It’s easy to underestimate how much your work environment affects your performance as an advisor.
Your office (or however you define your workspace) sets the tone for everything you do: it influences how you feel about your work, your level of clarity and focus, how you are perceived by your clients, and your bottom line.
A recent Work Environment Study conducted by Wakefield Research, showed that all groups—including millennials, Baby Boomers, and what the researchers called “the general population”—agree that an innovative and flexible office design stimulates creativity and boosts productivity.
That said, your office environment has a deeper influence than just how well you work. It also reflects your stature and communicates to your clients and colleagues how you much you value them.
In a 2003 survey by Management Today magazine, virtually all (97 percent) of those responding said that they regarded their place of work or office environment as a symbol of whether or not they were valued.
It's not difficult to see how clients would feel this way about their advisors, with their sense of being valued influenced by the environment you create and meet them in. In fact, this same study found that only 37 percent thought that their offices had been designed ‘with people in mind,' and no less a third said that they were too ashamed of their offices to bring back colleagues or clients.
Clearly, this is not what you want.
Client Communication—Especially In-Person—Is More Important than Ever
Recently, a Beddoe's communication study discovered some eye-opening realities about client communication. The first principle is that is a clear "more is more" relationship with client communication.
The survey found that an ever-increasing number of client communication channels improved client satisfaction. And while all channels were important (including phone, email, texting and other digital formats)—in-person was the most critical channel for deepening the relationship and building long-term trust.
With the rise in automation, AI and robo-services, many clients yearn for an intimate in-person experience that feels authentically human. While remote/digital communication is essential, creating “sticky” client experiences is critical to building lasting, potentially life-long (or even multi-generational) partnerships.
Does Your Environment Communicate Everything You Want to Clients?
Take a moment to look around your office or workspace. Does it reflect your values? Does it make clients feel warm, welcome and excited to meet and work with you? If not, here are some possible considerations we've found to be useful after polling thousands of advisors in our network:
Here are some key factors:
Is it professional? – in other words, is your environment befitting what your clients would expect from a highly professional advisor?
Is it distraction-free? – do you have too many visible screens or computers that could cause your client to feel he or she is receiving less than 100% of your attention?
Does it create a sense of expertise? – Your clients want to feel that you're an elite, high-performing advisor with high-level knowledge. Do you have elements in your office that convey this sense of wisdom or mastery?
Does it feel upscale? – high net worth individuals are used to more luxurious or upscale settings; are you communicating this?
Are you innovative? – are you giving your clients a sense that you're on the cutting-edge, and creative in your approach with their money?
All of these important for many reasons. But arguably, the top reason is they create trust. As Stephen Covey says, “trust is the highest form of human motivation.” Ultimately, it is trust that will keep your clients with you for life, and beyond.
Our Search for the Perfect Office Upgrade
Seeing how advisors in our network were in need of creative ways to upgrade their office environment, and yet had little time to look for something—we decided to search ourselves.
We wanted to find a piece or art or technology that would be aesthetically pleasing, and help hit all the points above.
Something that befits a financial professional, is not a flashing blue screen, speaks to your expertise, taste and sense of innovation.
Ultimately, we only found one item really reflected all this and more for our financial advisors.
The Market is what the founders call, “a smart sculpture”—because it’s connected and designed to move in concert with changes in key markets.
How does it accomplish this? Simple: the artwork has Wi-Fi enabled connectivity, which intelligently tracks eleven global stock market indices and five cryptocurrencies. And it changes as the capital markets shift from Bull to Bear and back.
The bear and bull have long been symbols of risk and reward in the financial world, and there’s never been a more aesthetically pleasing way to keep your finger on the pulse of the markets.
Along the lines of crucial considerations we just discussed, The Market also communicates that you’re professional, helps reduce or avoid distracting screens being visible to clients, promotes an upscale feeling and always makes for an interesting conversation piece to bond over.
The only catch? August & Wonder will only make 300 units of The Market in their limited-edition production run, ensuring that it becomes a collector’s item in the years to come.