Must Do Better! - Spear's Magazine

Must Do Better!

Wealth managers fail, fail, fail to listen to their clients – so tell us what they're doing wrong.

I got stuck on a plane this week. I don't enjoy flying at the best of times – being stuck in one place for 10 hours gives me the jitters, especially when it is airborne. Delays vex me even more.

Anyway, there was some asinine problem taking off and the pilot explained, very jovially, that the issue was taking a while to fix but he would keep us informed every five minutes. Now, the nice thing was that he did exactly that – every five minutes for 45 minutes – until we took off. Not once did he get stressed or reticent or blame anyone (even though it was the fault of the ground-crew, as I later found out).

I am a big fan of positive communication. I spend a lot of time working on it with wealth firms. What was really interesting observing the plane was that none of the passengers (strangely, including me) were visably perturbed, even with a serious delay. Also, I heard the flight attendants feeding the same observation to the pilot, so he was obviously in the loop about what was going on behind him. So, there was a great communication-loop between the pilot, the passengers and back to the pilot (via the flight crew). This is not an easy achievement, especially when the  issue is beyond the influence of anyone on board.

The whole thing got me thinking about banks (I do spend a lot of time thinking about banks, for better or worse). What is amazing is that so many ex-co’s constantly say that communication with clients is FUNDAMENTAL to the business, especially post-financial crisis; but at the same time very few take any serious client-input. Say one thing and do another – not a great start to a communication strategy.

The usual reasons given for the lack in communcation are that wealthy people are too busy, or will have nothing to say. Both are a little illogical. More so, other industries – from airlines to automotive – take client-insight at the core of new R&D. Believe me, I’ve seen what Lamborghini did for R&D on a 4×4 concept car – and it was jaw dropping. After all there is no point building something without a market (no matter how exclusive) to sell it to. It is basic business economics.

So, in the spirit of open communication I’d like to invite Spear's readers to say what you would like to see improved. It can be anything from having iPhone access to portfolios to access to CEOs, to fee transparency. After all this is about you, the reader, the client, the buyer and the consumer.