At a Wealth Manager’s Firm, First Impressions Count
You might have your firm’s operations down to a T, but how are your business’ values communicated through the style of your offices? Georgina Smith offers some advice.
Whenever I visit an adviser firm, I love to put myself in the position of a new client. If this is where you conduct your client meetings how do I, a brand new client, feel when I come to your office?
I talk about how to make the meet and greet from front of house awesome in another article, but right now I want to concentrate on your premises.
A typical scenario
I’m a brand-new client and I’ve been recommended to you by a friend, so I telephoned to make an appointment. The lady I spoke to on the phone was friendly and efficient and now I find myself with my husband at your offices for the first time.
Once I gain access to your property, I look at the grounds; how well are they kept? Subliminally I’ll think, “If you can’t be bothered to mow your grass and weed your flower beds, you won’t show the necessary care and attention with my money.”
I enter your offices and assess which year I’m in – more often than not I’m somewhere in the mid ‘90s. A beige reception area is probably a firm owner trying to play it safe, but from a client perspective you’ve elevated my anxiety by subconsciously making me feel like I’m in an office and you’ve missed an opportunity to show me a piece of your personality. Unless, of course, beige is a key colour in your branding.
I introduce myself to someone behind a high reception desk. Even if she stands up, introduces herself and is perfectly lovely, there’s a barrier between us.
I’m offered a hard chair / a slightly stained sofa / an odd and out-of-place 19th century armchair in a corner of the reception area. It appears that the idea that clients may want to sit down was an afterthought of whomever designed the offices. On the table next to me there are some magazines for me to flick through while I wait. I’m in a financial adviser’s office, so of course I’ll want to fill my time by reading what’s on offer: MoneyMarketing or an old edition of Personal Finance. However, the headlines of articles warning of a Brexit Armageddon and increasing global uncertainty written in language or terms I don’t understand only heightens my anxiety further.
I meet my financial adviser who then takes me to a formal boardroom where I can fill any downtime between us by counting the numerous varieties of wood around the room.
How about an alternative?
I drive into your offices where it’s immediately obvious where I should park. As I get out of the car, an immaculately-kept garden area greets me.
The person I booked the appointment with explained on the telephone where the front door is so I know where I’m heading. I walk into a bright and fresh reception area and I immediately know what this firm is about: their vision and values are clear to see from their decor to the way their people behave.
Subliminally, I pick up a beautiful faint smell of flowers via a diffuser which, when I become a long-term client, will consistently be associated with this firm.
I see a lady behind a low-level, tidy desk. She comes around to the front to greet me, explaining who she is and what her role in the firm is. After some chit chat which puts me at ease, she offers me some refreshments and shows me to an area curated especially for visiting clients. There’s a comfy sofa with a couple of matching chairs and on the coffee table is a choice of high-end, up-to-date magazines such as GQ, Good Housekeeping, Men’s Health and Stuff.
I’m so relaxed, I’m ready to settle in for the afternoon so much so that I’m surprised and a little annoyed when my new adviser greets me.
So, what does your meeting room look like?