Transparency Can Open the Door to Trust

Jul 24, 2018

transparency

I recently had the opportunity to spend the day with nearly 40 advisors from across the country discussing their clients’ experiences. Throughout the day I think I heard the word “transparency” at least fifty times.  All of the mentions were tactical: the client wants transparency in this meeting, or with a specific report, or into this type of investment. I get the feeling that these clients don’t fully trust their advisor, I think because they didn’t fully understand the process. There are two levels of transparency, and when both exist you have the ability to gain trust. Level 1 sets expectations by explaining the process; where it begins and where it ends. Level 2 communicates status, which is where you are in the process.

What can we learn from the shipping industry?

Major shipping companies have set the transparency bar high through comprehensive package tracking. When I ship a package I know the process. I am presented with a tracking number and an estimated date of arrival. Throughout the process I know my status such as when the package has been shipped, each stop it makes, and what time it arrives and leaves each stop. Sometimes I even know the name of the person delivering the package. I completely trust the company responsible for delivering my package. Before this technology existed a package was in a black hole between its original location and its destination. As a sender, the only way you knew it arrived was if you got a phone call or a thank you note from the recipient. Any black hole leaves a lot of room for disappointment and eventually can lead to mistrust. The introduction of the tracking closed that hole.

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An advisor’s transparency process

At the event an advisor outlined the process they use with their clients, which addresses both levels of transparency. This process is simple to implement. You just need a whiteboard and some sticky notes.

First, the cyclical process is represented, which helps drive home that it’s continuous. Next to that is a simple chart of people and steps involved in the process.

Transparency Process

This is used in every client meeting, which gives the client a full view of the process, where they are and where everyone else is. They detail the activities and expectations of each person. There is clarity as to what is happening or not happening with their investment portfolio or financial plan. It drives home that the advisor and his/her team are there working for the client. Additionally, it gives the client the opportunity to formulate and ask informed questions about their plan or situation. Most importantly, the transparency can build and solidify trust in the advisor because – just like package tracking – this communicates the entire process and the status.

Transparency is essential for a good client experience

Transparency provides the opportunity to build deep trust between you and your client. It can alleviate anxiety because it eliminates the need for them to worry or wonder. Think of transparency as another service you can offer. Our industry is intimidating to many and as an advisor you are their ambassador. Pulling back the proverbial curtain can help you set expectations, reduce questions and build trust.

I am interested in how you provide transparency to your client. Do you have a transparent process? Do you use any digital tools to help create transparency?

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