No financial advisor likes to lose clients. Clients are essential to success and precious to each advisor.

Several years ago, “Financial Advisor” magazine ran an article that hit home with me and probably many other financial advisors. It was titled “Five reasons clients rehire their financial advisors.”

The magazine surveyed more than 1,400 clients and asked them to define why they left their former advisors.

Here are the top five reasons people changed:

No. 5: Twenty-three percent said their advisor made claims that they could not deliver.

Financial advisors often make projections on a portfolio that rarely come true. If the projection is an 8 percent expected return, the likelihood of it coming in on that exact number is not likely.

Most clients will not hold the financial adviser to the “projected” return, but it should be in the vicinity over several years. If the portfolio consistently underachieves, the clients will seek advice elsewhere.

No. 4: Thirty-four percent said the advisor’s performance was low. (This goes hand-in-hand with the first reason.)

If you paint a target that’s nearly impossible to hit, you shouldn’t be surprised when you miss it.

If performance ends up anything lower than the expectations the financial advisor has cast, then don’t be surprised when clients leave.

No. 3: Forty-four percent said their advisor failed to return their phone calls promptly.

Things often are erratic in the investment world. Good advisors teach their clients about it.

The best advisors receive fewer erratic or frantic calls from clients when things are going nuts in the markets. However, advisors still need to return the calls.

No. 2: Nearly 51 percent of respondents said their advisor failed to understand their goals and objectives.

Advisors who fail to understand the importance of the fiduciary standard can expect clients to find a new advisor.

Being on the same page with risk, goal setting and clarity of market volatility is critical to long-term relationships.

No. 1: A total of 74 percent said that if their advisor fails to communicate with them, they will look for a new advisor.

No surprise here. In any meaningful relationship, communication is essential.

Advisors who establish a systematic way of staying in contact with their clients have a much better chance to retain them even when markets are volatile.

Advisors should have a conversation with clients about how much interaction they want. A system should be put in place to meet this expectation.

Communication is always a two-way street.

Both advisors and investors need to establish what they want and how they want to communicate — whether by phone, email, mail or face-to-face meetings.

Tom and John Mills are registered investment advisers and certified financial planners. Reach them at 254-0155, MillsWealth.com. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Strategic Wealth Advisors Group (SWAG), a registered investment adviser.

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