Active investment management’s weekly magazine for fee-based advisors

Diana Avery, CFP • Atlanta, GA
Avery Financial Services • USA Financial Securities Corp.

I want my clients to feel that I am giving them the ultimate client-service experience. I have studied a lot of top firms across different industries and understand that the client experience is really what separates the best ones. By and large, I don’t think people receive personalized service from financial-services companies that goes above and beyond. I am always available to my clients and encourage them to contact me with any questions or concerns, no matter how small they might appear to be.

Part of this pursuit of service excellence is in creating a warm, enjoyable, welcoming environment for clients. I hold several client appreciation events each year, and those are always well-attended. Of course, the real key to success as an advisor is in providing high-quality, professional guidance that helps people move forward in their financial lives in a positive manner. I want clients to feel that I really get their personal situation, needs, and objectives and am an empathetic person, as well as insightful and solutions-oriented. I will ask tough questions during the financial-planning process, but those are always handled sensitively and with the objective of helping clients overcome challenges and identify opportunities.

There are a few areas that I emphasize in working with clients that I believe exemplify my commitment to client service:
  1. During the initial stages of getting to know one another and discovery, I emphasize to clients that I want to make sure that I am the right resource for them. My feelings will not be hurt if I am not that person. The important thing is that we are on the same page, have a basic compatibility, and that I feel certain that I have the knowledge and resources to help a client achieve their goals. If not, I am happy to recommend other resources.
  2. I want clients to know above all that I care solely about their best interests. Once we have established that I think I can help them, I usually ask the question, “What do you want to achieve at the conclusion of our financial-planning engagement?” At a minimum, that is what I will strive to deliver, but realistically, they may not even know the right questions to ask or where there are gaps and opportunities within their financial situation. I take great pride in seeing clients emerge from the financial-planning process with greatly enhanced knowledge and a real road map for their financial future.
  3. I think I can add tremendous value in the area of retirement plans and benefits. I worked for several years in the 403(b) area as a pension specialist. This not only involves how one manages and exits a company 401(k) or pension plan, but how a client can find the appropriate claiming strategy for Social Security, Medicare, or other benefit programs in retirement.
  4. The chief concern for many of my clients is maintaining a high quality of life in retirement and making sure their assets are not depleted early. I analyze, assess, and recommend financial steps needed now to enhance the probabilities for a positive outcome in their retirement planning.
  5. Clients are bombarded every day with messaging about different financial options in the marketplace, such as reverse mortgages, various life insurance programs, or borrowing against a 401(k). These can be very confusing and complicated. We need to ascertain with the client how these options can truly work for or against their financial situation, especially from a tax and risk perspective.
  • Ascertain if you are the proper resource for meeting a client’s needs.
  • Ask clients what they hope to achieve by the end of the planning process.
  • Provide solutions for a high-quality life in retirement.
  • Focus on service excellence throughout the relationship.

Disclosure: Diana Avery is an investment advisor representative of, and securities and advisory services are offered through, USA Financial Securities Corp., member FINRA/SIPC. www.finra.org. A registered investment advisor located at 6020 E. Fulton St., Ada, MI 49301. Avery Financial Services is not affiliated with USA Financial Securities.

Photography by Lynsey Weatherspoon

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