The client newsletter is a staple of the financial advisor’s business. It costs money and time to produce, and advisors surely worry that some unknown number of contacts are just throwing it away (or deleting it), thus diluting the value of the investment.
But fail to put it out and you have dispensed with a valuable tool that enables you to communicate with multiple clients and prospects in one fell swoop, and allows you to maintain mindshare with clients in between one-on-one appointments or phone calls.
“It allows us to continue communicating with clients versus going month to month without having any [dialogue],” says James Schwartz, a senior advisor with Strategic Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisor in Scottsdale, Ariz.
In an interview with AdvisorOne, Schwartz urged his fellow advisors to be consistent in their client communications. “Don’t miss a month, or feel you can skip a quarter or a month, because people will start looking for it.”
And not finding it will undermine your authority because clients are looking for your viewpoint, or at least a viewpoint you endorse, Schwartz adds.
“Our clients say, ‘Hey I just read this article or saw this story on TV and they were talking about the tax package. What do you think about it?’”
What the advisor thinks of an issue, and how to present that, is a key strategic question advisors confront: namely, do they write the newsletter themselves, or do they private-label someone else’s newsletter?
And if the latter, does the advisor work with a large outfit that mass-produces newsletters or does the advisor collaborate with someone who can customize the product, to help the advisor develop a consistent and unique voice?
Schwartz says his firm has no interest in the do-it-yourself approach to client newsletters.
“Writing takes a long time,” he said. “So we want to get the message out there in as efficient a way as possible.”
For Schwartz, that means using the Morningstar Newsletter Builder “because it’s reasonably priced, it’s fairly easy to assemble the newsletter and we’re able to put in a customized blurb on page 1.”
The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based advisor says his $399-per-year subscription permits him to choose from an ever-expanding library of FINRA-reviewed and non-FINRA-reviewed articles, all publicly identified as coming from Morningstar. He says stock pickers “might want a newsletter that focusses on investments, and markets and what’s going on with the budget. We like newsletters that offer articles on financial planning issues like long-term care and Social Security optimization.”
Schwartz is not bothered by the fact that the articles are seen to come from Morningstar, and is unimpressed with those who put their names on other people’s articles.
“I see a lot of attorneys doing that and a lot of other advisors doing that. Most people understand that the attorney and advisor are not writing that. That takes time.”
But to Marshall Jaffee of Jaffe Asset Management in Beverly Hills, Calif., the considerable amount of time he spends writing his own client newsletters is well worth it.
“The reason I don’t use a service is because, for better or worse, I have something to say that differs from what investors are hearing from their normal sources of information,” says Jaffe.