I love the west, and my wife and I have always dreamed to live and grow our family there. Shortly after we married, we moved to Colorado Springs for a short stint before transferring to Georgia where I’ve since built a wealth management business with my business partner, Brian Pierce.
Over the past two years, our business has added clients in several states around the country and kept clients who moved away. Beyond that, we also started having virtual meetings with clients who lived or worked just down the road (via Skype or other video calling service). Yes, we send a little more paperwork through the mail if we don’t meet in person, but that’s about the only thing that’s different.
Why meet virtually? Our clients are busy, so they appreciate the opportunity to cut out travel time. We’ve also found that in growing fashion clients will shoot us a quick email with a decision they face or other feedback request rather than waiting for a formal meeting (when it’s usually too late).
Now, I’m facing a geographical relocation of my own.
After much discussion (with mentors and other key relationships) about weighing the opportunity to expand our firm in Phoenix, AZ, we finally made the announcement to our clients that I would be moving my family away from Atlanta. And soon.
Five years ago, what we’re about to attempt would be virtually impossible. Now, it will be.
Utilizing virtual services like Facetime, Join.me, Skype, paperless office, Dropbox, Blueleaf aggregation, etc, we’ll maintain engagement with plans we’re working on and investments we’re managing as if I were just down the road.
Making The Announcement to Clients
Initially we wanted to preempt the challenge that the relationship with our clients might change or the level of due diligence and customized advice might be diminished. Clients have always had full access to both Brian and I, so we had to be clear how accessible we would be going forward. In fact, we took the proactive approach by promising a greater level of interaction through leverage of additional technology like screen sharing and outfitting our office for video conferencing. Additionally, Brian made a point to reassure our clients that he wasn’t going anywhere.
After personally talking with a few key clients to share the news, we put together about a three minute video (which you can see here on YouTube) and emailed it to our client base along with a transcript of the video.
We took a positive spin throughout and highlighted all that would stay the same along with improvements to our client interaction through technology.
Here’s the actual announcement we sent out:
Catalyst Wealth Management, Brian Pierce and Caleb Huftalin are excited to announce that we will have a presence in Phoenix, AZ, very soon! Caleb looks forward to the opportunity to expand our firm out West this summer. (Then we inserted the video.)
Not only does Phoenix promise tremendous opportunity to help families there make good financial decisions through transition, almost all of Caleb’s immediate family lives in the Phoenix metro area.
While I may be physically moving to Phoenix, I’m not going anywhere! Both Brian and I will continue to work closely on every aspect of your plan regarding investment due diligence, performance evaluation, insurance planning, budget reviews, plan actions and next best steps. We will be available to answer questions and provide feedback as always and will strive to ensure that the level of service you are used to will not change in any way.
Currently we work with clients in more than five states from Georgia to Arizona. We plan to use this opportunity to leverage the most advanced virtual technology to be just as involved as ever, if not more. Through screen sharing and video services like Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts and Join.me, we’ll continue to collaborate with our clients to make quality financial decisions.
There will be several occasions where I’ll be back in the Atlanta area, but even when I’m not here, utilizing these technologies will make our time and energy as we work together efficient.
Stacey and I couldn’t be more excited about raising Levi and Micah near grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins in Arizona. Our hope is that our relationships here in the Atlanta area will continue to grow. We will miss seeing you as often as we are currently able at social and client events, but rest assured, our team stands ready to provide the very best advice and assistance for our clients.
I will continue to have local meetings in or out of the Suwanee office, and we don’t anticipate anything changing from a business stand point. Caleb will still be involved in day to day efforts, and we will meet in person or virtually as often as we normally get together.
As always, we will continue to focus on families and individuals in transition who are expanding their family, growing their income, selling a business, changing jobs, and moving from accumulation to distribution.
If you have questions or would like to talk with us further about it, we’re certainly open to chatting and receiving any feedback from you.
Let’s make it a great year together!
Caleb Huftalin, CFP®
The Effect It Had
Feedback from clients started right away via email and continued through conversations on the phone and in meetings as they came up. The response was overwhelmingly positive. In fact, we received 100% positive comments from our clients. They understood the reason for the move and showed not an inkling of concern as we recapped our strategy to continue to serve them.
So far we’ve leveraged a suite of virtual services like Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, Join.me, Dropbox and our paperless document management system. Blueleaf aggregation has been the key tool in keeping us up to date on all the assets we manage as well as those held-away. Meeting preparation has been highly productive and truly a joy since we can be proactive about proposing a change in their strategy based on what we see in their 401K or bank account balances, all visible via Blueleaf.
For our clients, Blueleaf is a portal they can log into any time of day, from anywhere, to see “how things are going”. We’ve found both extremely detail oriented “engineer-type” AND high level “give me the bottom line” clients love that they can access their portfolio information via the Blueleaf portal. Just as I can access account information from anywhere, it’s even more important that clients can receive a weekly update email or login on their computer, tablet or even smart phone for up to date information. If you’re curious about this advisor-to-client engagement tool, check it out.
As we face the onslaught of highly systematized (yet de-personalized) competition, we believe our firm stands on the cutting edge thanks to the technology we can leverage and “be-anywhere” approach to interacting with clients.
And the overwhelmingly supportive feedback we received from clients during this cross-country move is a testament to that.