How can an RIA build relationships and create community while increasing client loyalty and brand equity in your firm? One important way is to plan thoughtful, well-organized client appreciation events.
My wealth management firm, Private Ocean, has held a wide variety of client appreciation events over the years, from educational seminars with speakers, high-end dinners and even a chartered cruise. What’s made the biggest impact, however, is our annual summer picnic. Now in our 8th year, we’ve continuously upped the ante, starting as a small gathering in a park to a full-fledged celebration at a winery with entertainment, food, and even face painting and exotic animals for the kids. This past year we had over 200 people attend, including our staff and their families.
If you’re wondering why we make the commitment to host these events, it’s because the ROI of our client appreciation campaigns speaks for itself.
Deepening Relationships Beyond the Boardroom
In a 2012 survey of 390+ financial service professionals by ByAllAccounts, an account aggregation firm, 81% of advisors reported thaty they spend most of their time on client management, communication and service. That means that for all the time spent on back-end work and reporting, we are mostly focused on keeping our clients satisfied and informed. So while our work involves managing our clients’ finances, our goal is to help them live fuller lives.
Client appreciation events help convey this all-important message to your clients: that they’re more than just accounts and assets to your firm. They are appreciated, respected and, probably the highest compliment of all, they are people you’d hang out with on a Saturday afternoon and introduce to your family. The trust and loyalty that you can build through these events is measurable and yet immeasurable, and it will help create long-term, sustained growth for your business.
Bridging the Gap between Boomers and Millennials
Looking for a way to reach next-gen clients? Invite your clients’ family and friends to attend your events. There’s no faster way to make a good first impression than when your clients are happy, relaxed and personally engaged with your firm. In the casual setting of a company picnic, your clients’ friends can become referrals and their children and grandchildren can become future clients. Build the relationship beyond the client to their personal network, and you’ll establish the firm as a trusted family resource for generations to come.
It may sound hard to believe, but being relatable and approachable will often supersede your subject matter expertise as a firm.
Rewarding and Validating Your Employees
Client appreciation events aren’t just for your clients. They give your team a front-and-center reminder of why they work so hard all year. These events build powerful connections with your team and the clients they serve that brings out the best in both while easing any tensions that may have developed over time. Moreover, face-time with happy clients is incredibly rewarding, and we’ve found that our team looks forward to our company picnic as much as our clients do.
So here are my five tips for promoting successful client events:
- Create an Events Page on Your Website
Your events are an extension of your firm’s identity and they demonstrate your culture. Listing them on your website gives a surfing prospect or referral a better overall picture of your firm.
- Cover Events in Newsletters
Include information about upcoming events in newsletters and include an easy way to RSVP. After an event, include a recap article with photos and quotes that give your clients a sense of community.
- Put a Stamp on It
Old fashioned, yes, but you know your clients. In addition to email invitations, be sure to send a letter invite to those clients who you know will respond more positively to traditional invitations.
- Promote through a Client Portal
At Private Ocean, our portal features an “Announcements” section which we use to help communicate and promote upcoming events. We post photos from previous years and include a list of activities to entice clients to attend and bring their families.
- Client Meeting Reminders.
Meeting with a client? Be sure to include a reminder for the advisor or client service rep to invite the client to an upcoming event. It sends a positive message and encourages clients to take advantage of what your firm offers outside of the office.
Client appreciation events are a worthwhile investment not only in your clients, but also in the well-being of your firm. You are building community while keeping connected with clients and ensuring new client acquisition opportunities through a memorable experience, which can ultimately be repeated every year with great anticipation and buzz.
If you are still not doing at least one client appreciation event each year, why not?