Taking care of the top 15%

3 min read

By Terry Bell, Business Health

Reproduced with permission, first appeared in Business Health, 26 March 2018

What is the percentage of revenue from your top clients? In Business Health’s dealings with advice businesses across Australia and overseas, an ’80:15 rule’ (Pareto’s Principle adjusted) is relatively consistent.

Simply put, 80% (or thereabouts) of a practice’s revenue and profitability is being generated by around 15% of its clients.

The average Australian advisory practice today services 715 clients and of these, 105 are classified as ‘A’ class clients – representing 15% of clients (from Business Health’s latest industry analysis, Future Ready VII). ‘A’ class clients (however you choose to define them) are therefore likely to be 80% of your business, making them very, very important to the ongoing viability of the business. So how do you protect and/or grow this group?

Here is a hands-on, practice-level guide to taking care of the top 15%

1. Identify the attributes and characteristics of your ‘A’ class clients.

This can be done in any number of ways, for example: age, occupation, locality, market niche, type of relationship you have with them, etc. Irrespective of the criteria you choose, I strongly believe there is one attribute that must be factored into client categorisation – the level of their contribution to your business. In other words, their contribution to your revenue or profit.

Once you’ve got a clear understanding of what your ‘A’ clients look like, you’ll be well-placed to define & refine your service offer to these clients.

2. Define and refine your service offer.

Every client needs your advice across a range of areas – protection, investment, superannuation, annuities and so on. But, as your ‘A’ clients are contributing (paying) more for your services, they most likely are expecting/needing/deserving something more. At the very least, this might be more face-time with their adviser, more frequent communication and a faster/prioritised response time to enquiries. Perhaps access to new product releases, invitations to informative briefings or seminars. ‘A’ class clients must receive ‘A’ class services.

3. Remain relevant and valued by your clients.

For many clients, a visit to their financial adviser is akin to a regular medical or dental check-up, so not the most attractive proposition.

Continual reinforcement of the value and services you provide is key. A communication program should provide the framework for you to achieve this. In a down market, proactive communication provides reassurance and comfort to clients and helps to reduce business risk. When markets are up, communication positively reinforces the value of services being delivered by you.

4. Seek ‘A’ client feedback.

Less than one in three advisers seek feedback from their clients in any structured way (source: Business Health Future Ready VII). Key benefits in seeking structured and prefereably third-party feedback include knowing what your clients are thinking so you can position to prevent issues before they happen and ensuring your clients feel valued and heard, while being reminded of the services they currently and will continue to receive.

5. Ensure all staff know your ‘A’ clients.

When an ‘A’ client calls or visits the office, they appreciate the business knowing who he or she is. Perhaps you could have a welcome board, reserved parking space or coffee on arrival – all strong indicators to the client that the practice knows and appreciates them.

6. Mind the 5 year itch.

Business Health’s CATScan findings indicate that many clients begin to question their adviser’s offer around five years into the relationship. Continue to reinforce your relationship by acknowledging milestone events such as wedding anniversaries or even a change in career with congratulatory phone calls or gifts. Or you could recognise length of time as a client with a thank you call or gift, such as at five years or longer.

7. Utilise your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Everything covered above should be captured and recorded in your CRM. Once recorded, there is no reason not to use it, to help ensure your very best clients are receiving and appreciating the services they’re paying you for.

8. Keeping ‘A’ clients close – scorecard.


% of Australian practices* 


Contact A clients 10+ times per year 



Meet face to face with A clients more than once a year 



Meetings lasting longer than 1 hour 



Have a clearly documented customer value proposition 



Seek client feedback through formal survey process 



Segment client base 



Offer differentiated services 



Ask and get referrals 



Update CRM within 24 hours of each client contact 



*All statistics have been derived from Business Health

This communication has been prepared for use by advisers only. It must not be made available to any retail client and any information in it must not be communicated to any retail client or attributed to this article. This article may contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.

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