Regularly collecting feedback from clients can save advisors both time and money, help resolve problems before they get out of hand, save time, and improve client service. Yet most advisors avoid the client feedback exercise for years on end. No one likes getting negative feedback, but taking the time to solicit opinions from clients can help a firm do more of what works and improve the services they offer. Financial advisor questionnaires for clients are a good way to improve your business.

We recommend that advisors collect client feedback once per year, at the very least. Following tax time, when the schedule has calmed down, may be a perfect time. There are a few mechanisms for getting feedback. The gold standard for both qualitative and quantitative feedback for financial advisors is a client advisory board. An easier and often more palatable option is a client survey. We’ll review both types below.

1. Client Advisory Boards

These focus groups meet at a regular cadence, ideally quarterly, to discuss what is going right and what could be improved in the firm. Each client advisory board should consist of clients who are most representative of the ideal client you’re trying to get more of. It’s best practice not to invite spouses to serve on the same board during the same year since they likely share similar experiences. Typical meetings last anywhere from one hour to a full day.

Most advisors’ first objection to creating a client advisory board is that they feel uncomfortable asking so much of their clients. This is a valid concern. However, we find that folks enjoy having their opinion asked and are happy to contribute to help the firm serve them better. And because many clients are retired from professions where their input was valued, many miss the opportunity to contribute their insight during retirement.

Advisors shouldn’t be shy about asking clients to volunteer on their advisory boards. At best, they’re providing feedback that will allow the advisor to tailor their service to the client’s needs in the future; at worst, they’ll likely get a free lunch.

We suggest hosting the first meeting of the client advisory board over lunch at a local country club or the private room of a restaurant. A 60- to 90-minute discussion over lunch provides plenty of actionable feedback. The advisor should be sure to record audio from the session or have an assistant take diligent notes.

Key discussion points to include are:

  • Would you recommend our firm to a friend? Why or why not?
  • Do we meet your expectations?
  • Do we return phone calls and emails on time?
  • What is the most valuable thing we bring to the table?
  • Which client events do you enjoy the most?

Advisors should be ready to address any concerns or problems that come up and take the time to follow up with a plan for how they will implement the feedback to improve their practice.

2. Financial Advisor Client Surveys

If advisors aren’t ready to face a group of clients dissecting their firm’s service over lunch, there is a less overwhelming option. To get started incorporating client feedback into practice, we recommend advisors begin with an annual client survey. Surveys have some advantages over advisory boards, such as being less expensive and confidential, so they are more likely to receive open and honest opinions. The format also allows questions to pertain to the financial needs and goals of clients, which could be less comfortable within a group setting.

At FMG Suite, we are big fans of the tool SurveyMonkey, which allows advisors to create surveys with up to 10 questions and get up to 100 responses for free. It’s easy to build a financial advisor client survey and share the link by email and social media.

Helpful financial advisor survey questions to include are:

  • How would you rate the overall service you receive from our firm?
  • Is the frequency of our portfolio review meetings adequate?
  • What are your most pressing financial concerns?
  • What can we do to better serve you and your family?

Each of your questions should prompt client feedback that improves your value to your clients. If you don’t ask the right questions, you’re wasting both your and your client’s time. 

Client surveys for financial advisors should include open-ended questions to entice clients to respond freely. When you build a survey packed with only multiple-choice questions, your assumptions may bias your questions and restrict your clients’ responses. The best financial advisor questions to ask clients are the ones that help you serve your clients better. 

Once the survey is over, we recommend compiling the data and sharing the results and the changes they plan to make with clients. This type of transparency inspires clients to help a firm improve and often increases referrals over the long run since clients feel like they’re a part of the firm’s success.

3. Feedback Buttons

A modern financial advisor website is the perfect place to solicit feedback, but you don’t have to limit your efforts to surveys. Feedback buttons give your clients a soundboard 24/7. These feedback forms are convenient, easy to use, and don’t interfere with your website visitor’s experience, so they are more likely to appeal to clients than other feedback tools. 

Keep in mind that these feedback forms are not lead generation or marketing tools. Don’t request information you don’t need. Typical data you need for marketing, like industry, position, age, etc., are not relevant here — getting honest feedback is your only goal.

Think of feedback buttons as a way for your website visitors to provide big-picture feedback. When your visitors click on a feedback button, they should find ways to provide specific and generic feedback. It’s also a good idea to include a link to client support for convenience. 

These feedback tools provide more than just insights for improving your financial services and products — they also help your site visitors have a better user experience. Even with the most engaging content, a website that is difficult to navigate will leave clients with a bad taste. 

Most clients who find your financial website hard to use won’t contact support; they’ll just move on to the next financial advisor’s website. Make it easy for your clients to tell you about their engagement on your website, and you’ll discover plenty of ways to make the user experience better. 

To collect a broad spectrum of feedback, include questions like:

  • How did you hear about our financial services website?
  • What were you looking for on our website?
  • Were you able to find information easily?
  • Did you find the information on our website or webpage useful? How so?
  • Would you consider our website a comprehensive resource for your financial needs?
  • How can we make our website easier to use?

You can change the questions easily to capture feedback for a specific product, a particular webpage, or your customer service. Feedback buttons give you the power to create a customized questionnaire that lets your clients help shape a better experience with your brand. 

What Questions Should Financial Advisors Ask Their Clients?

Asking the right questions is important to ensure that your feedback is as helpful as possible. If you ask shallow questions, the feedback you get might not be as helpful for improving your advisory. On the other hand, if your questions are too deep and complex, it’ll be difficult for clients to answer (or they just might not feel like answering). So you have to find a nice balance. Here are some questions that will work for you:

  • What changed for you after you started using our product?
  • What is your main goal for using this website/product?
  • What feature/option could we add to make your experience better?
  • What challenges are you trying to solve?
  • What are your main concerns or questions about [product or service]?

How often do the advisors you know get client feedback? If it’s been more than a year, it’s time for them to take action to implement either a financial advisor client survey or an advisory board. They may uncover some changes that need to be made, but in the long run, they’ll have happier clients, increased referrals, and more efficient practice.

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