Wharton School Program Shows Financial Advisors How to Ensure Client Loyalty in an Unstable Market

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PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 10, 2009 — Recent roundtable discussions among investors and advisors hosted by Wharton’s Wealth Management Initiative provided the genesis for a new program offered by the Aresty Institute of Executive Education at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The discussions pointed to authentic and meaningful communication as the deciding factor when investors weigh which advisors to keep. Wharton’s new three-day program, The Client Relationship: Creating and Maintaining Your Competitive Edge, will help advisors improve communication and marketing skills to build and strengthen long-term client relationships.

“The financial crisis has been a rude shock to investors, and many portfolios have tumbled a great deal,” says Wharton Professor Richard Marston, James R.F. Guy Professor of Finance, who will teach in the program and is the director of the Weiss Center for International Financial Research. “It’s an unusual time, with many clients moving from one advisor to another. Advisors are called upon to not only be more understanding of clients’ needs, but also to effectively meet those needs.”

Wharton Adjunct Associate Professor of Finance Christopher Geczy, who will teach in the program and is director of the Wharton Wealth Management Initiative, agrees with Marston. “It is a rule so old that it seems like it might be a law of physics, and it resonates in the wealth advisory business: The best ideas, services, or products may mean little if they can’t be conveyed meaningfully to clients. Moreover, research suggests that investors desire to trust their advisors and their expertise, and that the roots of trust arise in part from authentic, meaningful communication.”

Professor Geczy feels that many advisors have not given structured thought to how they approach client relationships. “Advisors have not optimized their approach or developed skills to access client thinking.”

The Client Relationship program fills that gap with sessions on finance, management, communication, and marketing. The program is one of several new executive education programs from Wharton’s Wealth Management Initiative.

“Through the program, participants will develop a more strategic orientation to their marketing practices from top to bottom, from thinking about which customers they will serve and how to serve them to what kind of brand they’d like to project in the marketplace,” says Wharton Associate Professor of Marketing Patricia Williams, who will teach in the program.

Participants also will gain an understanding of how current events affect investment choices and how to plan for the future of wealth management. They will examine their own style of relating and communicating and how that style affects not only their perspectives and interactions, but also their ability to attract and keep clients.

The program, which runs April 18-21, 2010, is designed for wealth management professionals and financial advisors seeking to distinguish themselves through a more holistic view of wealth management practice. To learn more about The Client Relationship Program, go to:  http://executiveeducation.wharton.upenn.edu/open-enrollment/finance-programs/client-relationship.cfm

Other Wharton Executive Education Programs focused on wealth management include Certified Investment Management Analyst(SM) (CIMA(R)) Certification, Investment Strategies and Portfolio Management, Managing Your Wealth: Practical Tools for Investors, and Private Wealth Management. To learn more about these programs, go to:  http://executiveeducation.wharton.upenn.edu/open-enrollment/finance-programs/index.cfm .

About Executive Education at the Wharton School
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school — is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. The most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world, Wharton bridges research and practice through its broad engagement with the global business community. The school has more than 4,900 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and an alumni network of 85,000 graduates.

Informed by in-depth, groundbreaking academic research and extensive industry experience, Wharton Executive Education programs can span anywhere from a few days to six weeks or longer. Each executive education program offers a supportive and challenging context where participants gain the skills necessary for their next level of executive development. Participants who come to Wharton from a diverse range of industries engage with faculty who are the most cited, most published faculty of all top-tier business schools. With a profound influence upon global business, Wharton faculty are the sought-after, trusted advisors of corporations and governments worldwide.

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Aresty Institute of Executive Education
Media Contact: Wendy Parsons, Director of Marketing Communications

Program Contacts:
Tamela Vieira, Director, Financial Services

Jen Gers, Director, Financial Services