Naturally I was very happy that The Fry Group was voted #5 in FTAdviser’s recent Top 100 Financial Advisers rankings. This year the results are based on a new methodology that produces a more useful measure of firms’ ability to provide advice to their clients than the old sales-based approach – I agree with FTAdviser: “the quality of a business isn’t reflected just by how big it is in terms of number of advisers and therefore how much new cash it is bringing in.”
But it’s in the client survey that accompanies the ranking that I really found cause for celebration. Based on detailed results from close to 400 people, the survey findings are summed up in ‘three Ts’: Transparency, Tailored advice, and Trust.
The quality customers value most in a financial adviser is transparency – especially on fees. The majority want to know up-front what they’re paying for their advice, so they prefer fees to be fixed rather than based on a percentage of portfolio performance. They also want their adviser to be clear about whether guidance is truly independent rather than the adviser choosing from a limited family of products.
The second ‘T’, tailored advice, is closely related to transparency: clients want their relationship with their adviser to be personal, with the adviser listening to their concerns and requests rather than applying a generic approach. They want advice couched in simple terms without too much jargon. And they want advice that addresses their specific situation, rather than being subjected to a hard sell for products they don’t want. They are clear about where they want to focus: tax planning, inheritance tax and pensions assistance.
Respondents also demonstrated that if their adviser delivers transparency and tailored advice, they will respond with a high level of loyalty, reflecting the trust they have in their adviser. And it’s telling that most found their current adviser through personal recommendations from friends or family – showing that trust breeds trust.
It’s really great to be highly ranked against some very strong competition, but I see these qualitative survey results as much more meaningful. The Fry Group has 120 years’ track record of delivering advice to expats – and our experience chimes very closely with what the FT’s survey subjects are saying. We take great care to recruit the most highly-qualified and experienced advisers because we believe this adds up to high-quality independent advice; we recommend pensions and savings products entirely on merit, and our fees are disclosed clearly ahead of any investment decisions. We’re similarly open about ongoing service fees and one-off charges. We have long advocated transparency in client interactions; our advisers who work with intelligence and professionalism to create trusted, long-term client relationships.
It’s not a coincidence that we’ve won a series of industry awards based on this approach – and the survey results show that it’s not just the industry who rate the approach we’ve developed. It’s as if we’ve been unconsciously adhering to the three Ts all this time!