There may be nothing more important to a financial advisor’s practice than establishing effective communications with clients – both current and future ones. Ironically, the technology age in which we live has not necessarily made that critical task any easier. For example, the act of conveying information to someone is now very easy and quick to do thanks to the myriad devices, apps and channels that seem to increase in number with each passing week. But that is NOT the same as effectively communicating.
Advisors need to remember that financial planning and investment advising are highly personal activities, so the advisor’s personality is as often just as important as the advice that is provided. Certain clients may even demand a higher level of personal attention than others.
We’ve compiled some solid suggestions around important areas that we hope will provide some food for thought for independent financial advisors interested in continually improving their client interactions. A summary is provided along with the link to allow a deeper review of each. Registration may be requested for full access to some of the articles.
The 5 Traits of Great Client Service – Think Advisor
In this article, Angie Herbers writes “…we believe that client service is the “heart” of successful independent advisory firms: client service forms the impression that clients have a firm, and great client services drives the referrals that create firm growth.”
The traits listed for people who interact most successfully with clients are that they are emotionally intelligent, accepting, conscientious, self-reflective and solutions-oriented. The writer makes the case that a firm’s growth depends on referrals and that high-quality client service helps drive referrals.
Best Practices in Client Communication for Financial Advisors: Nerd’s Eye View
We’ve called attention to Michael Kitces thought-leadership in other posts, and find this one valuable as well. Here he discusses a study around “Solving the Communication Matrix for Financial Advice Practices” with an examination of one-to-one personal communications and one-to-many communications.
Kitces notes “The results suggest that while meetings still dominate as a primary mode of communication, there is a great deal of variability about where those meetings should occur (in advisor’s office or elsewhere), how formal they should be, and where email, phone calls, and other communication plays a role. And notably – though perhaps not surprisingly – there are material differences in communication preferences amongst Baby Boomer, Gen X, and Gen Y clients.”
Four Rules for Better Communication with Clients – Financial Planning
“Communicating with clients is one of the most critical aspects of any financial planner’s practice,” argued pioneering planner Harold Evensky in this article from Financial Planning, “The more that [you] are clear and upfront with what [you] believe, the more likely it is you’ll keep the client.”
Here are the key take-aways for client conversations shared at a 2015 financial planning conference, which focus on people, process and philosophy:
- Start General, then Go Specific
- Help Clients Prioritize
- Talk Frankly About Your Investment Philosophy
- Don’t Run When Markets Shake
Taking a “people first” approach when developing a client communications strategy will serve your business well over time. We suggest investing some time thinking about this important area and how your practice might be able to improve.