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Portfolio > Asset Managers

12 Timely Topics for Client Conversations

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We know client contact is important. When you reach out, clients know you are paying attention. You are thinking about them and their holdings. We call for portfolio reviews. Sometimes we call about suggested changes in the portfolio. We want to avoid sounding like we are making a sales call, yet feel “I was thinking about you” might sound like a flimsy reason to call a client. What would get their attention? Engage them? Have them feeling they learned something when they hung up the phone?

12 Things to Talk About

Here are a dozen reasons you could be calling. Portfolio reviews and rebalancing asset allocation are so obvious, they don’t even make the list.

1. The coronavirus. There have been lots of disaster movies out there. TV plots, too, about the spread of a virus. Now your client hears what’s happening in China. The stock market pays attention. Your client wonders what a serious virus in one of the world’s biggest economies means for their portfolio.

Your firm has an opinion. Check out their research. Share it. Have there been similar situations before? What happened? Bear in mind every drug company in the world is probably trying to come up with something that can help. China has the ability to take steps to minimize and confine contagion that would be virtually impossible in the US.

2. The Secure Act. The impeachment and the Australian bush fires gobbled up lots of TV airtime. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, affecting retirement in the U.S., was passed almost unnoticed in the hubbub.

Is it relevant to your client? A lot depends on their age and employment situation. Some clients should be told why it’s relevant to them. Others should be told you’ve checked it out and it doesn’t affect their situation. It shows you are on the ball.

3. 2019 taxes. It’s that time of year. Do they have everything they need to turn over to their accountant? Do they do their taxes on their own? Have they made their retirement plan contributions? When will they be filing?

Taxes are on people’s minds. They want to get them out of the way with as little fuss as possible. It’s annoying when the one reporting statement they are missing comes from your firm. You are keeping ahead. If they are missing (or have lost) something, it’s likely they can download a copy from the firm’s website.

4. Their accountant. They likely offered some advice. Your fees are probably pretty transparent if you utilize managed money and fee-based accounts. Does your client have other accounts? I wonder what she said about them?

Did their accountant offer advice on minimizing taxes? Did they suggest consolidation? Did they ask how often the client’s advisors are in touch?

5. The economy. It’s been the longest bull market anyone can remember! Interest rates are low. Your client likely sees construction all around their neighborhood. Lots of “Help wanted” signs too.

Your firm has an opinion about the economy. Ask your client for theirs. Share the firm’s. Are there any action clients should be taking?

6. Exposure to the stock market. If your client is invested in equities, they probably think they are brilliant. This is a good time to look at how much of their portfolio is in stocks and where they are on the risk scale.

It’s a reality check.

7. Interest rates. Clients who can’t remember a bear market probably have to think hard about when interest rates were even mildly attractive. We know things run in cycles, but this period of low interest rates has been pretty long.

What is your firm saying about interest rates? What does your client think will happen? What are they getting on their interest earning assets?

8. Currencies – Why it’s a good time to travel. Years ago, I felt the British pound (GBP) often traded in a range from $1.50 to $1.65. When the pound was below $1.50, the country was on sale. When it topped $2.00, that was a very expensive trip. As of Frb. 4, the pound is about $1.30. This might be a good time to head across the pond.

You are talking about a financial issue in the context of your client enjoying their leisure time.

9. How are the kids doing? They grow up so fast. Everyone likes talking about their children. Ask. Stop talking and listen.

Asking about their children lets them know you care about them as people, not just as clients. They will likely ask about yours, too.

10. Last year’s winners. The Dow Jones industrial average returned 23.76% in 2019. That was some year! The S&P did even better. Some sectors turned in stellar returns. Was your client adequately represented at the party?

Talking about sectors lets them know you do more than look at the broad index.

11. New managers. Your client uses separately managed accounts. Many firms has often put lots of thought into who gets included on the list. Managers sometimes get dropped if the analyst team changes dramatically or there’s style drift.

Let your client know their managers are still considered good. Tell them about new managers brought into the fold.

12. Retirement. Has your client changed their outlook? Are they thinking of working longer or retiring earlier?

They may want your opinion concerning their options. Enjoying a comfortable retirement is a dream for many people. Let them talk about their dream.

These should all be pleasant conversations. They should show you are paying attention and consider them as a person, not just a client.

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