The Current State

Though often referred to as a “relationship industry,” there is a wide variation in actual relational skills among advisors.  This becomes most apparent when looking at what it takes to facilitate in-depth client understanding.  It can be intimidating, risky, uncomfortable…and many advisors feel under-qualified. 


As an industry, the main development opportunity is around cultivating more robust relational and facilitation competencies (and a willingness to move toward --rather than avoid--the uncomfortable conversations).

Our Research

See the overall benchmark results for the Client Relationship Management activity area:


Download Activity Area Benchmarks


Resources to Help You Succeed


Development Opportunities

Being able to pick up on a client’s communication style and “synchronize” with them can be a powerful step forward in creating connection and openness with clients; ask yourself:

  • How well do you understand your own communication style and tendencies?
  • How well do you pick up on your clients’ style and tendencies?



Many advisors report participating in personality & communication style assessments to improve their knowledge and self-awareness; frequently mentioned mainstream tools include: MBTI, DISC, Kolbe, and CliftonStrengths

Train your ability to spot and adapt to client personality and communication styles: download communications styles & “tells” presentation and reference card 


A pillar of the emerging value proposition for financial advisors is the development of their own emotional intelligence and competence to facilitate deep discovery and behavior change with clients.


Empathic listening is a central pillar of facilitation competence (but financial advisors don’t have many focused training options)

Many organizations offer financial life planning or coaching programs that include empathy training;  for focused empathic listening training -- learn from a different industry: free online empathy training program (designed by the AMA for Healthcare Practices)

Client discovery & understanding is not just for building the plan—it yields many benefits for building the client relationship and delivering on higher forms of client value (e.g., facilitating client self-awareness and personal growth).

How could you (and your clients) be getting more benefit out of your client discovery & understanding efforts?  Jump to resource centers: