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Practice Management > Building Your Business

5 Tips to Strengthen the Long-Term Advisor-Client Relationship Amid COVID-19

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Use tech to stay connected. Photo: RA2 Studio/Shutterstock

In these times, some things aren’t within our control, but some important things are. Decisions made by municipalities and individuals to practice social distancing in the face of the COVID-19 situation will flatten the curve in their communities and countries.

We’ve already seen extraordinary measures from our banking customers that have pledged to waive fees and keep liquidity available to businesses and consumers.

Now, as offices temporarily close and financial advisors must work from home (just like us), it’s imperative that they remain easily reachable by clients — especially given market turmoil — in addition to proactively reaching out to reassure clients that their policies and portfolios are being closely monitored.

It’s been heartening to see the proactive measures that advisors are taking to quell client fears with a human touch during these turbulent times. We’re seeing unprecedented levels of activity over our platform, and clients are overwhelmingly grateful in their responses as retirement plans, dream vacations, and children’s college plans are all at stake.

It is always important for advisors to build stronger relationships with clients, but as they face uncharted waters ahead, here are five ways advisors can continue to strengthen the advisor-client relationship and deliver critically important communications:

1. Remind them you’re open for business.

Advisors need to make it abundantly clear that they are still working just as hard as ever, even if they can’t meet clients face-to-face. Texting, mobile calls, video calls — they are all key.

It is also essential to update local advisor and branch web pages with hours of operation, mobile phone numbers and office closure information.

2. Leverage all communication channels when call demand is high.

In these uncertain times, clients are frantically calling. The desire to know about their portfolios is far greater than advisors’ call capacity. We’re now seeing advisors (versus corporate) sending proactive bulk-texts and emails to successfully deflect and balance out inbound call volume.

Firms like TechGirl Financial have taken steps to create a client resource page, with a direct video message from advisor Kim Gaxiola, CFP, customized content on Instagram, a podcast and educational webinars.

Each communication method has not only been invaluable in maintaining a strong connection with clients, prospects and professional partners, but engagement levels are at new heights, resulting from messages that are confident, empathetic and pragmatic on what is happening and what’s to come. The key is to be proactive.

3. Provide a steady and compliant stream of email and social media content.

It’s important to provide a steady drip of updates to keep clients continuously informed. In addition, it will be important for advisors to adhere to the texting and social content policies their firms put forth.

With so much misinformation floating out in the ether on the latest pandemic, it can be challenging to weed out what is truly appropriate and compliant content to share.

Firms may consider leveraging solutions that offer an intelligent, modular set of pre-built lexicon lists that align with firm, industry and federally mandated advertising regulations are helping advisors deliver the right content.

At the same time, it helps the respective firms mitigate their advisors’ risk, in turn protecting the overall brand reputation.

To determine the best-approved content to leverage while providing comfort in these times, advisors may want to consider topics spanning general market outlook, sharing uplifting thoughts, the company’s financial strength and most importantly, the advisor’s personal commitment to the client.

In all cases, be sure to communicate with empathy and reassurance. Advisors must be vigilant not to come off as self-serving.

4. Build an engagement playbook.

Advisors should consider segmenting clients and creating strategic engagement plans with each category. For instance, sending custom messages to those with major losses and those with moderate to low losses; those retiring soon versus those with long time horizons.

Don’t treat each client as the same, but do find ways to efficiently engage your entire book.

5. Adapt and adjust your business continuity plan.

Finally, both enterprises and practices need to be prepared to move quickly to ensure their teams have all the tools they need to reach clients. Many firms’ business continuity plans likely didn’t include steps that would prepare for the scale of the challenge we’re facing, so finding ways to aggressively adapt and adjust in real time is paramount.

It is precisely during these extraordinary times when our customers and their best advisors and agents demonstrate true value with their clients.

We continue to help firms accelerate their deployments so that more of their advisors can establish critical communication channels, such as compliant mobile calling and texting, with their clients during this unsettling time.

It is a defining moment for all industries, but particularly for advisors on the front lines as they continue to connect with their clients in the moments that truly matter.

Clara Shih is CEO and co-founder of Hearsay Systems. Clara Shih is CEO and co-founder of Hearsay Systems.


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