Griffith University's Katherine Hunt

Licensee owner ClearView Wealth has responded to calls for more training on client engagement by securing the services of academic Katherine Hunt, a lecturer in the master’s of financial planning course at Griffith University.

The move by ClearView – which has 250 advisers spread across licensees ClearView Financial Advice (147) and Matrix Planning Solutions (103) – comes after an internal survey revealed that 60 per cent of advisers spent less than three hours a week on client engagement activities and 32 per cent of practices failed to expand their client base in the previous year.

“Our research found that the biggest obstacle holding advisers back was time,” ClearView head of distribution strategy Kathryn Williamson, says. “However, in order to futureproof your business, it is essential to purposefully invest time and money into client engagement.”

Griffith’s Hunt will speak about specific tools advisers can use to “systematise client relationships”, including how to develop a “quiver of powerful questions” and “tailored communication models for each client, based on the categories of self-control, optimism, temperament, financial literacy, visual/auditory learner and type of preferred communication”.

The lecturer will speak to ClearView representatives during the group’s national roadshow and will co-author a workbook on client engagement.

Hunt – who spends her free time on the Gold Coast surfing and skating – is an ex-financial planner with a background in psychology and a PhD in law and economics. ClearView officials reached out to her, she explains, partly because they were keen to address concerns their advisers had about clients’ perceptions in the wake of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

“Advisers have told ClearView they would like more tools on client engagement, as clients are more costly to service with increasing compliance yet more conscious of fees with the royal commission,” Hunt says.

Williamson says that while identifying a need for client engagement is important, knowing how to go about it is another matter.

“What does a client engagement strategy look like; how can it be practically implemented and how can you measure its effectiveness?” Williamson asks. “If your strategy merely comprises a birthday card and Christmas card, and an annual offer of review letter… it’s not enough.”

Hunt commends ClearView for being proactive and listening to the needs of its advisers. She explains the training will focus on the communication methods advisers can use to show clients their true value.

“Most planners end up having discussions about investment returns that they don’t really want to have in an effort to show their value,” she explains. “What I talk about isn’t highly complicated but it helps the adviser demonstrate they’re doing more than literally just managing money… in a language the client can understand.”

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Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning.