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What Prevents IBDs from Delivering an Exceptional Client Experience?

Monica Ruelas March 4, 2020

Updated on: November 17, 2021

Independent broker-dealers across the industry know they need to deliver a better experience to their customers. Getting started, however, can be difficult. It’s important to first answer a fundamental question: What do clients want? How your firm answers this question will determine how you go about improving the client’s experience.

According to a report from Cerulli, only 12% of satisfied investors base their satisfaction with their advisor on investment performance1. Investors most commonly list the trustworthiness, honesty, and dependability of the advisor as the reason for their satisfaction. The overall relationship they have with their advisor is the second-most commonly cited reason for satisfaction.

Today’s investors want to be involved and take a more active role in their financial wellness. As an IBD, you have to enable your advisors to build collaborative relationships with their clients if your firm is going to succeed in today’s competitive market.

Three Common Challenges IBDs Face in Enhancing the Client Experience

So what are the challenges IBDs face time and time again when it comes to the client experience?

It boils down to three things: investor adoption, client-facing technology, and business priorities.

First, firms report that end investors aren’t adopting their custodian-provided client portals. It’s hard for their advisors to provide an outstanding client experience if the end clients won’t engage. Advisors’ ability to develop collaborative relationships is limited right from the start if they can’t use the latest technology to dive deeper into their clients’ life goals. But maybe their low adoption is related to the technology being used to serve them, which brings me to my second point about client-facing technology.

The second major challenge IBDs face is that they’re primarily leveraging their custodian’s client portal technology, which doesn’t always have the compelling type of functionality you need to make clients come back. Things like robust aggregation, planning tools, or budgeting features are what encourage clients to engage with their plans. Advisors who don’t have these features at their disposal are limited in their ability to provide comprehensive financial planning. From the client’s perspective, this leads to a subpar experience. 

Lastly, when firms are considering new technology, compliance often takes priority over the client experience in new technology investments. However, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of a positive client experience. There are ways to make sure you’re meeting both business needs.

Deliver an Ideal Client Experience to Stay Relevant in a Competitive Marketplace

To provide an exceptional experience for clients, firms have to first find a way to justify the investment in the client’s experience. Then, they’ll have to determine which technology solutions fit their needs and how exactly to deploy those solutions in a way that will yield expected results.

To learn how your firm can enhance your client experience, and hear about the results some of the most successful advisory firms are seeing today, watch our on-demand webinar that covers exactly how IBDs can build an exceptional client experience. 


1 U.S. Advisor Metrics 2018 Reinventing the Client Experience. The Cerulli Report, 2018.

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About the Author

Monica Ruelas, Enterprise Sales Manager at eMoney, works closely with enterprise firms, helping them innovate their advisors’ business. Over the last decade at eMoney, Monica has held roles as an Inside Sales Manager and National Accounts Director. Over this time, she’s developed expertise assisting firms implementing wealth management software so their advisors can deliver more value to their clients.

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