Financial Advisors Struggle to Earn Client Loyalty

By Hal M. Bundrick

NEW YORK (MainStreet) For the first year, your financial advisor is on top of his game. With regular meetings, and frequent phone calls, you feel well taken care of. But as time passes, the meetings become once-a-year at best, and the phone calls come only when some account action is required. You hear more from the assistant then from the advisor.

It's a common pattern of financial advisor service and likely leads to increasing client attrition. PriceMetrix, a practice management software provider, examined its database of 7 million investors and nearly 40,000 financial advisors, and found that the risk of having a client leaving is the highest during years two through four of an advisor and client working together.

The relationship between client and advisor begins with a "honeymoon" period during the first year when client retention is 95%. Over the next couple of years loyalty slides, with the probability of retention dropping to just 74% before leveling off after year four.

"In striving to retain clients, advisors should keep these different stages of each client relationship in mind and redouble their efforts to demonstrate their value to clients during the critical second through fourth years of their relationships," says Doug Trott, president and CEO of PriceMetrix.

The most successful advisors (in the top 10% for client retention) retain over 98% of their clients in any given year, while the least successful retain only 84% of their clients. PriceMetrix says advisors with the greatest account churn must replace clients at 8 times the rate of the most successful advisors, just to stay even.

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