During August/September 2016, 184 of our wealth management clients were invited to take part in a Client Experience Survey by the Beddoes Institute, an independent research firm. These clients comprised those whose primary financial adviser is either Jason Petersen or James Sheehan.
Of the 184 contacted, 95 people took part – a fantastic 51.6 % response rate. This is especially pleasing considering that Beddoes regards 20-30% as a good response.
We are tremendously grateful to our clients for taking time out of their busy lives to provide us with feedback. The survey covered a broad range of issues and we know it was not a quick process!
Overall, we are delighted with the comments and scores we received. We are keenly aware of the central role our advice and services play in our clients’ lives and we always strive to deliver the very best we can. It was fantastic therefore to see that in the vast majority of cases, our clients are feeling more financially clear and confident as a result of working with us.
Among the ‘best of the best’
In its preamble, Beddoes commented that firms that choose to be surveyed are typically those that are at the ‘high achieving’ end of the spectrum. In short, this means we are comparing ourselves with the ‘best of the best’.
This makes it particularly satisfying to learn that our survey scores for Key Performance Indicators puts us in the league of top 20% of all firms they’ve surveyed – making us a ‘High Performing Practice’.
Our scores (marked out of ten) for each Key Performance Indicator were:
• Overall Practice Satisfaction: 8.2
• Strength of Relationship 8.6
• Perceived Value 7.9
• On Track 8.0
• Improved Financial Situation 8.3
• Practice Adviser Trust! Score ™ (ATS) 92 (marked out of 100)
Breaking these down, areas we performed well in included:
• Satisfaction with, and performance of adviser (including the adviser’s technical expertise, accessibility, willingness to tell the ‘hard truth’, unbiased advice, and their ability to instil trust, uncover goals and articulate value).
• Satisfaction with, and performance of service (including our range of services, helpfulness of support staff, reliability, response times and customer focus).
• Review meetings (including changing the plan as needed, reviewing the client’s situation and progress, and length and frequency of meetings).
• Ongoing management (including quality of general administration).
• Fee arrangements (including charging appropriately, flexible service package options, transparent fee communication and treating your money well).
Comments we received
Perhaps more telling was the way our clients have described us. Here’s a small sample of the comments we received when the client was asked why they gave us the score they did:
• 5 Financial do what they say they’re going to do. They give good advice, follow through on everything and let us know of any new strategies they might think will suit us.
• 5 Financial are managing my finances in a way that is very much in line with my goals.
• I have found 5 Financial to be thorough and professional in their approach. They tend to take a more strategic approach than the general run of the mill financial services company, with a focus on the bigger picture.
• Jason takes the worry out of my financial planning. I have a wonderful balance. I don’t need to worry about my finances. I now understand where my money is, what it is doing and I have plenty of money for my future. Jason takes all the worry out of my financial planning and I can go travelling.
• I ask some basic and complicated questions and I’ve never once felt like an idiot for doing so. They are so friendly, very responsive and very helpful with everything I need.
• Given good advice, been open and available for discussions and help with decisions. Treat us as people not a number.
• Because of their attention to detail, contacting us with information. James is a lovely guy who takes an interest in us as people not just a number or any client. He makes me feel that I can trust him. Always pleasant and respectful. Plus the coffee and biscuits and chocolates are a big hit if you’re not on a diet.
• Jason in particular has always focused on reducing our costs but not our exposure to risk or quality. He is supported by a great team.
• They exceeded all expectations.
• Everything is managed for me and I am able to trust that my finances will be managed to optimise my future, including retirement.
Where we can improve
While it’s always good to hear the positive comments, we are just as appreciative of the comments we received about how we can improve.
These were in the areas of:
• Speed of implementation
• More frequent communication
• Faster response times for our tax service
• Communication of value
What we are doing in response
To be frank, these were aspects of our business that we knew needed more focus. As a result, in 2016 we’ve devoted considerable time and resources towards them.
We expect it will take at least a year for all clients to experience the changes we are implementing. We are confident, however, that by early 2017, we will have made significant inroads into each area noted for improvement.
Here are details of actions we’ve taken in 2016:
Speed of implementation
To speed up implementation of our clients’ strategies, we created a dedicated Implementation Team. This includes an Implementation Manager, along with specialist implementation staff in Finance, Insurance, Investment and Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) administration.
We also now hold a full team ‘check-in’ three times a week. This allows us to map out each team member’s priorities for the coming days, to ensure tasks that are most urgent are attended to, including implementation.
Another important change we’ve made was to introduce a new client management technology platform. We chose this system (after considerable research) for its ability to create, track and manage tasks with greater consistency and efficiency, as well as a range of other valuable capabilities.
More frequent communication
This year we reassigned the responsibilities allocated to several key support staff, creating three ‘project manager’ style roles, called Client Service Managers (CSM).
Each client has a dedicated CSM who is a ‘first point of contact’ with our practice. The CSMs are also responsible for keeping clients up-to-date with any information that’s important to them.
The new client management platform we are using will also make it easier for us to communicate information that’s relevant and interesting for our clients.
We will also reinforce with clients that they are welcome to phone or email their adviser as often as they wish throughout the year. And if a client has significant changes to deal with, they are encouraged to meet with their adviser during the year. Examples of ‘significant changes’ include questions about selling or buying a major asset, redundancy or a new employment opportunity, or if there’s a change in health or relationship status – in short, anything that materially impacts a client’s financial situation. Of course these types of meetings are in addition to the Annual Review Meeting that’s part of our regular service.
Faster response times for our tax service
We have employed additional staff to assist in our tax service. This is an area we will continue to focus on, including adding more members to this team.
Turnaround times have improved considerably in 2016 as a result of the changes made to date. We are confident this trend will continue.
Communication of value
Several months ago we introduced a Value of Advice summary that quantifies the benefits each client has derived (or for brand new clients, will derive) directly as a result of our advice. This is quite an innovation in the industry.
Our intention is to deliver benefits that are at least twice the value of the fees paid by the client. To date, we have been able to demonstrate this in all cases, and quite often the value derived is 3, 4 or sometimes 5 times higher than fees paid.
The Value of Advice is presented to each client when we go through our initial recommendations with them, and also at each Annual Review Meeting. This helps our clients to understand what it is their fees pay for, including the huge variety of tasks that are completed ‘behind the scenes’ on their behalf.
Related to this has been our continued research into new investment vehicles that support our philosophy of offering low-cost, tax efficient, well-diversified investments to our clients. We are always on the lookout for ways to leverage the performance of our clients’ investments by minimising administrative costs and taxes. This approach helps to maximise the amount of capital each client has working for them, which can create considerable value – especially over the long term.
5 Financial is a boutique-style financial advisory practice that strives to offer each client a world-class experience.
We are delighted to learn through this survey that in the majority of areas, we are hitting the mark. But as you can see in the changes we’ve implemented prior to the survey results coming out, we are not complacent!
We know there will be more improvements to come, and we are excited for what the future holds.
Having a great relationship with a quality financial advisory firm makes a huge and positive difference in your life – and this is what we want to offer you. (And if you are not currently a client and you’d like to know more, please do make contact with me.)
Thank you once again to everyone who took part in our survey. Please know we always welcome your feedback and you can do so by emailing or phoning me on 02 9739 6555.
Founder & Principal