Can you meet the expectations of wealthy clients?

As Financial Planners and Brokers strive to increase the funds under management for which they are providing advice, High New Worth (HNW) individuals are an attractive market segment. If you have a compelling proposition for this segment of the market, you only need a small number of clients to make your proposition stack up financially.

With deposit rates now so unattractive, these individuals are now looking for better alternatives for their money. And this of course is where you come in…

Here are a few thoughts on some of the characteristics of HNW clients, what they look for and some thoughts on engaging successfully with them.


The characteristics of HNW clients

There’s no absolute definition of what constitutes a HNW person but it is usually someone with more than €500,000 in investible assets. These will usually be held in a mix of pension funds, shares, property investments and some cash too. While this group recognise that they have well-above average wealth, they usually identify a recurring number of financial challenges:

  • They know money doesn’t last forever: They are financially literate and recognise that they have significant assets, but at the same time are tuned into how quickly these assets can dwindle away if not managed properly. This is particularly important for HNW people with limited future earning capacity.
  • Educating their children is a recognised challenge: More often than not, HNW people tend to be well educated, usually to 3rd level. As a result, they place a lot of store on education and want the same for their children.  Many will desire a private school education for their children (at least in secondary school) followed by a minimum of an undergraduate degree. With doubts about college fees in the future, many now recognise the need to plan for education fees for each child for a minimum of 10 years. A not inconsiderable sum.
  • They worry about running out of money: This is probably their biggest financial concern. They want to maintain their lifestyle right to the end of their lives without a worry about running out of money. They want to work with someone who can design and implement a robust financial plan that will guard against this happening.
  • They want a legacy: In fact they may have multiple wishes in this regard. They of course wish to leave their family secure. However wealthy individuals often also want to “give back” to society and leave their mark through supporting a charity or a cause that is close to them.

What do HNW clients want?

There are a few characteristics that HNW clients will look for in a Financial Broker. These include factors such as:

  • High integrity: They must feel that they can absolutely trust you. This must be earned and corroborated by what other people say about you. A message on your website saying that you have high integrity won’t achieve this.
  • Expertise: These people will usually look for the services of an investment specialist. They will recognise that the management of their assets is the biggest financial challenge they have, and will want to employ the services of an expert in this regard.
  • Education: They value their own education. They will expect you to have invested in bettering yourself and be suitably educated.
  • Bespoke approach: HNW clients will expect (and be willing to pay for) a highly individualised approach to their affairs. That’s not to say that you ignore your otherwise robust approach and process. Instead, they will expect a lot of time being spent designing a plan for them – any sense that you are lifting a solution off the shelf will be the end of the road with them.


How does a Financial Broker engage HNW clients?

For Financial Brokers to succeed in this important market segment, the following are worth considering as critical success factors:

  • Build trust: Spend time at the outset gaining their trust. Have client references that they will value, focus on testimonials, and show case studies of approaches you’ve used in the past to develop innovative solutions for other HNW clients. Show them how your business proposition places them at the core of how you advise.
  • Be transparent: HNW individuals will expect full transparency from you in relation to all areas of their dealings with you. If they feel you are not being 100% open with them, they will quickly lose trust in you and will go elsewhere for advice. They will welcome the “hard” conversations – challenges they need to face up to, discussions about your fees etc.
  • Concentrate on financial planning: Create clear separation of the financial plan from the product sales piece. Spend time clarifying their financial objectives and structure the plan clearly around these. The products will simply follow the plan.
  • Look to build a long-term proposition: Focus your proposition around activities that keep the financial affairs of the HNW individual under on-going review. Future cashflow planning is a very valued activity by HNW clients, and one that gives the Financial Broker a compelling reason for on-going review meetings.
  • Recognise their concerns and address them: One of their big concerns is outliving their assets in retirement. Show them what this means in terms of the war chest they need to accumulate. Build into this picture their other concerns of funding education and leaving a legacy.
  • Be expert: Take every opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, both at meetings and through on-going communications. If there are highly technical areas in which you are not an expert, develop your own trusted network of experts that you can seamlessly tap into for specialist advice, to ensure you are the conduit for your client gaining a holistic and expert solution.
  • Add value: Provide added value when they don’t expect it. If you see an article that would be of interest to them, send it to them. They will appreciate your on-going and continuing interest in their affairs.

Do all of this and you’ve a great chance of succeeding with this valuable group of people.

Are YOU getting the best from your sales team?

The New Year is well underway, the economic backdrop continues to improve and there’s a general uplift and sense of positivity throughout the financial services industry. A rising tide lifts all boats? Well hopefully… but no one wants to sit around and just wait for this to happen!

A number of the firms that I deal with have advice teams, and some of them are wondering if they’ve got the right players “on the pitch”. While this is of course a valid question, it’s also really important to consider if you yourself are doing everything that you can do to get the best out of your team. Here are 8 thoughts on how you can drive up your team’s performance through better management skills and techniques.

Have a clear strategy

Have a clear strategy that your sales team can engage with and get behind. Ensure that they understand that their role is actually a lot bigger than simply hitting this year’s number. Your strategy should be a clear call to action and get the whole team pulling in the same direction. It’s your job to develop this strategy and then communicate it effectively to your team.

Build a team, not a group of talented individuals

Consider the job Paul McGinley did in bringing together a group of extremely talented individuals, and over the space of a week how he created a team who were willing to do anything to ensure the overall objective was achieved. Of course they went on to a famous victory in the Ryder Cup.

Great teams collaborate, they support each other in difficult times, and they share experiences and help each other. But they don’t happen by chance. Have you created the environment for everyone to work together as an effective team?

Lead from the front

To lead your sales team effectively, you need to stay in touch with life on the ground. Unless you have a crystal clear picture yourself of the current market, are identifying customers’ issues “from the horse’s mouth and seeing the actual roadblocks and challenges that your sales team are facing, it is very hard for you to guide them effectively. It’s also going to be very hard to win your team’s confidence, if they perceive you as leading from an ivory tower.

Set clear expectations

Sales people in general want clarity. They hate vagueness. They want clear goals and targets and want to understand exactly the rewards for achieving their goals, and the consequences of not doing so! It’s up to you to put the work in to provide this clarity so that the sales team are 100% confident of the consequences of achieving the required outcomes being demanded of them.

Develop clear processes for your team

You don’t want to put a straightjacket on your sales team and you certainly don’t want to diminish their individual styles. However you can’t have a team of mavericks, operating simply as they see fit. A balance has to be achieved and clear processes are the key to this. Putting these in place sets the operational bar at a level that you can insist upon, while allowing the flexibility for individuals to apply their individual styles.

Play to the strengths of the team

Again sounds obvious but it is amazing how many sales teams are set up with a “one size fits all model”, where everyone effectively has the same objectives. However this is not going to allow you to get the best from your team. Some may be better at networking and introducing new clients to the business, others may be better at leveraging relationships with accountants and solicitors. Some may be great rainmakers, while others might be much better financial planners and better at building long term relationships with clients.

Yes you’ll have to be inventive with your remuneration structures, but playing to the strengths of the team will help the team as a whole. Would you play Jonny Sexton in the second row?

Support the team internally

Particularly when times are tough, the life of a sales person is a difficult one, filled with pressure and they are often wrongly perceived as the reason for the difficult times in an organisation. When this is the case and there is internal moaning and grumbling, they really need your support. They need to see that you as the leader are 100% behind them, and that they have your faith. Show this faith by supporting them throughout the organisation and by ensuring the internal team remain 100% committed to helping them.

Manage performance relentlessly

This is the most important one. Never lose sight of how individuals are performing and continuously develop the performance of all team members. Don’t let poor performers just drift along as this will damage the team as a whole and will also undermine your own credibility. At the same time, recognise your team’s successes and celebrate them – they are usually very hard won.

These are just a few thoughts on some areas in which you can help your team reach their potential. Are there other areas that you consider are really important to getting the best from your team?