Talk about the rug getting pulled out from under you. Current economic conditions are reshaping the financial industry continuously, with changes often happening overnight, and investors are nearly frozen with fear about what’s coming next. Against a backdrop of unprecedented volatility and challenging market conditions, your ability to maintain your firm’s strategic objectives while quelling client concerns has never been more important. That’s because with change also comes opportunity. Tough times like these can be the best times for well-positioned advisory firms to grow, as investors are clamoring for advisors’ objective services. Many of you are doing all the right things, including staying close to your clients and increasing focus on financial management and business planning–a trend we have recorded throughout 2008 and one that we have long advocated. This month in PracticeEdge, we offer a to-do list based on this year’s research findings. Using this list as part of your planning process can help you start your business off strong in January.
Practicing Proactive Communication With Your Clients
While communication is always important, it’s especially important during a crisis. That’s because hearing nothing usually leads clients to assume the worst. You should have a game plan for communicating key issues to clients. Be aware of your clients’ expectations and review their original goals. Those advisors who have solid relationships with their clients are more successful and have better client retention rates–the best firms lose only 3% of clients per year compared to average firms, who lose 15% of their hard-won clients each year.
Use the economic downturn as an opportunity to be better informed concerning the needs of your clients and changes in their lifestyles. Consider asking your clients whether they need to change their lifestyles based on recent economic and market events. According to our survey, more than half (52%) of advisors’ clients have to change their lifestyles due to the recent market crisis. You may be surprised how asking about this can help improve your clients’ satisfaction and the depth of relationship with you.
Review your existing communication deliverables to your clients. Make sure that you maintain frequent presence among your smaller clients through email correspondences, newsletters and all other systematic means of communication that do not consume a lot of your time. While it’s important to continue regular communication with all of your clients, save the bulk of your personal availability for your top-tier clients.