It started with a question during a recent new client interview:
I know I don't have TENS of millions of dollars, but where do I fall on the scale for your firm? I need a lot of help but may not need everything you offer, so how do I fit in?
It was a great question to ask during a first interview and one we continue to ask ourselves. While it is often the easy way out for financial firms to rank clients by asset size, we believe it goes much deeper than that. The families we work with are worth more to us than their balance sheet, so what is it that makes for a great client and an equally great experience?
To answer this question ourselves, we started out by having each of our Partners make a list of our “best” client families. No parameters around what “best” meant, just make a list to see who made their way onto each Partner’s list and discuss why. What we found was this: We each wrote many of the same family names for many of the same reasons.
So let’s get this out of the way now: Assets matter but revenue matters more. Any financial firm that tells you otherwise either doesn’t understand their business or is outright lying to you. Neither of which are where you want to be. Profitability is THE key metric to any business and one we must be conscious of as we continue to grow ours.
We work extremely hard for our clients, delivering value in ways most never anticipated available, with the consistent goal of exceeding expectations. Our best clients encourage our firm and our families to be successful as they know this is only possible by doing great work for them.
So yes, being paid appropriately for our work is a reward we value highly but here’s the truth, it’s not the only thing we value. We have fired large clients and prospects before and I am sure we will again.
Next came the topic of efficiency of working with a family. Do they truly listen to and appreciate our advice? If so, do they take action when prudent or drag their feet in the process?
Here’s another fact, some folks just value advice more than others. Most appreciate your knowledge while others seem to be here to debate. We absolutely encourage clients to analyze, push back and question our recommendations, that’s part of our objective diagnostic process, but some people just want to do things their way, even if the pitfalls are plain as day. Even when an agreement to move forward is made, these are typically the ones who drag their feet in executing the plan and result in lost time and effort for all parties involved. In these cases we are not adding enough value to the client to justify working together. It will eventually come to an end.
On the other end of the scale we have clients who participate in healthy debates, have the ability to make a decision and take action immediately. These relationships result in our ability to execute on opportunities quicker, increase efficiency and save everyone time. The end result is a happier client and a more enjoyable experience for both client and staff. Our best clients value our time as highly as we value theirs.
And finally, advocacy matters. Our best clients recognize what makes us unique and refer their friends or coworkers to join the party. They trust the level of advice and service we provide and ask us to do the same for those they care about most. It is the ultimate sign of approval of the work we do. One million dollar client who continues to introduce his peers to our firm is worth more than any one multi-million dollar client who does not.
So here’s the truth, you may not yet be the deca-millionaire you one day plan to be but that does not mean you don’t deserve that high level of care and attention. Know you are worth more than your balance sheet, regardless of how large or small, and let’s build that relationship the right way together.
Until next time…
Tim Golas, Partner
Spurstone Executive Wealth Solutions