Remember the old Syms clothing store television commercials in which company founder Sy Syms would emphatically state, “An educated consumer is our best customer”? You can borrow a page from this renowned clothing purveyor’s marketing strategy as you consider the connection between educating your clients and the reasonableness of their expectations of both you and the market.
Consider this key finding from the most recent AdvisorBenchmarking study: While more than half (62%) of the advisors surveyed feel that clients’ expectations of the market are reasonable, 37% believe that their clients have either unreasonably high or low expectations. Such a disconnect indicates that advisors need to better manage their clients’ expectations. “The management of clients’ expectations is a function of education,” according to Mark Balasa of Balasa Dinverno & Foltz LLC, and the survey results seem to paint the same picture. Among the 33% of advisors who rated their clients’ expectations as unrealistically high, 60% of them spend more time educating these clients about alternative investment products. These advisors, like Sy Syms, believe that an educated client is a more reasonable one, so time spent educating clients is a worthy investment. A client who is knowledgeable about the market and alternative investment vehicles may be less likely to panic during a dip, or sell at the first hint of a rise. As time goes on, these clients are much more likely to let go of their “unrealistically high” expectations and become more grounded in reality.
Getting to know your clients
Understanding your clients’ investment goals and risk tolerance is a given when creating their portfolios. But let’s take the “know your client” mantra one step further. Do you know which products they prefer? Do you know what they think of your service? Do you know how often they like to meet with you to discuss their portfolio? Do you know which services they might like you to add? Do you know what your clients have in common with each other? Surprisingly, many advisors don’t know the answers to these questions and may be missing the opportunity to expand their business and better meet client needs.