Top Advisors Take a “Mercedes” Approach to Client Satisfaction

By Cynthia Stephens, VP of Marketing, ByAllAccounts on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

What are the key traits of today’s successful financial advisors? What are their personal strengths? Top priorities? And what are a few of their personal preferences that round out the picture?

These are a few of the the questions ByAllAccounts asked when it recently took a national online survey of nearly 400 advisors.  We looked at responses from firms with more than $100 million in AUM who have grown 16%+ during the past two years.

The results covered everything from management priorities to music preferences to motoring along in a Mercedes— and provided us with a revealing profile:

Clients are No. 1, AUM growth is No. 2

It wasn’t even close. Just check out Chart A below to see how 96.9% of advisors measure success by client satisfaction, more than twice as many as the next highest metric, assets under management, which was used by 41.5%.


Then look at Chart B. See how client retention (65.6%) and client service (60.9%) are both higher priorities than AUM (59.4%).


Additionally, 96.8% of the fastest-growing advisors cited their understanding of client needs as their top personal strength.

Clearly, client service is the driving force that moves today’s RIA firm forward. This is not only a philosophical commitment, but it also determines how time and responsibilities on the job are allocated:

Time is spent with clients, not on the back office

As you’ll see, Chart C shows that 80.6% of advisors spent the majority of their time on client management, communication and service.  This surpasses even investment management and research.


The focus on client service is why so many firms have started to use data aggregation solutions that enable them to analyze and report on all of a client’s assets, including financial accounts such as 401(k)s and 529s.

With data aggregation, they’re able to get a comprehensive view of clients’ portfolios and provide holistic wealth management advice that differentiates the advisor from the competition.

The result: Increased client satisfaction, retention and revenue for the firm. In other words—better client service and a better bottom line.

Exceptional client service requires high standards

When we asked advisors to compare their firm to an automobile, a full 40.8% compared their firms metaphorically to a Mercedes SUV. Think of the exclusivity and quality that are conveyed by the Mercedes brand!

(Also, for an interesting take on the auto analogy as it relates to high levels of client service, see the recent blog by James Carney, CEO of ByAllAccounts: Change is Coming, RIAs. Don’t Get Caught in the Middle)

Advisors ranked the Beatles as their favorite musicians by greater than-2-to-1 over the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley (many others ranked far lower, like Elvis at 1.6%).

They are also 40% more likely to have an iPad by their bedside than a Bible.

How do these personal preferences relate to an advisor’s success? They may be more than tangential, because they indicate that advisors place great value on best-of-breed quality, talent, innovation and convenience — four characteristics that are essential to the stated goal of superior client service.

CLICK HERE For the full executive summary of the results, and for more information on data aggregation, please contact ByAllAccounts today. 

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