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Have You Settled For “Satisfied” Clients?

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No one told you. Through all that training, the certifications and licenses, the subject of human interaction (and all the variables that would entail) never came up. Your analysis, strategic acumen, and track record can stand with the best, but in the end it’s the one-to-one element, the way you connect, the ‘they get it’ factor, that can make or break a client relationship. 

Brendan Frazier, founder of Wired Planning and host of The Human Side of Money podcast, recently talked about this issue, and how to address it, with The Flexible Advisor. Recently named a top-100 financial advisor by Investopedia, Frazier helps advisors enhance the trajectory of their businesses through more meaningful client interaction. 

Emotional Connection

The difference between a book of satisfied clients and a book of emotionally connected clients can be the difference between a good practice and a thriving one. But what is an ‘emotional connection’ in the client/advisor context, how do you create one, and what is the benefit?

“You want dive deeper. It’s not just about goals or what keeps them up at night. It’s not about your process or your white glove customer service model. It’s about uncovering their values."

As Frazier explains it: “To satisfy a client, the conversation is fairly straightforward: ‘What's your goal? Perfect. Here's a retirement projection, and here's what you need to save and invest to make that happen.’ To establish an emotional connection, you want dive deeper. It’s not just about goals or what keeps them up at night. It’s not about your process or your white glove customer service model. It’s about uncovering their values. Sharing at that deeper level is what drives emotional connection. Maybe you’ll learn that they don't just want to ‘retire.’ They want to take three months of cooking classes in Italy, then come back and host family and neighbors. Drawing out this kind of detail engages the client on a much more personal level. 


  • Emotionally connected clients can help your firm thrive.
  • By giving the client space and making it about them, you get more information.
  • Emotionally connected clients see the value and they're willing to pay whatever it takes. They tend to provide more referrals. They are more likely to agree with the things you suggest. It may also lead to higher consolidation of assets.

Three steps to surpass mere satisfaction:

  1. Ask.  In his work with advisors, Frazier begins by having them craft questions that will help clients talk about the things that are most important to them. “It takes a little work, mapping out exactly how to engage clients this way. But what are the questions you want to ask to facilitate the conversation? There's no one, perfect, ‘right’ way to do it. But if you do it right, it can be a truly transformational experience where people walk out saying, ‘That's the best conversation I've ever had around money.’”
  2. Listen. Frazier suggests a new 80/20 rule.  “It’s been said that the number one predictor of client satisfaction is the amount of airtime they have,” said Frazier. “In your next conversation, whether it's a prospect or a client, try to listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time. Advisors tell me it feels a bit unnatural at first. But at the end they usually think ‘That was one of the best conversations I've had with a client in a long time.’ By giving the client space and making it about them, you get more information.” 
  3. Repeat. No more than 24 hours after the conversation, email the client with a recap of what they shared. The things they said are important to them, things they're feeling and going through, as well as the other things that you talked about. Touch on what you need to do on the financial planning and the investment side of things.  “You’ll get emails saying, ‘Thank you so much. I feel heard,’ which to me is maybe the ultimate client compliment. With that,” Frazier said, ”you start on a path toward an emotionally engaged relationship.”

Frazier is quick to acknowledge that some advisors already employ a version of some or all of these practices. “It's not a crazy, novel concept. It’s not groundbreaking, If you do this already that’s great, but you can probably do it better. If you don't, it's something you should start doing pretty much tomorrow.” 

Access The FULL Podcast

You can access the full discussion on The Flexible Advisor, wherever you get your podcasts.

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