2019 Research: What do they really think about financial planners

This month the Australian Securities and Investment Commission released Report 627 ‘Financial Advice: What consumers really think.’ It’s a consumer research report and it’s worth a read.

I’m a great advocate for marketing research, but realise many financial planners don’t have the time or perhaps the inclination or expertise to do their own. So third party reports like these are valuable. The research is based upon 4 x 90-minute group discussions (7-8 participants per group), 34 individual in depth interviews and an online survey completed by 2,545 participants. If you’d like to read the full report click here to download the pdf.

Here’s one of the highlights that caught my attention

With everything that’s going in the industry including a royal commission, regulatory change and greater educational requirements, how do consumers assess Australian financial planners?

Perceived expertise:
• Personal recommendations
• Time in the industry
• Age and life stage
• Independence (separate to a bank)
• Specialisations
• Signs of financial success

Interpersonal skills:
• Presentation and demeanour
• Understanding the customer
• Communication skills
• Signs of honesty and integrity

The organisation:
• Reputation
• Size and longevity
• Nature of the business
• Collective expertise of financial advisers
• Signs of professionalism    (ASIC 2019, pp.26-29)

The biggest takeout for me

Despite the increasing education and professional requirements of the financial planning sector, the biggest challenge in front of advisers isn’t that consumers are seeking more technical skills. It’s actually about creating a client centric business that puts them first. It’s an idea that’s beyond safe harbour compliance requirements. It’s about an advice experience that surrounds them, exclusively for the benefit of them that inspires trust and confidence at every point. So let me ask you this: What are you doing and saying in your business to check these boxes?

Good financial planning marketing, like good financial advice, doesn’t happen by accident. You’ve got to get clarity on the goals you’re trying to achieve and then put in place sound strategies to meet those goals. My mantra is that that service marketing delivers when great communication meets great service design. It’s not enough to have a complaint process or even great process that works every time. You’ve also got to spend some time on developing your personal and organisation communications to create the trust and confidence that clients are clearly seeking at every stage of the advice journey.

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