My Personal (and Personalized!) Client Experience

Apr 30, 2019

There are many definitions of client experience, but the only ones that matter are each of your client’s definitions. I say each because it is a personal definition – which is why personalization is so important.

John Anderson and I talk about personalization in our latest white paper, Your High Net Worth Strategy: It’s What They Want, Not What You Know.  And while I am constantly reviewing different strategies and technologies that claim to help personalize the client experience, many advisors are creating a very personalized experience for their clients without them. I’m proof of that, and I’d like to share my story.

How it started

My husband Brett and I are doing a lot discretionary spending right now. Many of our friends and family are getting married within 3 months of each other, so we are traveling a lot, buying gifts, and planning bridal showers and bachelorette parties- all while trying to stick to a college savings plan for my son and do home improvements. This is our version of money in motion, and it was the impetus to admitting to ourselves that we needed more financial help.

So we connected with an advisor, paid an upfront fee and committed to three meetings. Two meetings were focused on getting to know us using the Kinder Institute of Life Planning process (the third will be the presentation of our plan).

Meeting 1: What we want to know and how to provide it

There were 2 agenda items in this meeting that I felt were the most important in helping our advisor get to know Brett and me.

1. Communication preferences. This went beyond if we preferred phone calls to emails. We talked about the *way* we like to see information:

  • Do we like all the details or the bottom line?
  • Do we need time to process recommendations?
  • Do we like graphics or charts?
  • Do we want options to choose from, or just the recommended approach?

What I loved about this is that, while Brett and I have similarities, there were differences: I like the bottom line; he wants the details. Our answers were documented on our “client prep sheet” and they will use it to prepare for our meetings, so they craft the best presentation. So not only is the advice in the plan personalized, but the delivery is personalized, too.

2. Answering 3 questions that really made us think about who we are and what we want to be, both financially and as people.

  • You are financially secure. You have enough money to take care of your needs now and in the future. How would you change your life?
  • If you were to die tomorrow, what would you regret not doing?
  • You have 5 -10 years to live. You will never feel sick, but you don’t know the day you will die. What will you do in the remaining time you have to live?

These were tough questions, but it drew out what really mattered to each of us individually and as a family.

At the end of the meeting, we were presented with an exercise called “Hearts Core,” which we were asked to complete before our next meeting.

Meeting 2: Getting to the heart of all matters

We talked through our answers to the Hearts Core exercise, which we had sent back prior to this meeting, so our advisor had a chance to review it. The exercise helped us prioritize our goals (discovered in the first meeting) by placing them into 3 columns: 

  1. Hearts Core –  the goals that are closest to our hearts
  2. Ought to – items we felt a responsibility to do
  3. Fun to – those goals that didn’t fall into the first 2 categories

We gave more detail as to why we placed a goal in a specific column. Unbeknownst to us, our advisor was framing (in real time) our “torch statement,” based on the answers we provided in our first meeting and in the Hearts Core exercise. A successful troch statement illustrates the clients dream life.  Brett and I each have our own torch statement, and these statements will be in the center of our plan as a constant reminder of what we are working towards. At the end of the meeting, he presented my torch statement by saying the below:

If as a consequence of our work together, we were to deliver a life plan where you are present for the big life moments of your family and friends, all while having a great career, being a fantastic mom and wife; your children are provided a great education and wonderful family experiences like getting away to the family’s special place; and you are able to give back and see the impact of supporting your alma matre and the medical research that is important to you, how would that feel?”

I love the statement – it proved to us that our advisor knows us individually. He hasn’t presented a single piece of advice yet, but I trust at our next meeting when he does present our plan, it is going to be specific to us. This is one of the most personalized experiences I have had – and not a single piece of fancy technology was used. It was just a complete focus on Brett and me.

Personal = human

When you take the time to determine the best way to interact with your clients on a human level, you create connections that are stronger than any technological innovation you could adopt. And profoundly personal experiences are not soon forgotten – those meaningful connections may translate into lifelong clients.



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