The need for advisers to need to connect with their clients is more important than ever as trust in financial experts reaches a record low, according to a consultant.
Brad Eisenhuth, CEO of The Outperformer, a performance consultancy for accounting and finance professionals, said the growing dissatisfaction is likely attributed to financial experts offering the same old information to clients without providing them with specialised guidance on how to implement such advice.
“Historically, financial or accounting professionals have weighted their capability on the fact that they have information accurately prepared for their clients that they're working for. That’s, now, basically a given. People are now seeking their advisers to really understand them – their problems and what they’re trying to achieve. I feel that that in some cases, there’s one old idea of, ‘We’re there to support you and we’re there to help you,’ but, in fact, what clients are being given is a report or a piece of information and not a personalised experience,” he said.
Although admitting that his experience is predominantly in working with SMEs and larger corporates, Mr Eisenhuth said such behaviour is often mirrored in everyday investors. He concedes that both groups are driven by a desire to find finance professionals that understand their goals and actively assist them to get there, rather than simply present financial data.
“There’s a lot of parallels between corporates and individuals. At the end of the day, they’re human beings and they behave the same way it’s just a different level of conversation,” he said.
“We’ve all got iPhones. We’ve got all the information in the world at our fingertips, what we’re looking for is to decipher the information and move forward towards understanding, ‘What does that mean for me personally? How am I going to use that?’ I don’t want to be sold something I can Google.”
His assertions concur with the findings of his company’s recent Finance Business Partnership 2018 Insights Report, which found that 58 per cent of non-finance leaders look for the ability to problem solve in their financial partner, over just 8 per cent that focus on reliability and accuracy.
Such concerns are reflected among general consumers, as the release of Investment Trends’ 2018 Financial Advice Report yesterday highlighted. The report found more than 40 per cent of Australians do not believe the financial services and banking industries are meeting their obligations to everyday Aussies.
Mr Eisenhuth said that although it is clear that finance professionals need to focus more on getting to the heart of clients’ problems, it is also important for individuals to be open and honest about their financial situation.
“Help the finance professional to understand what your needs and challenges are, and allow them to feel comfortable to ask the right questions to learn about your situation,” he recommended.
“Be as vulnerable and open as possible, in terms of what it is going to take for you to achieve what you’re trying to achieve. In order for the financial or accounting support person to fulfil their role as a coach and consultant and design a solution or support structure that is actually delivered on, they need to understand your problems in a meaningful way.”
He feared that should the trust levels between clients and their financial experts not improve, Australians will attempt to reach their financial goals on their own and may suffer financially.
“People try to do it themselves and they find work arounds. They find ways to get to that outcome without the financial advice, and sometimes they’ll make significant mistakes, but because the pain of dealing with the financial support is harder than actually going it alone. They’ll actually go it alone, and while some people will do that very effectively, many won’t be so successful,” he concluded.
“The real concern here is that as the trust reduces, financial advice is devalued.”
Adrian Flores is a deputy editor at Momentum Media, focusing mainly on banking, wealth management and financial services. He has also written for Public Accountant, Accountants Daily and The CEO Magazine.
You can contact him on [email protected].
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