Embracing the sting: How negative feedback can be the key to success

All financial advisers want to provide the best service possible to their clients and most do an excellent job.  Indeed, Elevation data shows that 99% of clients would consider recommending their adviser. However, even with the best intentions, not everything goes as planned. From time to time, you may receive average or even negative feedback about your service.

While this feedback can be hard to hear, it can be one of the best tools to help you grow and improve.

In this article, we’ll explore how to turn negative feedback into positive results and share top tips to gather feedback from clients.

Why it’s important to seek out constructive feedback

Feedback, especially constructive feedback, is essential for personal and professional growth. It provides a valuable opportunity to learn, improve, and refine your approach. Not only this, but it demonstrates a commitment to excellence. Clients who see that you listen to feedback and make changes as a result will reward you by being more engaged with your business. We encourage VouchedFor advisers to position requests for client feedback as a commitment to delivering brilliant service, rather than a favour from clients.  This helps drive an average response rate of 45% – much higher than most client surveys. 

How to reframe negative feedback and put it into positive action

Receiving negative feedback can be demotivating. Here are three steps to make the process less daunting.

1. Don’t take it personally. Remember that feedback is about the client’s experience of your service, not you as a person.

2. Try to understand the feedback. Is there a pattern or theme emerging from the feedback you’re receiving? What might be true within the feedback that you haven’t been aware of?

3. Act. Determine changes you could make based on the feedback you’ve received, and implement them

Treating every piece of feedback – whether positive or negative – as an opportunity to learn, repeat or iterate, can help shift your practice from good to great.

How to get the best feedback

Getting the best feedback requires a strategic approach. Here are our top tips on gathering client feedback:

Ask the right questions
Better questions lead to more valuable feedback. Align questions to the four outcomes of Consumer Duty to help shape the service you offer. For example, instead of asking, “How satisfied were you with our service? ask, “How clear did you find our correspondence? Or “How much do you feel on track to achieve your goals?”.
Our enhanced client survey, Elevation, has been developed by testing hundreds of different questions over thousands of client reviews to find those that give the most insight. For example, we initially asked “Was the adviser clear about their fees?”; 97% of clients said yes. When we asked “How do the adviser’s fees work?”, and gave simple multiple-choice options, only 83% could answer. 

Ask in the right way
How you ask for feedback is as important as what you ask. Asking clients in an environment which feels comfortable and safe will help them respond honestly. Independent surveys are a great way to remove behavioural biases while getting the feedback you need.
Sharing how you use the feedback – and why it’s important – also helps. VouchedFor advisers and Elevation members get a high response rate to feedback requests because clients see that they benefit from the feedback process.

For example, advisers at IronMarket Wealth, which has been an Elevation member firm since August 2022 respond to all feedback personally, and have seen a 69% response rate to feedback requests in 2023 so far.

Ask regularly
Asking for feedback should be a regular part of your process, not something you do once a year. We recommend asking for feedback after an initial meeting with a prospective client, after an initial client meeting, and after an annual client review.
Emphasise the importance of feedback in every client meeting and piece of correspondence. Remember, regular feedback allows you to adjust quickly before any issues escalate.

Make it a part of your process to ask everyone
Don’t just ask for feedback from your happiest clients or those who you think are more likely to provide positive feedback. Ask for feedback from all your clients. This way you’ll get a more accurate picture of the client experience you are offering and be able to make meaningful improvements that benefit everyone.

Rob Heath, Director of Wealth at IronMarket Wealth, encourages this philosophy at his firm – “it’s fairly simple to maintain a 5* experience when you only request testimonials from [clients] that you know will rate you in that way…BUT you won’t improve with that mentality.”

Tell clients about the changes you’ve made
To avoid “feedback fatigue”, make a point of telling clients what you’ve done as a result of their feedback. This will make them more engaged and increase the likelihood of them providing feedback in the future.

Hannah Cowell, Independent Financial Adviser at 2plan Wealth Management, and a VouchedFor adviser since 2016 responds to all client reviews personally, and has seen her business grow largely through organic client referrals.

Embracing feedback to drive positive results takes effort and a commitment to continuous improvement. Whilst it can be uncomfortable to seek constructive feedback, it’s the only way to improve. Acknowledging the issue, avoiding excuses, taking ownership, and making positive change will ensure your business is built on strong foundations for the future.


Elevation is an enhanced client survey from VouchedFor.  It uses client feedback to drive business growth.  Powered by 250,000 clients’ feedback, Elevation shows advice firms and advisers the specific actions they can take to meet the Consumer Duty and drive revenue growth.

Elevation offers completely private feedback, industry benchmarks, and a real-time Consumer Duty Report.  That’s why more than 1,000 advisers from leading advice firms have chosen Elevation as their preferred survey solution for Consumer Duty.  

To find out how Elevation can help you, or if you’re interested in getting content to help you meet your Consumer Duty, contact elevation@vouchedfor.co.uk

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