Do you re-evaluate what you offer your clients periodically to ensure that you are still meeting their expectations? If not, given today’s increasingly competitive environment, you risk losing your clients to another financial advisor.

“It would be naïve to assume that your competitors are not targeting your clients,” says Larry Distillio, assistant vice president, practice management, at Mackenzie Financial Corp. in Toronto. “You therefore have to build walls around them.”

The most effective way to find out if you are doing a good job is to ask those who know best —your clients. The key, Distillio says, is to ask the right questions and listen attentively.

Distillio suggests you start by asking your clients these four basic questions to determine whether you are meeting their needs:

1. “Why did you choose me as your advisor?”
Ask clients, especially newer clients, why they decided to work with you.

In many cases, clients might have come to you through referrals or because of your reputation. Whatever the reason, let your clients reaffirm the basis of their choice or, as a worst case, let them tell you they made a bad decision.

Another way to frame this question is: “If you had to pick a new advisor, what would you look for?” The answer to this question will tell you whether you are providing the services your clients want.

2. “Am I meeting your expectations?”
“You should never take it for granted that you are meeting your clients’ expectations,” Distillio says.

You might not get the answer to this question that you want to hear, but your goal is to find out if — and where — you are falling short. Clients listen to what their neighbors, friends and colleagues say about what they get from their advisors. Information from these sources, and the media, can affect their expectations. So, you must also ask: “Have your expectations changed?”

3. “What could I do differently to be a better advisor?”
Ask questions that may force you to rediscover and re-evaluate what you do, Distillio says. Another question you could ask along these lines is: “Other than investment returns, what’s important to you in our relationship?”

As a part of this feedback process, you might wish to ask separate questions about various categories, such as client service, account statements, communication and your website. Then, get clients’ feedback on what you do well and where you could make improvements.

4. “Would you recommend me?”
Find out whether your clients would endorse you to their friends, family members and colleagues. Ask for reasons for their answer — whether it is “yes” or “no.” Recognize that clients have different expectations and that their answers might vary.

The answers to this question will give you a good picture of your strengths and weaknesses. You can take appropriate action to implement change.

Beyond this exercise, Distillio says, you can establish a client advisory board, a small group of clients who meet periodically to provide feedback to you about the service you are providing.