BOSTON — Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions (FCCS), the division of Fidelity Investments that provides clearing and custody to registered investment advisors (RIAs), retirement recordkeepers, broker-dealer firms, banks and insurance companies, today announced the introduction of a program focused on helping advisors strengthen their prospect and client experience from the very beginning: during the sales process. Fidelity's Mystery Shopping program, the first of its kind offered by a custodian for financial advisors, starts with firms engaging with a third-party market research firm, which uses real investors – not actors – to pose as shoppers who meet a firm's pre-defined client profile. Without revealing their involvement with the mystery shopping program, these individuals interact with the firm as if they were a prospect and then reveal what their experience was like: both the positive aspects and the shortcomings.
According to Cerulli, an exclusive or high-end image does not impress new clients like it may have in the past, with just 19 percent of advisors saying that was a reason a new client chose their practice. Rather, today, a warm and personable image (75 percent) and high-touch service (63 percent) make the strongest impact on clients choosing an advisory firm1.
"You cannot underestimate the power of a first impression. It's critical for firms to have a good grasp on how prospects feel about them from the first click on their websites or first steps into their offices," said David Canter, executive vice president, practice management and consulting, Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions. "Once in the door, the power of listening to those prospective clients is critical. Investors have many options for financial advice, and advisors need to be keenly aware of how they may 'fit' with each prospect. Mystery Shopping can provide that outside perspective to firms so they improve their first interactions with clients – not only for an improved client experience, but also more complete discovery for the firm."
The Mystery Shopping program is part of Fidelity's Relationship Quality Framework, an overall approach to help map a client experience to the stages of a client's journey with a firm, starting with the prospect experience.
Fidelity's Mystery Shopping program is a collaboration with HawkPartners and GfK, two market research firms that have extensive experience in mystery shopping for various industries outside of financial services. Firms that are existing Fidelity clients will have the opportunity to work with HawkPartners or GfK on the Mystery Shopping program at a discounted rate. In addition to the personalized feedback they receive from mystery shoppers about their firm, they will also have access to insights and case studies from other Fidelity clients that have participated, to further expand their knowledge as they evolve their client and prospect experience.
"The five firms that participated in the pilot of Fidelity's Mystery Shopping program to-date have all gained insight from the feedback and look forward to improving their closing ratios by putting key learnings into practice," said Canter. "Firms often focus so intently on the day-to-day needs of their current clients that they may have blind spots in their business that are worth addressing."
That outside perspective can uncover some surprising opportunities that some firm owners may miss, including:
- Missing key client details during the discovery process
- Touting a "personalized" experience while using an automated phone system
- Excluding key associates from the sales process
- Hosting a website that does not reflect the firm's brand
- Understanding potential clients' perceptions of an office setting
- Providing confusing directions to the firm's office
"We have a culture of continuous improvement and learning and were open to the feedback that could make us better," explained Tyler Mayfield, chief operating office of Seattle-based Brighton Jones. "Fidelity's Mystery Shopping program was an ideal research tool to uncover incredible insights that we've now translated into an improved approach for initial prospect conversations."
For additional information on Fidelity's Mystery Shopping experience with HawkPartners and GfK, visit Take the Mystery Out of Improving Your Sales Process white paper.
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity's goal is to make financial expertise broadly accessible and effective in helping people live the lives they want. With assets under administration of $5.6 trillion, including managed assets of $2.1 trillion as of September 30, 2016, we focus on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers: helping more than 25 million people invest their own life savings, nearly 20,000 businesses manage employee benefit programs, as well as providing nearly 10,000 advisory firms with investment and technology solutions to invest their own clients' money. Privately held for 70 years, Fidelity employs 45,000 associates who are focused on the long-term success of our customers. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit https://www.fidelity.com/about.
HawkPartners helps industry-leading businesses get more out of their marketing efforts by exploring the factors influencing complex customer decisions and turning insight into action. Founded in 2003, the firm is headquartered in Boston, MA, with additional offices in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. For more information about HawkPartners, please visit www.hawkpartners.com.
GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK's long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers' experiences and choices. For more information, please visit www.gfk.com or follow GfK on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GfK