Kinder Institute of Life Planning founder George Kinder on the about-face financial services needs to take to improve the experience for the most important person of all - the client.
The thing that has had its day is making "financial" more important than "service".
It's basically the notion that "products" are still more important than the "customer" or that the "advisers ideas" are more important than the "client's concerns", or it's the "financial company, the brand" that's more important than the "consumer".
This is an issue from the top down. I've been with many a CEO who thinks they're the most important person in the room.
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If that's leadership, then that's what their advisors are going to model.
When the client comes in, it's the adviser who's the most important person in the room. No wonder no one trusts the "financial services" industry.
"Financial" comes first, we think, numbers come first, profits come first, then the senior management, then the advisers. Won't work. Doesn't work.
What works is putting the clients first around everything. Fees, costs, the first phone call, products, meetings.
Let's give real 'service' to the client. Let's put that first of all. And it's not just about getting them a cappuccino or playing a round of golf.
It's certainly not about designing a structured product riddled with fees "perfect" for the client's "stage of life."
It's not spreadsheets. It's just the client. Learning to listen to them and have a client conversation that the client experiences as one of the best conversations of their life.
A financial planners office should deliver an experience that the client wants to return to again and again, an inspiring experience, a moving experience, one that they crow to all their colleagues and friends about.
An experience that is all about them. That's it. Once you've connected that deeply with the client, the whole financial architecture comes into place.
Without that conversation, the adviser doesn't have a clue what the client really wants.
It's only at that point that you can deliver "financial" services. And even there, what passes for "service" must be genuinely in the client's interest, not in the advisers, not in his company's or the clients will feel betrayed and not want to come back.
We're talking about the firm of the future here. The firm that brings trust and genuine service back to the financial industry. Of course we call this kind of service, life planning, and it's happening already in one IFA firm after another all over the UK.
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