Since the start of this year the reputation of financial planning has been battered by the Royal Commission. Control of the messages about the very real and significant benefits of financial advice has been wrested from the industry’s hands and is now being dictated by the inquiry and commentary on its public hearings and interim report. More will follow in February when the inquiry releases its final report and recommendations.

Communicating with clients effectively has always been important, but never more so than it is now, when the loudest voices belong to those who are criticising advisers and the services that they deliver.

But during the course of the Professional Planner/CoreData Future of Advice research we’ve come across a number of examples of just how easy it is to misjudge the effectiveness of communications, and to assume clients are getting the messages advisers want them to hear, when in fact they are not.

In one case, an advice firm had a number of high-net-worth clients walk out the door, but it didn’t know why. The firm thought it was in regular contact with them, and that it was providing good service.

At the request of the advice firm, CoreData contacted a number of the clients, and the reason they gave for leaving was simple: they felt like the advice firm never talked to them. And to make matters worse, each of the clients had gone to other advisers, where they thought they’d receive better communication and feel more valued.

Anecdotes like this underline the simple fact that good communication is in the eye of the beholder. What you might regard as clear, concise and regular communication with clients simply might not be registering with them at all. So, if you’re going to do it, it’s best to do it well.