Are your clients' financial priorities what you think they are? 

By Graham Day, Managing Director, Head of U.S. Individual Retirement Sales

When you sit down with your clients to discuss their financial plans, are you always on the same page? If not, you’re not alone. It seems that financial professionals may not always see the same end-goal for their clients as their clients do. Part of that is their perception of the value you are providing.

According to a new study from Morningstar, investors and their financial professionals don’t always see eye-to-eye on their financial professionals’ most valuable attributes. That means you and your clients may have different financial priorities than you think they have.

What do investors value in their financial professionals?

  • High: They help me maximize my returns
  • Low: They help me stay in control of my emotions

What do financial professionals think investors value?

  • High: They understand me and my unique needs
  • Low: They help me maximize my returns

Source: “The Value of Advice: What Investors Think, What Advisors Think, and How Everyone Can Get on the Same Page,” The Investor Success Project, Morningstar, 2019

Redirect their financial focus

While clients may believe that their financial professionals’ most important job is helping them get the largest returns possible, financial professionals are thinking that their clients want and need personal strategies and guidance in navigating the ups and downs of the market. This disparity provides you an opportunity to redirect your clients’ financial focus, which may, in fact, give them a better chance of getting what they want in the end.

Too much focus on maximizing returns can lead to behaviors such as trying to time the market, following popular investing trends, and moving in and out of the market too frequently. These behaviors are typically driven by emotions, poor investment strategies, and can lead to portfolio losses. However, by getting your clients to focus on behaviors that can help them achieve their financial goals, you may give their investments the opportunity to perform better.

Getting your clients on the right track

To help your clients learn and exhibit good investment habits and behaviors, we suggest these simple strategies:

  • Help them recognize the wrong behaviors – When clients get caught up in the emotions of investing, they may attempt to follow buying and selling trends they see or hear in the news or try to time the market by getting in and out at the “right” time. For years, studies have shown that these emotionally driven behaviors typically lead to portfolio losses, not gains. So, it’s important that your clients recognize these behaviors and understand how they can be detrimental to their financial goals.


  • Emphasize a personalized approach – Your value as a financial professional goes way beyond simple investment selection. By talking to your clients about their specific goals and needs, then working with them to design a strategy to meet those unique goals, you are personalizing the strategy you provide. For example, some clients will need to incorporate college planning into their strategy, while others will need to plan for a disabled child or spouse or add funds for elder care into their financial plans. A risk averse couple who wants to save for retirement and leave a legacy may need specific financial products that will give them the flexibility to achieve both of their goals.


  • Focus on the long term – Once you have a personalized strategy in place for your clients, it’s typically easier to get them to focus on the long term. Emphasize that until their goals or needs change, their investment strategy should remain the same.


  • Keep in contact – The markets don’t have to be volatile for your clients to need reassurance that they are on the right track and that their strategy is solid. Sometimes, it only takes a bit of bad news at a well-known company, a new political twist or scandal, or predictions of a recession to send clients into sell-mode. A quick phone call stating that a long-term strategy is typically a prudent approach may be all it takes to keep them from making an emotionally charged decision. You may also want to make sure you see each client once or twice a year for a portfolio review. This may be a good opportunity to address any of their concerns and make sure their investment strategy continues to be aligned with their goals and risk tolerance.


  • Remind them of your value – After a phone call or meeting with your clients, send a quick note thanking them for their time and reminding them of the value you bring.  Note the personalized strategies and service you provide, help in focusing on the right investing behaviors, and availability to answer questions or address concerns. This may also be a great time to ask for referrals to others – family, friends, neighbors – who might benefit from your help or currently be looking for a financial professional.


While the potential for maximizing returns is an important financial goal, it shouldn’t be the only priority for your clients. As their financial professional, you can help them see beyond returns, stop reacting to their emotions, and take a long-term approach to their portfolio. Staying in touch and reminding them of your value can help them stay the course.

The subject matter discussed in this article is for informational purposes only.  This article is not intended to predict or guarantee any particular outcome or client experience and should not be considered investment or financial advice.

Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (NY, NY). Distributors: Equitable Advisors, LLC (member FINRA, SIPC) and Equitable Distributors, LLC. Equitable Financial  Life Insurance Company, Equitable Advisors and Equitable Distributors are affiliated companies and do not provide legal or tax advice.

GE-2497567 (04/2019) (Exp. 04/2021)