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The one question every advisor should ask clients to understand their true needs

Every financial advisor should understand what motivates their clients to work with their firm. If a financial advisor can understand why a client hired their firm, the advisor can create marketing strategies that will speak to the needs and motivations of more ideal clients. But understanding customer needs is easier said than done.

What are customer needs and why are they important?

When it comes to running your wealth management firm, it is important to know what your ideal clients need and expect from their relationship with you and your team. Broadly speaking, your clients’ needs can be broken down into two categories: functional needs and emotional needs.

Functional needs are the basic needs that a customer has. For example, a recently retired client has an RIA and needs a professional advisor to help with the roll over. Emotional needs are more complex. They are the needs that customers have that go beyond the functional. For example, when a business owner decides to offer a retirement plan, they may want to establish a traditional 401(k) but have concerns about their responsibility as the fiduciary on the plan.

It is important for financial advisors to understand both types of clients’ needs because it is those very needs that will influence the way clients make decisions. And if you focus in on the common emotional needs that are most important for your clients, you can develop a trustworthy brand that resonates with your ideal client and differentiates you from the competition.

Now, there are different well-known factors that can help you understand customer needs, such as:





It is also good to start with you. Self-reflection can be a powerful tool to help you understand your own decision-making patterns and how they might compare to your clients. By identifying similarities and differences, you can begin to see what your customers might need from your business. Through collecting and understanding all these factors, you can create a brand that appeals to your ideal target client.

Do you know the real needs of your client?

The process, however, of gathering and analyzing these client factors and turning the information into a brand strategy is a costly, long-tail effort that many advisors avoid doing. Therefore, financial advisors often fail to create focused messaging that speaks to needs and motivations behind their clients’ initial decisions to become customers. It is not that the message is necessarily wrong, but more that the message is too broad and is trying to speak to everyone.

For example, have you ever come across a financial advisor website with the following message in the home page header: “We help you live your best life in retirement”

That can be the marketing message for a gym, a pharmaceutical company, a yoga studio, and thousands of other services.

You see, to create the right message that speaks to the emotional needs of a client, you must understand precisely why your clients choose you over a competitor in the first place. And the reason your clients decided to work with you is not because of the quality of your service or that you care about their well-being. Those factors cannot be the case because your client must experience working with you and your talented team to know you care about their well-being beyond their experience with a competitor. It takes time for your clients to trust you and form an opinion of how exceptional you are.

To put it simply, the trust, relationship, comfortability, and quality of service are why your clients stay with you and refer friends to your firm.

The One Question: Why?

To develop a powerful brand and understand your ideal clients’ true needs, you must start by asking your clients to take you all the way back to the morning, afternoon, or evening they decided to hire you. And ask your client “Why?”

“Why on that day did you decide it was the right time to work with me?”

Identify ten of your ideal clients, schedule a 1-hour call with each, and ask them to describe what was happening in their life on that day or week that led them to the understanding that you were the right advisor. Let your client talk about their fears, their frustrations with the previous advisor, their concerns about the future. Let your clients tell you why, and you will discover their needs.

The Audit

Once you understand precisely why your clients chose to work with your firm, you will want to make sure that your marketing message is on point and speaks to the common needs of your ideal clients. This means looking at all the content that you produce, from your website and social posts to your email newsletters and brochures. Even how your staff interacts with clients should be includes in your audit.

The goal is to ensure that everything you say and do is focused on your clients' needs. By taking the time to do a content audit, you can be sure that your message and client experience is as effective as possible.

If you are not sure how to go about doing a content and message audit, there are plenty of resources available online. Or you could hire a marketing consultant to help you through the process. Either way, it is important that you align your marketing message with your clients' needs. Only then can you be sure that your marketing efforts are truly effective.

Parting thoughts

It is important to keep in mind how the changing world we live in has a direct impact on our wants and needs. As a business owner, you should continuously monitor your clients’ needs and make the necessary adjustments to your service offering and marketing message. This can be a challenge, but it is essential if you want to stay ahead of the competition and keep your clients satisfied.

If you want help in defining a strategy to uncover your clients’ true needs, or if you are interested in a content audit, contact our marketing team for free consultation.


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