One of the biggest challenges that independent advisors face is communicating to clients and prospective clients all the services their firm and employees perform on their behalf. Back on June 30, in my blog titled “Death of the Rainmaker,” I mentioned using “client service calendars” as one way of creating client awareness—and appreciation—of what their advisors do for them throughout each year. Since then, we’ve received a number of requests for more details on what those calendars might look like.
Because advisory firms are almost continuously doing something on each client account—and with today’s technology, if an employee isn’t, a computer probably is—it’s often hard for advisors to provide the right balance of information. That is, providing enough detail that clients are sufficiently impressed with all the services that a firm provides, but not so much that it makes clients glaze over or, worse, think that you’re just making stuff up.
When most advisors attempt to communicate all the things they do for their clients, they usually come up with a list of activities performed by the firm. While better than nothing, a list fails to capture both the regularity and frequency with which many services are performed and lacks the visual impact of an actual calendar.
As you’ll see below, client service calendars don’t need to contain “too much information,” but they do have to be comprehensive enough to let your clients know that you and your firm are actively taking care of their finances throughout the year—even when they don’t hear from you.
We encourage our advisor clients to take the time to create complete calendars that include every action that needs to be taken for every client during the upcoming year. Here’s an example:
Notice the calendar reflects both increased activity at the end of each quarter, and activities that benefit all clients such as investment committee meetings and client newsletters. Firms also often include a separate list of activities they perform on a “as needed” basis, such as: alerts and/or commentaries on dramatic market events or other significant news stories; links to articles or other publications that are relevant to client finances; updates on relevant tax changes, etc.
Firms that are really on top of things include items that are specific to individual clients such as meetings with their accountant or lawyer, meetings with their children, reviews of 401(k) holdings, or trust accounts, etc.
Hard as it might be to believe, we’ve found that well-constructed client calendars will reduce the number of times clients call into the office and, very often, reduce—or even eliminate—client meetings. What’s more, a sample client calendar usually has a dramatic impact on prospective clients—significantly increasing a firm’s closing ratio.
Because most calendar items are the same for all clients, they aren’t hard to produce. Instead, they provide an easy—and very effective—way to let clients know just how much your firm does for them.