. The value that IFAs add to customers through these “services” allows them to charge a fee as well. That said, with this plethora of services that IFAs provide to customers, there is a risk that remains relatively unmanaged-that of ensuring continued competence levels in “customer experience” that the IFA provides through his/her services.

 With IFAs opening up multiple such value-addition opportunities with customers, the level of engagement and communication that IFAs have with their clients has gone up dramatically. These “interactions” are across various stages of the customer’s financial journey – eg. prospecting, acquisition, planning, purchase, redemption, review, etc and are delivered across multiple “channels” eg. face-to-face meetings, telephonic talks, e-mails, online platforms (eg. the software or app interface) and even Whatsapp.

These multiple interactions, put together, form the “Customer Experience” that the business provides. And each of these “Moments of Truth” personifies the values and brand characteristics of the IFA’s service business more truly, than any strategy document ever will. The Customer Experience that your business provides, in a way, is the subliminal “glue” that not only decides how well your business is held together but also how indestructible and “competition-proof” it is.

 In today’s day and age where there is a democratization of information, commoditization of core services and every value-added service being sought for free by customers, Customer Experience remains probably the last bastion of differentiation that an IFA can build as a “moat” for his or her business. After all, if you see the list above, every one of them can be copied or replicated, but the “experience” that you provide to your customers. This will always remain unique.

While I called this out as a risk earlier, I also believe this is an opportunity (just as every risk can be). So, what can an IFA do to manage the experience that customers get from his or her business? While Customer Experience is a vast topic (and reams can be written on this!), I outline 3 steps that IFAs should implement, to begin leveraging Customer Experience as a differentiator for their business –

  1. Take responsibility for “delivering experiences” to customers. It starts with a big mindset shift, moving away from being a service aggregator, towards taking responsibility for the customer’s entire journey across utilizing this bouquet of services. This is easier said than done. In a way, it also begins by changing the nomenclature from “Client” to “Customer”.
  2. Define the customer’s key “moments of truth” in your business. Identify the key “Moments of Truth” that your customers encounter through the various journeys they encounter while dealing with the services that your business provides. These Moments of Truth make or break the experience of the customer and determine how satisfied he/she is (or isn’t) with your services.
  3. Transform the customer’s experience that your business delivers. Implement steps to improve the experience across the journey, and facilitate measuring and maintaining it at least above a certain threshold and ideally, at the level that you would aspire your business to provide. Many times, this is not only about “doing things well” but also about “not doing certain things”.

In conclusion, think about this – there is a reason why banks aim to embody trust and credibility. After all, they are in custody of people’s money. At the core, the IFA business is about managing all of the customer’s money and wealth, and therefore, from the customer’s point of view, even more, important than a bank. Hence trust and credibility are also embedded in the core DNA of any good IFA business. And whether you like it or not, the experience that your customers encounter and your business delivers, is a far bigger builder (or eroder) of trust or credibility, than anything else that an IFA can say or do for customers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *