How Blueleaf Put Advisor Katie Stokes in the WSJ

New software can be thrilling to learn about, fun to try, turn out to be “exactly what you’ve been waiting for” and change your business for the better.

This is NOT how Katie’s story started.

Effortless Client Communications

I called Katie Stokes, CFP®, Director of Financial Planning at J.E. Wilson Advisors, to say thanks after she raved to The Wall Street Journal about her Blueleaf.

But the conversation went beyond that, into Katie admitting that she found one of the most innovative features of the platform to be “completely counterintuitive”. She was against using weekly email feature altogether.

But then things changed.

Here’s how the interview went.

 


From Dislike to Love

Katie: I heard about the weekly email feature and didn’t like it. Neither did my boss. It’s probably the one we fought [you at Blueleaf] on the most.

As financial planner, we’re always telling people “long term, long term, long term” and then we’re sending them an update every week?! It felt completely counterintuitive.

But the reality is, it works. After all, it’s not like every single client looks at it every single Sunday. It’s there if they need it, and they like that.

And now the weekly email is our favorite feature.

Blueleaf weekly email

CM: Awesome. We hear that all the time. What made you try it despite your hesitation?

Katie: That came down from my boss. He had a conversation with John, the Blueleaf CEO, and felt convinced to try it out.

 

Clients see things on CNBC about how badly the market is doing that week.

Then they get their weekly email update and see that in the grand scheme of things, they’re doing just fine.

“I’m so glad we did. They totally love it”

Almost every single time someone comes in they say, ‘I really appreciate those emails.’

Blueleaf keeps me connected with each client, automatically, and weekly.

If a client emails me, it’s almost always a reply to the weekly email. Almost all of them come from that. And it’s often not at all related to it!

CM: That’s powerful. What’s the nature of their response?

Katie: Everything. Everything. It runs the gamut…

Many times they just thank me for it – “Thank you so much for sending these.” Sometimes it’s a quick remark on the email itself – “Oh wasn’t that a strange week!”

Or they’ll remember to update me on something in their life: “My daughter’s getting married and we need money for a wedding.” It’s completely random stuff.

Rarely do I get a direct email from a client anymore. Almost all of them take the weekly email and hit reply.

It’s the way they connect to me.

“We don’t want people to forget about asking us if they DO have questions”

The Blueleaf Weekly Email puts us in the spot to say “Hey, we’re here if you need us,” so we don’t have to call people just to check in and remind them we’re here to help. The weekly email does that for us. (We do full financial planning, so we do meet with clients regularly, but still, it keeps us even more top-of-mind.)

“It’s been a nice conversation particularly with new clients and small clients. “Hey, you get this wonderful reporting from us! Aren’t we awesome?!” … But we don’t have to do anything. Our Blueleaf platform handles it all for us”

Here’s how Katie put it in the Wall Street Journal

“I think we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that a quarterly report is a way to maintain communication with our clients. The problem is that in general, our client isn’t actually reading it. So in 2013, we did away with our quarterly report.

We now use an online platform to provide and deliver information about our clients’ portfolios. Using this software, clients can access the same information they were getting in their typical quarterly report: returns, allocation, holdings, realized gains and losses. But rather than reading–or more likely, throwing out  – a paper account of outdated information about their investments, clients can now follow it digitally, in real-time.

The kind software also allows us to synthesize that account information and deliver it in a weekly email that summarizes the client’s portfolio performance. Initially we were worried that providing that information too frequently might scare clients and generate a flood of frantic phone calls.

However, we’ve found that it had the opposite effect: Seeing the movement of their own portfolio helps contextualize the movement of the market. Clients can see that just because stocks went down a certain percentage, it doesn’t mean that their portfolio suffered equivalently.”

Not a Blueleaf user?

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See your clients’ excitement when they log into Blueleaf and get their complete financial picture in one easy-to-understand view.

Receive their praise when they start getting their weekly emails.

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Carolyn McRae Carolyn is Blueleaf’s in-house marketing guru. She writes on The Blueleaf Blog to make advisors’ lives easier, offering practice management and client engagement tips where and when they’re useful. Outside of the Blueleaf offices, she can be found running a 10k or cooking her famous chili. Chat LIVE with Carolyn on Twitter @BlueleafAdvisor!