Money Talks

Clients want more than numbers from their advisers.

A recent study by the Financial Planning Association confirms that adviser communication is significantly important to client trust and retention. That does not just mean spouting off technical talk, but also knowing and relating to clients.

In “Research: Communication Issues in Life Planning,” authors Anderson and Sharpe surveyed FPA members and their clients. According to the study, clients who strongly agreed with the statement “I feel that my financial planner really tries to understand what I want in the financial planner-client relationship” were:

  • more likely to strongly agree that they have no interest in transferring to a different planner;
  • more likely to indicate that they were very satisfied with the relationship they have with their financial planners;
  • more likely to strongly agree that they frequently recommend their financial planners to others.

The authors found that weaving qualitative and quantitative discussions together is most effective in financial planning conversations. “Client communication that is focused solely on collecting financial data or on delivering financial advice is no longer enough to sustain a competitive advantage,” the report says.

The study concludes that empathetic planners are valued by clients, who appreciate advisers who make an effort to truly know them and their financial lives. In fact, the study recommends more advisers seek out classes to help interpersonal skills—which aren’t taught in financial planning courses.

Information on purchasing “Research: Communication Issues in Life Planning” is available at