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How to service advice clients without an SOA

How to service advice clients without an SOA

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By Tony Zhang ·
June 25 2020

How to service advice clients without an SOA

An initial financial plan doesn’t need to be the be-all and end-all, according to one adviser who has found success with a monthly retainer model.

Thabojan Rasiah, founder of Rasiah Private said on the XY Adviser podcast that this new model could change the traditional concept around the SOA.

Mr Rasiah said he had spent years diving into a high-touch, high-value advice process, which aims to produce successful clients through an in-depth onboarding process to truly understand his client before providing any advice.

Mr Rasiah said that SOAs are one of the most traditional methods which have defined the basis for advisers through the years.

However, Mr Rasiah pointed out the way the adviser industry is changing, with clients and their relationship with the adviser becoming more dynamic in the coming generations.

“From a client’s point of view, when walking to an office, they want to talk to you about goals and aspirations and receive financial advice, because the end result is so important but there is journey to that and an SOA has only been the key tool for advisers to define the relationship,” he said.

Advisers across the industry have tried different methods to differentiate across the SOA, however, making it work has been the difficult part according to Mr Rasiah.


For his firm, they have introduced a monthly fee model which has seen success from his clients.

“It depends on what the clients need. Early on in the process we ensure we paint the picture, what they want to achieve and we put it all on the table,” Mr Rasiah said. 

“We almost kind of said, let’s get rid of frontloading [and] see if we can engage and add value, then they will stay as clients.”

Mr Rasiah’s model would be on a monthly retainer basis in an ongoing arrangement, where no advice is given initially in the traditional way. This would also be on an immediate opt-out basis.

“There [are] no lock-ins, and we’ll help in the key areas and what the client wants to achieve,” he said.

“Where you really add value is when you can understand clients and know what’s important for them and respond to them [straightaway]. We are not in a rush to push them into a product.”

Mr Rasiah said the new model aimed to build a picture of the client’s financial life instead of “sticking it into an SOA document.”

“The new way is to take them up the curve, take it a bit higher, values, purposes, achievements, get the clients up to that point, and ask them if they want us to help you,” he said.

However, Mr Rasiah noted that in terms of value generation, not everyone will connect with his model, with some clients still measuring the success of the advice in terms of investment returns.

“It’s important to identify the clients if there is indeed a fit,” Mr Rasiah said. “You can’t make everyone happy, some will just care about the returns you make them.

“Getting clients to the values [and] purpose generation [piece] is very hard, but they just need a bit more work to channel that part of the conversation.”

As a result, Mr Rasiah has already started moving away from clients who want short-term gains, working with people who want to make a big difference in their lives which would provide a better fit for the adviser and the model itself.

“We were moving to a fee-based model and away from commissions as early as the ’90s,” Mr Rasiah says. 

“Working well with clients is also important. I don’t see my job as making them money, it’s about understanding what they want from life and how they want to spend their money, so they can look back after 30 years having enjoyed the journey.”

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Tony Zhang

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