Transparency and understanding during the client experience is required, or else suspicion, anxiety and ultimately mistrust arise. There are two levels of transparency between the advisor and the client, and when both exist you have the ability to gain and maintain trust. Level one sets expectations by explaining the process to the client; where it begins, where it ends and the outcomes they can expect. Level two communicates status to the client, which is where you are in that process. 

What advisors can learn about transparency from the shipping industry

Major shipping companies have set the transparency bar high with comprehensive package tracking. When I ship a package, I know the process and what to expect (level one). I am presented with a tracking number and an estimated date of arrival (level two). At all times throughout the process, I know my status — when the package has been shipped, each stop it makes, and what time it arrived at and left each stop. Sometimes I even know the name of the person delivering the package. Seeing each step in the process allows me to completely trust the company responsible for delivering my package. 

Before this technology existed, my package was in a black hole between its original location and its destination. As a sender, the only way I knew it arrived was if I got a phone call or a thank you note from the recipient. Any black hole leaves a lot of room for disappointment and eventually mistrust. The introduction of the tracking closed that hole.

How advisors can create a transparent process

I recently spoke to an advisor who outlined the process they use with their clients, which addresses both levels of transparency. This technique, shown in the chart here, is simple to implement. You can put this into a PowerPoint slide or you can just use a whiteboard and some sticky notes.

First, the cyclical process is represented, which helps drive home that it’s continuous. Next to that is a simple chart of people and steps involved in the process.

Chart showing all sides of transparency in the advisor-client relationship

The advisor uses this chart technique in every client meeting, so each person starts with a full view of the process, where they are and where everyone else involved is. They detail the activities and expectations of each person. There is clarity as to what is happening or not happening with their investment portfolio or financial plan.

This simple exercise drives home the fact that the advisor and his/her team are working for the client. It gives clients the opportunity to formulate and ask informed questions about their plan or situation. Most importantly, it builds and solidifies trust in the advisor because — just like package tracking — it communicates the entire process and the status.

Transparency is essential for a good client experience

Transparency provides the opportunity to build deep trust between you and your client. It alleviates anxiety because it eliminates the need for them to wonder. Think of transparency as another service you can offer. Our industry is intimidating to many and as an advisor you are their ambassador. Pulling back the proverbial curtain can help you set expectations, reduce questions and build trust.

I am interested in how you provide transparency to your client. Do you have a transparent process? Do you use any digital tools to help create transparency? Please share in the comments below.

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