Clients are looking for guidance. If you don’t provide it, they will find it elsewhere. Here’s the thing: most advisors believe that a steady stream of information only drives more fear. The truth is that receiving clear, simple, consolidated information about one’s money on a regular basis makes people feel better, calmer and more in control.
Advisors that provide client-centric communications are better positioned to maintain positive relationships with clients because they can keep those clients on-track to achieve their long-term goals. Here’s a look at how to employ a communications strategy that does just that.
Provide the right kind of information
Incomplete and inaccurate information leads to uninformed decisions, adding to the stress that clients already feel. Providing the “right kind” of information — information that cuts through the noise and delivers personalized, sound advice — builds trust and incentivizes clients to turn to you when market chaos strikes. The worst thing you can do is ask your clients to ignore statements and stick their heads in the sand. The second worst thing you can do is provide insufficient or incoherent information.
Hint: Don’t think of this as marketing. It’s precisely the type of client service your clients signed on for.
Automate the flow of information
You’re an advisor, not a Tier 1 media producer. The good news is you don’t have to be the latter to hold clients’ attention. Technology enables advisors to automate financial updates to their clients in a way that keeps them top of mind, despite the media mayhem.
The key to automating the flow of information is to find the right balance in the type of information you send and the frequency at which you send it — and to tailor it in a way that delivers your personal touch. Yes, branding matters, but it’s a secondary consideration to the content included in your financial updates.
The goal is to position yourself as an authority that clients can turn to when financial turmoil — or good old-fashioned questions — arise. Following a weekly or monthly cadence can ensure that you provide a “tap on the shoulder” to clients to remind them you’re here to help. Automation allows you to do that in a quick and easy way without sacrificing the quality of the information you send.
If you’re hesitant about the idea of sending weekly or monthly branded communications to clients for fear that this will overwhelm them, take heart. Our internal research reflects that three quarters of clients that receive weekly or monthly branded communications from their advisor interact with their financial information at least monthly. All of them are engaging at least quarterly with the information.
Check out a related blog post on client communication
The On-Demand Antidote to Media Mayhem that Keeps Clients on Track
Present personalized information via summarization & context
How information is presented (how it’s organized, what is highlighted, what is absent) has a huge impact on how clients interpret and feel about the information you provide. Providing only a summary of what you manage directly is incomplete and perhaps misleading. Providing a holistic summary can impart the essential context needed to properly interpret volatility, gains and losses.
The context of the client information you present determines how your clients process the information that you share with them. Will they get it? Will they respond appropriately? The more personalized you can be, the better. Summarization and context are ways in which you can personalize.
Summarization: Summarizing information upfront allows you to set the stage for how clients interpret any subsequent information. By anchoring clients with relevant information, you can reset their mindset and give them the chance to evaluate other details without a warped perspective.
Context: Leading with a summary and organizing information around that complete view of a client’s assets provides context. Providing context allows clients to see how any swings in the value of a single account are viewed proportionately to the total.
CNBC’s job is to crank out content for the masses 24/7. Your job is to paint a realistic picture that can be easily digested by your clients. When you do, everybody wins.
Teach clients to take the right kind of action
When you maintain regular communications with clients, you train them to go to you first when market conditions are uncertain. These good habits can keep them from stressing about finance — and from making rash decisions without your input. Teaching clients good habits requires action on your part. Vince Esposito and Peter J Nagle of Spruce Hill Capital, LLC offer the following tips:
Be proactive — Don’t forget that you don’t have to wait for clients to call you. In addition to automating the flow of information, you can always reach out to clients to head off panic.
Add your unique value — Your clients work with you because they value your insights. When information requires an additional conversation, remember to offer your unique perspective, even if (and especially when) it is contrary to the narrative that the media is portraying.
Emphasize your process — Your clients trust you because they know you have a process that works. Use this to your advantage and remind clients that your system is built to avoid emotional mistakes and oversights. This keeps clients comfortable and reinforces your value to them.
Broaden your sphere of influence — Expand your reach, whether through a monthly commentary newsletter, tv appearances, social media presence or other media. Not only does this help you get in front of new audiences, but it bolsters your credibility with your current clients.
You are not the only source of information for your clients. They are receiving a steady diet of noise, often without essential context. Provide the context your clients deserve. Communicate early and often. When you manage the way your clients receive information, you help them make decisions that are aligned with their long-term goals.
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Also published on Medium.