3 Steps to Help Clients Sail Through Trouble

John Prendergast
Posted by | March 7, 2012

The following is a guest post from Vince Esposito and Peter J Nagle who populate Spruce Hill Capital, LLC, Guilford, CT. They partner to give timely and sensible advice to people who have money, and would like it to procreate.

 

 

 

The January 2012 cover of Barron’s said what we were all thinking as the new year rolled in: “Just Don’t Lose It!”.  Not a surprising feeling after years of negative news. Well, the world hasn’t ended but we can’t seem to shake the feeling that it might.

So, what do we do? As trusted advisors, how can we help clients (and ourselves) move forward? In a word, process. Clients don’t expect clairvoyance, they expect perspective. Your perspective is essentially embedded in the way you work with your clients, through your process. Engaging your clients in a simple version of your process can be cathartic in a challenging period like this.

The Warm Up
 Contact Clients – Don’t wait for your clients to call you.  Pick up the phone or click the mouse and start a Client conversation. Want to make them feel better?  Ask the right questions and remember you’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason. Don’t be surprised if clients tell you “I’m glad you called, I’ve been meaning to call you about…[fill in the blank]”

• Think Independently: Often the best time to add equities to your portfolio is when you feel the worst… think March 2009.  Use the opportunity of this conversation to remind yourself and clients that smart financial decisions take emotions into account but aren’t based on how you feel.

The Main Act
• Work your process: You have process precisely for times like these. Work through it with your clients. Remind them that you have a system which helps avoid emotional mistakes and oversights. At Spruce Hill Capital, LLC our tactical investing process is based on a combination of fundamental and technical analysis to help us determine when to adjust our risk exposure. Our clients feel comfortable knowing that our first order of business is always protection of principal. Walking clients through this process reinforces our value to them and helps them understand how they’re doing.

The Encore
• Extend your reach: Once you’ve taken care of clients, share your point of view with centers of influence and prospects. You don’t need an advanced social media strategy to do it. Start with the basics: Send Handwritten Notes because you can’t beat the personal touch; Expand the list of people who receive your regular client communications like a Monthly Email Commentary to more people; And even if you think you’ve got a face for radio, make Public Appearances whether it’s cable TV, local radio or your neighborhood paper. Find an outlet. Sharing your views publicly reinforces them for your clients and will help you find new clients simultaneously.

Following these simple steps will get you happier, calmer clients right away. Over time however, engaging your clients, prospects and COI’s by leveraging your advisory process will accelerate the growth of your business.

Be patient, take a balanced approach.

Thanks again to Vincent Esposito for submitting this guest post. If you’d like to write for The Scalable Advisor, please read over the guidelines for submissions and send us your pitch! We’d love to hear it.

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John Prendergast

John Prendergast

John Prendergast is the co-founder and CEO of Blueleaf. He serves on the board of WiredTiger, a developer cloud optimized databases. He is also the founder and organizer of the Lean Startup Circle Boston. In addition to his decade and a half as an entrepreneur, John spent nearly a decade as an investment banker and financial advisor.

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