As the markets improve, now is a great time to re-engage with your clients. While you are scheduling and conducting your end-of-year client reviews and 2011 client planning sessions, keep these thoughts in mind as you prepare your client meeting agendas.
Although the markets are improving, many clients are still nervous about the future of their investments and personal financial situation. Your task is to reassure people that you understand the significance of recent events, that you empathize with their concerns and that your advice is (if anything) more important than ever. Your clients trust you and want to know your overall opinion of the recession, what happened, what lessons were learned, and how these lessons will influence future decisions.
Remember to avoid jargon, maintain a positive and realistic attitude throughout your communication and limit references to other “experts”—especially those who are already in the media. Use your own voice.
Many clients have seen a decline in their portfolios but nonetheless are still on track toward their goals, requiring only minor adjustments. Others will need your help in revisiting their financial plans. If you identify and talk through a change process with concrete steps, then the client will be empowered to act, if necessary. Make sure you review past plans, so you can reinforce your earlier objectives and adjust if necessary.
For advisors who provide planning as a fee-based service that is separate from investment management, now is the time to create premium value for clients. The careening up-and-down markets are beyond your control, but helping a client to plan for the “certainty of uncertainty” is well within your control. Be sure to stress this component of your value proposition in client communications.