As a financial planner, how do you know what your clients think, feel and value?

You may have a sense, anecdotally, from conversations with clients (e.g. during their annual review). However, this is not a reliable way to get a “real-time, snapshot picture” of your clients’ fears, dreams and opinions.

Client surveys are a powerful way to capture this information. In fact, surveys are arguably more important than almost any other aspect of a financial planner’s marketing strategy, at the start.

Without a clear sense of your clients’ psychographics, your strategy will be blind. However, once you have your client survey results in front of you, it becomes easier to build a marketing plan around their needs and goals.

Below, we will be sharing some key steps to take when constructing a survey for your financial planning business. We hope this is useful to you. If you are looking to start your own survey, then this is something we could assist with via our client newsletter offering.

Get in touch to find out more.


Establish your goals

What do you want to achieve, specifically, from your client survey?

It is important not to simply want to do a survey because you feel like you should, or because you know competitors have done it. You will get a lot more out of the project if you know clearly, beforehand, what you are looking to accomplish with it.

For instance, one worthy goal might be to gather quotes from clients – to use as social proof your website, brochure(s) and other marketing channels/materials.

You will need express permission to use quotes for these purposes, but many clients will be happy to oblige.

Another good goal is to find out what’s important to your clients regarding financial planning. What do they value most, for instance, from working with you? Their answers may not completely align with the value you think you are offering, but it is better to find out!

A final idea is to use a survey to gauge clients’ feelings about a proposed change or project for your business. Perhaps you are thinking about merging with another company, and you are unsure how clients will feel about it.

In certain circumstances, a survey could ask around the idea and give you a sense of how clients might react.


Agree on the questions

Your survey will need to ask the right questions – and the right number of questions.

Too few questions and you won’t get enough information to make the exercise worthwhile. Too many, and  you risk exhausting clients.

Whichever questions you settle on, moreover, you need to take care not to phrase these as leading questions. These can skew the results as clients may be tempted to try and offer the “right” answer, rather than share what they really think.

A good starting point for a client survey is 10 questions. You may want to do slightly more/less, depending on your clients and goals.

Take care to consider your balance of “open” and “closed” questions in your survey. How helpful, for instance, is it simply to have a survey full of yes/no questions? On the other hand, can you effectively compile the data if all of the answers are open-ended?

Here, you may need to consider the list size and how much work would be involved to process the results. One idea is to include some “sliding scale” questions, where the answers might range from “strongly agree”, “agree”, “disagree”, “strongly disagree” and “don’t know”.


Find a good survey platform

You could just send out a Word document to your clients, containing your survey questions. However, this likely will not look professional, and data from the results can be difficult to gather and analyse.

Instead, consider a system like Survey Monkey. Dedicated platforms like this enable you to build a survey fairly quickly, and at low cost. They also provide built-in functionality to record clients’ answers and present the data in a clear, digestible manner.

You may need to decide on whether to use a “free” version of these survey platforms, or whether to go for a more expensive option which takes away the platform branding (and URL) to make space for your own.


Run a pilot

Before sending out your survey to the full email list, consider sending it out to a smaller sub-group first.

Or, to be extra safe before even this step, you could send it out to key members of your team. They can then fill it out, imagining that they are your financial planning clients. They can then feed back to you if they spot any problems with the survey.

The benefit of a pilot survey is that, if it goes wrong for whatever reason, the damage is limited to a small group. It also presents the chance to make improvements which could dramatically enhance your results, when the final campaign is run.


Plan your survey campaign

Should you simply send out your client survey, or should you tell clients about it beforehand?

How many follow-up emails with the survey should you send to those who do not open the email, or fill out the questions?

These are important questions and it’s important to strike a balance. The reality is, not everyone is going to read the first email with your survey, and not everyone will fill it out. So, at least one follow-up (a week or so later) will be important in most campaigns.

However, you do not want to bombard people who are truly not interested, for whatever reason. So, perhaps cap it at 1 or 2 follow ups.

You should also weigh up how long to keep the survey open. You might want to make it accessible, indefinitely. However, there may be a time window in light of your survey goals. In which case, make sure the survey is closed when this window passes.