Planning is what enables clients to achieve their financial goals. And ultimately, planning drastically increases client satisfaction.
During the pandemic, we surveyed eMoney advisor clients, and during this time of heightened uncertainty, 85% believe clients with financial plans were more satisfied with their advisor. The survey also showed 93% of advisors felt the current environment positively affected their client relationships, and nearly four out of five said it positively impacted their ability to connect with clients.
The unexpected events of 2020 have created financial challenges; for some clients it has sped up certain life transitions affecting their retirement, career, marital status, or health condition, driving the continued need beyond one-size-fits-all financial advice.
Historically, those with higher levels of wealth and investable assets were targeted for financial planning. And while there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it does ignore large segments of the market who quite frankly have real planning needs, and who, most importantly, are willing to pay for that advice.
As an advisor, if you want to have growth in your planning business, you need to put effort toward your marketing. You can apply the same principles that make planning valuable to clients — personalization, continuous frequency and comprehensive service — to your marketing strategy.
In a recent survey from eMoney, 63% of investors said insightful and educational content that was personalized would make an advisor’s marketing stand out among its competitors. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed stated personalized content was at least very important to them. This should come as no surprise since generic information and personalized advice have distinct benefits.
In financial planning, if you don’t have a client’s full financial picture, you are limited in your scope of what may or may not impact their specific circumstances. With today’s targeted marketing capabilities, you can achieve a similar level of personalization by sharing content and proactively communicating with them around things that are relevant to them and their situation.
Advisors who do planning understand the need to revisit their clients’ financial plans at least once a year. In the client relationship there is a cycle of discovery and rediscovery that happens over and over again as the client’s needs and goals evolve.
Take a comparable lens to your marketing strategy and understand how outside of an annual meeting you can have continuous touchpoints with your client — or prospect — that play a meaningful role in building the relationship. Think about different types of communications — educational webinars, personal notes around life events, economic and market newsletters, etc. — that could help your clients and build trust.
Employing a digital presence is extremely beneficial and can certainly help engage your clients and prospective clients. In our study, 98% agreed that an advisor’s website is somewhat important to them. Additionally, more than half (59%) are open to hearing from advisors via social media. More than three-quarters (78%) of those aged 18-24 would be willing to connect with advisors via social media.
Just as clients will have different needs in their financial planning service, they also may require different approaches to connect and engage with you. Which is why having a marketing toolkit with varying capabilities can allow you to serve your clients based on the level of service they want and need.
While in-person meetings remain the preferred method of communication, our study revealed clients are becoming more comfortable with virtual engagement. Digital meetings and personalized emails trail second and third as the preferred communication. For those aged 18-24, in-person meetings and personalized email were nearly tied as their preferred method (28% versus 27%).
In regard to connecting with new clients, 42% of those surveyed reported search engines as the top chosen vehicle for how someone would start the process of researching a financial advisor. Once again, an emphasis on having a digital presence is critical to your marketing toolkit.
To support a coordinated planning and marketing approach you need technology. With a strong digital presence, and clear strategy for sharing relevant and targeted content, advisors can earn the attention of an increasing population of prospects interested in planning to generate new business and nurture existing client relationships.
Valerie Rivera is senior product marketing manager at eMoney Advisor.