DEFENDING YOUR PROFESSIONAL INTEGRITY
Stay current on recent changes in the regulatory environment
Fidelity just released news that the firm is instituting a “mystery shopper” market research program to identify problems and gaps that may exist when a client first makes contact with an advisor. Whether it be from an in-person meeting or when a client first lands on the advisor’s website, Fidelity is throwing resources behind the project to ensure that good prospects become good clients. Gaining this outside perspective can point to image or service failings that are direct from the mouths of prospective leads.
Unfortunately, in today’s digital age, many of these first impressions are happening well before a client sits down face-to-face with an advisor. FINRA is heavily pushing BrokerCheck as the first place to look before even considering a live meeting with their advisor. In addition, every firm and advisor website are required to directly link to BrokerCheck to make that process as quick and easy as possible for the individual investor.
For the roughly 15% of advisors that have at least one customer dispute listed on their profile, this first impression may very well be the last they leave with that prospect.
There can be many ways to improve how a prospect feels when entering your office or how satisfied they may be with your client service. However, if a prospective client determines that previous customer complaints may point to bigger failings (a judgment which can be made in as little as four seconds), all of the other improvements you made will not affect that investor’s decision. With a large percentage of these industry disputes being without merit, these disclosures can be the “weak link” in an otherwise strong practice.
AdvisorLaw is a firm that only represents financial advisors and can get meritless customer dispute disclosures expunged from your BrokerCheck and CRD. If you have previous allegations on your record, set aside some time and money to invest in rebuilding your reputation and image. Although important, refining your customer service response, adding more administrative personnel, and fine-tuning which products to sell, only adds value if you can get the client to hire you in the first place.
EA, Executive Vice President
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This blog is my ongoing effort to inform and educate FINRA licensed professionals about the evolving regulatory ecosystem in which we operate.