Q. How do you develop meaningful ways to connect with clients – in good times and in bad?
A. Thirty percent of consumers in the U.S. have expressed they want more communication from financial institutions regarding the economic crisis, specifically. What can advisors do to better communicate with boomer clients about what’s going on?
Communication is one of the simplest, yet most powerful tools advisors have to strengthen and grow their relationships with clients, especially during turbulent times. But a monthly statement or a phone call here and there isn’t enough to build the kind of client relationship that will endure challenging markets. Instead, advisors need to develop meaningful ways to connect with clients and make communication a priority — in good times and in bad.
Because research shows that how you communicate is just as important as what you’re saying, even the truest, most sensible messages can fall on deaf ears if they’re ill-timed and ill-delivered. The following are a few things that are critical to communicating with clients effectively:
1. Focus on goals. When it comes to investments, performance is important, but what really resonates with clients is how investments impact their goals and needs. Frequent communication (and re-evaluation when necessary) about clients’ goals will help drive productive discussions and diminish impulsive urges clients may have. In the end, it’ll force your client to realize what’s really important instead of succumbing to the paranoia of market chatter. We’re hearing from advisors that the last few months have been an opportune time to discuss and reevaluate clients’ goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. By focusing on the full wealth picture, negative performance numbers of the last year aren’t the only thing clients focused on.
2. Proactivity is key. Whether they come from the media, the web or the water cooler, all of the economic and financial predictions and media hype swirling around are enough to worry any investor. To be a trusted advisor in this environment means you need to communicate with clients regularly and proactively so the rumor mill doesn’t get to them first. Even if your client’s not the type to panic, demonstrating that you’ve always got their business top of mind can help keep your relationship on solid ground. To make this a more manageable part of the process, most successful advisors have a year-long communications calendar with topics, dates, formats and responsibilities.
3. Variety is the spice of life. With technology options today, consumers want to consume information in different ways, so explore multiple formats for communication. We recently helped advisors create videotaped commentaries, featuring the advisor discussing trends in the financial markets. The video lives on a website or can be blasted out to an entire client and prospect base by email. Another great tactic is hosting a breakfast/lunch/late day seminar with clients to discuss what’s going on in the markets. It provides a relaxed setting in which clients can interact with you and others like them about big picture issues they’re facing.