According to readers of the Financial Times, the qualities clients really value in a financial adviser are the three T's – transparency, trust and tailored advice.
To coincide with FTAdviser's Top 100 Financial Advisers list, the FT conducted its own in-depth research into readers' attitudes to financial advice professionals.
More than 400 of them completed a detailed online questionnaire, revealing their likes and dislikes about financial advisers – so brace yourselves.
Without doubt, transparency was considered the key to a great relationship – and conversely, a lack of transparency was also the biggest turn off.
FT readers said they expected information about fees and charges to be "crystal clear" with many objecting to the "ad valorem" model of charging an annual percentage fee for assets under management.
"Fees should be in pounds not per cent" is how one reader put it – yet others stressed they were not afraid of paying high fixed fees if their adviser provided the other two T's – tailored advice and trust.
On the question of value for money, many of the detailed responses questioned the practice of "restricted advice" – where an adviser can only recommend products from a specific range of funds.
Some disputed whether this level of bias was really any better than the commission-driven model that the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) sought to replace.
Nothing enrages FT readers more than being treated like a number – or a numpty.
The FT's wealthy readers said they resented advisers who "did not listen" to their individual needs, who used excessive jargon, or gave the impression of knowing less about financial markets than they did (this came up a lot).
They hated the hard sell, smooth talk or being pushed into products they considered "one size fits all" – particularly managed investment portfolios.
In fact, many respondents said they preferred to manage their own, and would only turn to an adviser for more complicated and specialist tasks – such as tax planning, inheritance tax queries and pensions advice.
However, those who had found an adviser they could trust held this relationship in the utmost esteem.
When we asked "What would prompt you to change adviser?" one reader answered: "Either me or my adviser dying".
Several readers told the FT they had followed the same adviser through three or four different employers.
Similarly, most had found their current adviser through word-of-mouth referrals, often from family members, friends or fellow professionals, and were thus assured of their track record.
A final 'T' to avoid?
A Hermès tie. To be fair, only one FT reader was this specific about the sartorial choices of advice professionals. But many others remarked that those with "flashy offices", chunky designer watches or expensive sports cars parked outside were communicating the wrong values – and almost certainly charging them too much.
You can read our full report online at www.ft.com/niceadvice or in the FT Money section of the FT Weekend this Saturday.