What Do Clients Really Value The Most?
When I started my own firm almost four years ago, I spent a lot time asking myself and my fellow colleagues what clients really value the most. During conversations that I had with many wealthy individuals and investment professionals, I was routinely reminded of the following comment from a long-time client:
“Preston, I hired you to help our family develop and implement an investment plan… But, do you know what I have come to realize that I really pay you for? Transparency, simplicity and peace of mind.”
This client’s clear-eyed view of what was most important to him has stayed with me throughout the process of growing the firm. When my new partner and I were rebranding the firm Fiduciary Wealth Partners in early 2015, he and I decided to focus our approach on providing clients greater peace of mind by offering keep-it-simple investment solutions with full transparency.
As I have written about in a number of articles (some listed below), this idea has become central to our philosophy.
Related to simplicity, our investment process is focused on the consistent evidence that keep-it-simple index investment strategies often win.
Index funds are not for everyone and we understand the argument for active management well (I spent over 20 years successfully selling active funds rising to the level of a Managing Director of a large asset management firm).
Beyond the merits of index versus active investments, however, we believe the wealth management business spends too much time and money promising relative outperformance. Considering how hard it is to deliver on these promises and the enormity of the resources (firm time and client fees) spent in pursuit of something that research indicates is very elusive, shouldn’t we be focusing more on other things?
Versus trying so hard to find and sell alpha, maybe the industry should be spending more time trying to understand clients’ feelings about risk and reward (not just presenting output from questionnaires or Monte Carlo simulations). Maybe we should offer full transparency (openly discussing both sides of a trade, fully disclosing all fees and terms, potential biases and conflicts).
How about just communicating using simple language so clients can genuinely understand their investments? If so, maybe their greater understanding will help clients resist the urge to change course during short-term market corrections and instead stick to their long-term wealth plans.
Investing should not be a competition, it should be a tool that enables an investor’s achievement of specific, personal goals.
Let’s spend less time selling and sparring over relative performance and more time candidly discussing the pros and cons of issues important to our clients and their families. How about listening not just to respond but to understand what clients want to achieve? How about explaining what we can reasonably offer and, together with our clients, implementing strategies that increase comfort and peace of mind?
At Fiduciary Wealth Partners, we believe that more time spent on simplicity, full transparency and creating peace of mind increases trust and helps us form more lasting partnerships for the benefit of our clients. This is why we are proud to announce our new registered trademark:
Preston D. McSwain is a Managing Partner and Founder of Fiduciary Wealth Partners, an SEC registered investment advisor committed to forming fiduciary wealth partnerships with clients, professional colleagues, and the community. To see more of his posts, and follow him on social media, please visit the following