Over the years, interior designers, researchers, and coaches like myself, have experimented with elements that impact client engagement and buying decisions through office design, which is part of your financial advisor brand.
A traditional financial advisor’s office has a chair with a desk, and the client sits across the desk, or he/she uses a conference room to meet clients. However, the setting remains pretty much the same.
Even if a financial advisor puts thought into the design of the office, it usually does not extend beyond the type of furniture to place in the office, wall paintings, and a few other design elements.
The design of a financial advisor’s office should not only be thoroughly researched, in terms of its interior, but it should be impactful in establishing a perceived sense of professionalism and engagement.
If you haven’t given your office design much thought, this should go into your Marketing and Prospecting Plan as a strategy for this year. Part of your Value Proposition should be to put clients’ at ease and offer them trust and credibility for your services.
The Importance of the Interior Design of a Financial Advisor’s Office
Scientific evidence explains that interior office design elements and other factors like texture, smell, light, and overall environment of the room affect how your clients perceive your professionalism and how comfortable they feel in your space. When you create a more comfortable environment for your clients, it proves conducive to assist them in their decision-making process.
How well a financial advisor’s office is designed and arranged affects their ability to make decisions and give their clients an effective financial advisory experience.
It turns out that the design of the office is important for both clients and financial advisors.
Designing of a Financial Advisor’s Office for Optimal Client Engagement and Experience
Today, financial advisors can recognize what affects their clients when they visit their own offices. One of such things is the planning and proposal presentation environment that impacts shaping clients’ willingness to adopt the plan provided by the financial advisor.
This raises an important question: what should be the environment or design of the office that it positively affects clients’ behavior? Well if you’re a financial advisor and want to find out ways to give the right environment to your office space, then you’re in the right company. Let’s talk about the involvement of different factors and ways to perfect them in your interior office design.
The environment of the office space
Rarely does it happen that financial advisors understand the importance of an optimized office environment. The fact is that it goes a long way in offering convincing financial planning and counseling to clients.
Financial designation programs, such as the CFP, RICP, and CDFA, teaches financial advisors in-depth financial strategies, but doesn’t teach the importance of having the right office environment.
Financial advisors rarely perceive their office environment as a strong factor in financial planning, but it is!
A financial advisor’s office should provide comfort to clients and make them perceive a heightened sense of professionalism. It works equally for both small offices and multi-advisor firms.
Every office has three dimensions, which include physical, mental, and emotional. You need to perfect all three dimensions to win clients. Elements like the temperature of the office and light are part of the physical dimension.
The mental dimension involves the message conveyed by the advisor via art pieces, certifications displayed on the wall, and other personal objects that tell about the advisor as a person and as a professional. The last dimension is emotional, and it includes the use of colors and textures in the room.
What Does A Traditional Financial Advisor Office Look Like Vs. How It Should Be?
Traditionally, a financial advisor’s office has an executive chair at one side of the desk and two chairs across the desk where clients’ sit. Other pieces of furniture include a credenza, storage furniture like file cabinets, and lamps etc.
OK. So I admit the photo below is not so typical for financial advisors, BUT I have seen some advisory offices that were not comfortably designed, and rather messy with cords visible and too many papers lying about.
Typical adversarial office design – messy and no engagement
Advisors are peering over a computer monitor while speaking to their clients while dealing with messy technology cords and plugs. The view of this mess gets in the way of communication between advisor and client and makes for an unprofessional environment.
This type of office layout involving an office desk between the advisor and the client can be subconsciously perceived as adversarial environment.
Behind the advisor there are framed designations, some pertaining to topics that provide solutions clients are seeking. Other framed papers could be about awards for sales or GDC or some other grand achievement in selling products not beneficial for the client. Few clients find this engaging.
Set clients at ease
A more engaged office layout could be a more comfortable office, which sets clients at ease and tends to make them feel relaxed.
This can be done by re-designing the typical financial advisor conference room.
Less adversarial office design – comfort and engagement
Imagine if you will, two comfortable sofas facing one another, plus two side arm chairs, and a large coffee table.
Such an environment promotes healthy discussion and openness from the client, which aids advisors in promoting a more relaxed client service experience.
The traditional office environment may be a preferred choice for some financial advisors. Still, clients feel more comfortable and involved in the planning process when the advisor’s office has a more relaxed office environment.
A desk acts as a barrier between the client and the advisor. Removing this barrier promotes an engaging discussion between the client and the advisor.
Design Elements Needing More Attention than Others
When it comes to improving your interior office design, paying attention to the following elements is very important. That’s because these elements shape up the physical dimension of your office.
Lighting plays a big role in shaping your client’s behavior, so give this some thought. When there’s appropriate lighting in the office room, the perception of the spaciousness and competence of the space is enhanced.
Lighting plays a huge role that’s why financial advisors and other professionals are advised to employ full-spectrum lighting.
If there’s room for natural light to come into the office space, nothing is better than this. Make sure that you don’t employ fluorescent lighting in your office because it creates a washed out environment. The guests, employees, and clients don’t appreciate such lighting because it’s associated with discomfort.
The more there’s natural light, the better it’s for you and your clients. One of the reasons why appropriate lighting is advised is to make your staff feel comfortable; otherwise, it can easily hinder their productivity: the more natural light, the better. Natural light reduces depressive symptoms and facilitates open dialogue.
The area where you and clients sit together should have sufficient lighting. Make sure that the client’s seating isn’t facing the window because the outside view might distract him/her during the meeting.
Needless to say, your office space shouldn’t have any kinds of unpleasant aromas because no one likes to sit in a space with lingering odors. Many clients don’t appreciate specific aromas. Sometimes, furniture, paint, and other things in the room have a strong smell, which can’t be ignored. Specific aromas affect mood and might discourage clients from discussing their hopes and dreams with you. You never know if a person coming to your office might be allergic to colognes or perfumes, so it’s better not to use anything.
Noise and sound
Excessive sound or noise affects everyone experiencing it, and your clients are no exception. When you’re having a planning session with your client, or you are presenting an investment proposal, external noise coming inside your office can distract from your presentation. It might impact the performance of the advisor and affect the sharing of information on the client’s part.
When clients hear voices or sounds coming from outside the office, they assume that outsiders can also hear the discussion happening inside the room. This results in an unexpected fracture in the discussion happening between the client and his/her financial advisor.
Some of my clients have utilized fountains in their office space, which often masks outside noise, giving a pleasant and relaxed ambiance.
Every object in the room should have some type of texture. Clients perceive it by seeing and touching objects in the office. For making your client’s stay in your office effective and fruitful, ensure that everything in your office has some degree of texture. A worthwhile practice is to choose items that feature soft materials and have some texture on them.
This not only absorbs sound but reduces the clinical feel that a typical financial advisor office may have. Just by using texture on different sections of the office like flooring, furniture, and walls, you can turn the environment of the office space from boring to inviting.
Temperature plays a huge role in making your client comfortable in your office. If the office has a slightly lower or higher temperature, it’ll create the space unpleasant for your client. Regardless of the weather, people like to sit in an environment that’s at an appropriate temperature. If it’s hot outside, the temperature of the room should be pleasantly cold. If it’s cold outside, the inside temperature needs to be pleasantly warm.
Also, make sure that the seating is not either in front of the air vents or the sources of heat or cold. Keeping the room temperature between 69 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit with 30 to 60 percent humidity is a good option.
You should ask the client if the temperature is to their liking or not or rather allow him/her to adjust it accordingly.
Art, paintings, and decor should provide a feeling of calm. Discussing money with your financial advisor can be an intimidating topic that could lead to anxiety or displeasure.
Aim for paintings that are gentle on the eyes such as abstract impressionistic themes with a color scheme that compliments your office.
Viewing artwork that is calm and beautiful can stimulate the part of the brain that is responsible for pleasure and peace. This is what you want for your clients while they are in your office discussing the likelihood that their investments will last their lifetimes.
The color scheme of the office space also impacts the quality of sessions between client and advisor. It’s advisable to keep the color scheme of the room neutral because everyone embraces it. Certain colors might make clients uncomfortable. You can add splashes of the color to the neutral color scheme.
See this article about the psychology of color:
Final Thoughts on Engaging Financial Advisor Office Design
As the above discussion states, interior design, client management, and the environmental space of the financial advisor’s office play a huge role in shaping the client’s behavior. It doesn’t just apply to an individual financial advisor office but affects a multi-suit financial advisory firm equally.
Every financial advisor should give a well-thought interior design and environment to the office so that clients prompt the information sharing process immediately and follow the recommendations of the advisor. When it comes to the interior design of a financial advisor’s office, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Still, the following recommendations may optimize an office for professional client management and overall client experience.
First off, the interior design should appeal to the advisor and the staff. If the advisor himself/herself and the staff doesn’t find it pleasant, their productivity and attitude about work will affect in multiple aspects.
The office should convey a message through its design about who the advisor is as a person and as a professional. The use of plants, art pieces, mementos, and certificates hanging on the walls is a great way to do so.
When art pieces are displayed in a financial advisor’s office, choose pieces that are abstract or minimalist, using some texturally complex art as well.
Not every client coming into the office will have the same reaction to the color scheme being used, so it’s advised to choose neutral colors as everyone embraces them. However, splashes of colors can be added through furnishings. Sage green or seafoam can be great color splashes.
One of the essential things is the use of proper lighting. Make sure there’s enough lighting in the office, presence of pleasant aroma, and comfortable temperature. If there happens to be room for natural light, nothing beats it.
Take appropriate steps to minimize the noise coming inside your office from outside.
The overall environment and design of the office should be comfortable and professional. Making sure that you practice everything for professional client management is very important.
I hope this gives you a good idea about how to design or re-design your office into a comfortable, appealing, and pleasant interior. The design and overall environment in your office influences engagement and emotions about money and decision making and help you create the right brand for your practice.