From the September 2010 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

September 1, 2010

The High-Performance Coach: Ten Ways to Engage Clients Now, Part 1

How top advisors are re-engaging with clients at a tenuous time

Recently, an advisor client of ours (an independent advisor with over $2 million in annual revenues) received the advisor equivalent of a "Dear John" letter. You may be familiar with the wording:

"Thank you so much for everything you've done to help our family. However, we have decided to head in a new direction and move our account..."

The advisor had little inkling that the breakup was coming. This particular client had never called or raised their hand asking for more service. There was absolutely no indication of any level of dissatisfaction. Moreover, (and this is the really frustrating part) the advisor strongly believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is best qualified to help this client.

Of course, when the advisor received this out-of-the-blue e-mail, she issued the "All hands on deck" order to her team. Jumping into the water herself, the advisor became the lifeguard, doing everything possible to save the account. The unhappy end to this story is predictable. Despite the advisor's best efforts, the account left anyway. Although it was over for now, the reflection for learning with regard to how to create and preserve excellent client relationships had just begun.

So why does it matter now more than ever to re-evaluate the client engagement model? Advisors tell us and the experts agree that the baby boomers themselves are re-evaluating everything--their retirement, their financial situation, their lifestyle--and their financial advisors! So what's an advisor to do? Many of the advisor clients we are currently coaching are peeling the onion back on their own advisory practices and determining whether they are executing and partnering effectively with their clients in providing client service that exceeds their highest expectations. Moreover, they are engaging in larger conversations with their clients.

What Is Client Engagement?

As we work with high-performing teams, we consider client engagement to be the commitment that advisors make to interact with their clients at every level. To be the most effective wealth advisor you can be, as well as a partner to your clients, you must be the trusted advisor your clients call first when they experience a financial crisis or have an important wealth decision to make. In fact, they should think of you when any crisis arises, regardless if it is financial or not.

Engaging in a larger conversation could mean any one of a number of things regarding what matters most to your clients, including:

Ray Sclafani is founder and president of ClientWise LLC (www.clientwise.com), a full-service executive coaching firm that helps its clients optimize growth, maximize revenue, and manage risk. He can be reached at ray@clientwise.com.

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