Do You Really Know What Your Clients Want?

Do you really know what your clients want?

A classic mistake that professionals tend to repeat is assuming that their clients all want the same thing, which coincidentally is the very thing that the professional specialises in.  There are usually 2 things wrong with this assumption:

  1. Clients are not all the same at all…even when they appear to be.

  2. Clients don’t tend to want our technical knowledge – they want a different outcome in their lives.

The following is a fabulous summary of some research which highlighted the differences in priorities for investment clients.  It is from a couple of years ago, but that doesn’t matter as it is an excellent illustration of the key point here.  It covers a range of demographic age groups, and a variety of needs and wants, and highlights that while there are many many things a financial planner or investment advisers might be able to do for a client in any given demographic, there is a fairly broad selection of “client wants”.

While this research was focussed upon investment clients, I believe that the results will be similar in most other advice lines.  Accountants will have a similar spread in terms of the differing outcomes or priorities that are expected by different demographics and client segments.  So too would insurance brokers or lawyers.

Of particular interest to me though in this example is the relatively minor proportion of clients who want what most investment advisers have traditionally  offered as a point of difference: improving investment returns.  Only 24% cited that as a priority, meaning that for three quarters of the clients investment returns were not a high priority.  That demolishes the value proposition of a number of advisers for a large number of clients, doesn’t it?

This simply highlights the importance of spending time getting to understand what actually really matters to clients, and to avoid making the mistake of presuming that what we think we are good at is what matters to them.

Related: What on Earth Do Consumers Think Financial Planners Actually Do?