A financial advisor’s take on our First Impressions Report
Author: Jérémy Bourhis
20th January 2021
Jonathan McAlister is a Client Services Associate at Asset Planning Corporation, an independent financial advisory firm founded in 1975. They use Cronofy to deliver automated self-service online scheduling for their clients (which would give them full points in the final section of our report.)
We interviewed him about the findings of our First Impressions report, which you can find in full here.
What are the most important elements of creating a great first impression with potential clients?
The biggest part of a first impression with a potential client is trust. If the client isn’t going to trust you with their money then that’s just going to be a bad relationship down the road. And they’ll fear that you are taking advantage of them or don’t have their best interests at heart.
The way to build trust is transparency. The financial world is very complicated, which is what allows us to exist as a business – but our hope is to educate the client on what they’re investing in, the service they are getting into and the fees associated with that.
Our costs are actually right on our website, so people know exactly what they’ll be paying. The US also has a designation called the certified financial planning license, which is hard to get, so that’s another differentiator we want up there.
No-one likes to be sold to, but they love to buy. That’s really where the best client experience begins.
How do you make it easy for new clients to contact you and easily get to that first call?
We have a form on our website that requests first name, last name, email, and what are you interested in? I think they can put their phone number, but it’s not mandatory.
Right when they fill that out, we email them back directly with a link so they can schedule their own meeting.
The part that I really like about going that way is you know what they’re interested in from the contact form, so you can get directly to what helps them the most as quickly as possible.
What did you think of the research and our findings?
I was surprised at the lack of sophistication in responses and scheduling because you would think that would be one of the most important parts. When you enquire about working together and don’t get a response back, it quickly feels like maybe I’m not valuable to them or worth their time.
What’s interesting is that I can also see some of those scores reflected in how we work — because you always think “well, if I just give them a call and talk to them, that will be the quickest way to get it sorted.”
But in reality, they would rather have finite options presented to them so they can decide what works best.
I think being chased with phone tag or email tag that takes days is a good way to turn them off and make the experience draining.
Covid has increased the amount that people use the internet and online scheduling and I think people will now be much more accustomed to it than they were before the virus.
A lot of businesses in this industry are used to saying “I’ve done it forever this way”, and I think there’s an opportunity to differentiate yourself with the client experience by breaking from that.
Cronofy really does help with that – all they have to do is click a time that works for them, because I’ve already put in their email address and other information. I think that really adds to a memorable and smooth experience.
What are your recommendations to others on how to improve that initial experience?
Speaking from my generation, there will be an expectation for a more streamlined experience. That initial experience has to be made more comparable to signing up for Facebook or Netflix.
There’s a misconception that it’s better just to go for someone that’s about to retire that will be more profitable for your company because they have more money. But I think the more this client experience is streamlined, the more younger people will be interested in doing it sooner. So I think there is tremendous opportunity in that route.
We have a fiduciary obligation to know the client in the best way before we manage their investments – and that means a lot of paperwork for us to learn about them.
It will be transformative if this entire process is done digitally and not by paper anymore.
Date: 20th January 2021 | Category: Finance