In today’s world, there is an overwhelming amount of content available to clients every minute of every day. Beyond financial advice — politics, pop culture, a friend’s status update — anything a client wants to learn is easily accessible. There is also a notion that having immediate and constant access to information through technology affects memory and retention rates among adults. While some scientists believe the emergence of technology is too recent to confirm its effect, it does prompt the question — how can advisors deliver financial planning strategies that cut through the virtual noise and are easily absorbed by clients?
The solution? Curating client communications while providing consistent advice.
By continually reinforcing a specific message that applies to their life, you are one step closer to helping your client not only absorb your advice but also apply it. For example, if a client is at an age where they are looking to buy a house, your interactions throughout this time should revolve around that topic. This can be done through in-person meetings, follow-up calls or emails.
While it is easy to give blanket advice to every client, if it doesn’t apply to the life stage they’re currently in, they will likely disregard it. Imagine if you received communication from your medical professional on how to keep your kids safe from the flu this year, but you have no children — you would probably delete or ignore the communication. One irrelevant comment could make your client tune out the entire session.
Technology’s Effect on Curating Advice
Many advisors are too busy running a business and working with clients to continually tailor individual client communications. It’s important to utilize all available tools and create a structure in which technology is doing the hard work for you.
There are three technology resources that can assist with curating information and delivering consistent advice:
- Account aggregation: Keep your financial house in order and create intelligence around a broad base of data that tracks client demographics and takeaways from client meetings.
- CRM tools: Take the time to create categories in your system around significant life events. That way, you can start to schedule the right information to share at the right time, following the discovery with the client. Use the CRM to track your conversations and include notes from your previous discussions. Make sure to check their account before connecting with them to make sure you are informed on their current situation and consistent with your previous advice.
- Artificial intelligence (AI): If you are at the stage where you can incorporate more advanced technology, AI will do the planning for you. Input as much information as you can about the client into your system, and let the machine learn based on the client’s habits.
Curated advice should not only happen over email. As a testament to the power of face time, studies have shown that face-to-face requests are 34 times more successful than emailed interactions. There are a variety of ways to approach customized financial planning — whether that be through phone calls, formalized events, or proactive outreach when a significant life event is approaching.
For example, if the client is expecting a baby, don’t send them articles on elder care, but instead, provide curated advice on why they should start a college savings plan today. On the other hand, if your firm is looking to recruit HENRYs (High Earners, Not Rich Yet), meet them where they are — throw an educational event at the local happy hour spot.
Another suggestion is to connect with experts outside of your financial planning network and conduct joint educational events with them. This will provide your (and their) clients with insights from multiple experts on important life events. For example, bring together a group of clients who you believe would benefit from advice on buying a house. Then, work with a real estate attorney to put on an event in which you both share insights on this important financial decision. By collaboratively bringing a group of clients together, you are not only expanding your prospect pool, but providing extra benefits to current clients.
At the end of the day, your clients are your clients because your advice is meaningful to them. The issue is less about how to implement more educational programs, but how to deliver meaningful advice that your client can easily absorb and act on. They appreciate the time and thoughtfulness you put into servicing their accounts. Continue to demonstrate your worth by combing through the virtual weeds and going above and beyond with your specialized advice.
As senior relationship manager for E-Trade Advisor Services, Kerry McDermott is responsible for advisor selection and due diligence process for firms in consideration for E-Trade Advisor Network.
McDermott has more than 14 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to E-Trade, she worked at Charles Schwab as senior manager of field marketing and business development sales support for Schwab Advisor Services. McDermott also served as director of investor services for an RIA group within Northwestern Mutual network. She earned her BA Communications at SUNY Old Westbury.