ACTIONABLE ADVICE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS: Newsletters and Commentaries Focused on Investment Strategy

Letters to the Editor

January 15th, 2013

by Various

The following is in response to Dan Richards’ column,Six Lessons for Advisors from the Mayo Clinic, which appeared last week:

Dear Editor,

I have no qualms with any of Richards’ lessons, which deal with basic principles about delivering quality services no matter the business or profession you are in.

But consider the premise of the article. A man goes to the Mayo Clinic to get a second opinion.

For investors, if not advisors, that’s the key lesson: The man went to get a second opinion. In medicine, there is an understanding of the need for second opinions.

When was the last time you heard a financial advisor tell someone they should consider a second opinion? Yet, there is vastly more uncertainty in finance than in medicine. One is a tricky physical science, to be sure, but the other is a social science with very few clear diagnoses and, by the way, a fair bit of quackery.

You might argue that the analogy is imperfect, that one situation is a matter of real life and death, while the other merely involves the financial health of the patient. No matter; it fits.

The gold standard for an advisor is the willingness to do right by the client no matter what. Yes, that means having a client seek a second opinion in certain situations. What percentage of advisors do you think do that?

Tom Brakke

This letter originally appeared in Tom’s blog.


The following is in response to Dan Richards’ column, How to Turn Acquaintances into Clients, which appeared on December 4:

Dear Editor,

I have yet to see curricula designed to strategically guide the “acquaintance” to the “client.” But that’s precisely what I wanted to learn when reaching out on a project with Dr. Joseph Michelli, a world-renowned expert on client experience and best-selling author of books on Ritz Carlton, Starbucks, and Zappos – Dr. Michelli and I recently coauthored The Book of WOW for financial advisors.

The question we sought to answer in our latest program for advisors on quality client acquisition was straightforward: How do we create the optimal prospect experience? There’s been much ado in the last several years about the ideal client experience, but again, what about that acquaintance’s experience, up to and including the ask for the business?

Clearly, anybody who has ever been in a client-acquisition capacity knows that we have to act appropriately, based on the unique characteristics of the prospect. A WOW experience for one acquaintance is not necessarily a WOW for another. So I would respond to Mr. Richards’ thought-provoking piece on “signaling”: The communications must be individualized and appropriate.

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