Research reveals that 17 per cent of Australians – some 4.25 million people – have bought a product from a financial adviser. That’s a lot of people forming impressions of the service they received. And these impressions are important.

In conjunction with market research company Little Triggers, MetLife recently conducted the largest life insurance quantitative study* of its kind, interviewing small-to-medium enterprises and consumers who have either purchased life insurance through an adviser, or are considering doing so in the next two years.

We caught up with MetLife’s Senior Manager, Marketing Science, André Purtell to understand what clients want in a financial adviser and explore some of the key takeaways so professionals can ensure they’re hitting the mark.

What characteristics do people want in a financial adviser?

When choosing a financial adviser, clients see the following attributes as being the most important:

  • honesty and trustworthiness
  • transparency around fees and commissions
  • experience

However, once the adviser – client relationship has been established, client expectations shift to the adviser needing to:

  • care genuinely about them
  • speak to them in a way they understand

while remaining honest and trustworthy.

The older the client is, the more important these priorities become, and men tend to rate their current adviser higher on each of these three attributes than women do.

How can I improve my client relationships?

Life insurance is complex and can come with lots of jargon, so the onus is on the adviser to make the process as simple as possible. A good adviser will explain all aspects of a product so that it is easy to understand, and will also provide guidance on the level of cover appropriate and relevant to a client’s needs and lifestyle.

In this way, clients can be comfortable with the decisions they make – and therefore, have confidence in their adviser.

Do different people seek different characteristics in a financial adviser?

An adviser’s soft skills are vitally important – clients want someone with more than just specialised technical skills.

What do clients think about their existing advisers?

The good news is that more than 85 per cent of clients who have received financial advice rate their adviser’s overall performance as either “good”, “very good” or “excellent”.

What are the factors clients like least?

As with just about any relationship, people want to feel their adviser cares about them and listens to them. It may sound like a cliché, but clients genuinely want to receive personalised and tailored service. They don’t want to be just a number.

What clients dislike most is taking out a policy and never hearing from their adviser again. This makes them least likely to recommend an adviser’s services.

What factors lead to clients switching advisers?

The building blocks of trust are emotional – the way people feel – and they all add up. Among clients who wouldn’t recommend their adviser, or who have stopped seeing one or changed advisers in the past, many cited a lack of communication, poor service and low trust, particularly around transparency.

How can I maintain positive client relationships?

Clients who have had a review with their adviser in the past year rate their advisers more highly than those who haven’t. In fact, advisers have mentioned to me that there is a strong correlation to conducting reviews and recommendations received from these clients. The first three years after a client takes out a policy is the biggest risk period for dissatisfaction.

The overwhelming majority of respondents – 86 per cent – with existing cover said they want to be contacted by their adviser every 12 months, and 52 per cent want to be contacted twice a year. For advisers, this means establishing how to deliver a personalised service in a cost-effective way.

Find out more

Download the MetLife Report: Understanding the Adviser-Client Relationship 2018