Your Clients are Leaving You in the Dust

When I ask advisors about communicating with clients using new technology, I hear the same responses all the time: “My clients are older, they prefer the phone”, “My clients don’t use email”, or my favorite, “My clients like to have something on paper.”

These statements pretty much say the same thing: advisors assume clients are technologically averse and just aren’t interested in changing the way they communicate.

That assumption is shortsighted and you may be falling behind your clients technologically.

The truth is that while some of your clients may have been retired for a decade, they are active on Facebook and use their iPad everyday. More of your clients are using email, texting, Facebook and similar technologies to communicate with family and friends. It should be no surprise that they also use these channels to talk with select service professionals. Are you getting texts from your clients?

If not, you’re probably not part of the client’s inner circle.

Many advisors believe that they’ve been able to satisfy clients by mailing quarterly reports and emailing periodic newsletters to them. You may think you’re doing a good job of engaging your clients, but an increasing number of your clients may not share the same sentiment. Your clients’ and their family’s expectations have changed. They are living in the 21st century and expect you to be there too.

It’s time you engage your clients where THEY are, not where YOU think they are.

Connecting RIGHT NOW

Text messaging is quickly becoming the predominant method people use to communicate with one another. While it may not be true of every client, even older clients are regularly using this technology today. Texting may not be the method you prefer, but like it or not, more of your clients may prefer it over phone calls and emails. Keys benefit of texting with clients are its immediacy and brevity. Texting tends to avoid the inbox clutter problem of high volumes of lengthy emails and avoids the procrastination often associated with voicemail.

You might avoid texting out of compliance considerations. After all, text messages to and from clients are subject to record retention requirements. But those requirements are simple to address with the right tools.

Free services such as Google Voice allow you to copy all text messages sent and received through the service to an email address. So if you already have an email archiving service in place, all of the text messages you generate will be automatically forwarded to an email account that is retained for compliance.

Advisors tend to rely on traditional communication techniques when contacting clients. It’s no surprise. In some sense, you’re paid to be a conservative voice of reason. However, extending that beyond financial advising proper is a mistake.

Technology has fundamentally changed the way people communicate with one another, including your clients. It’s time you catch up and expand the ways you connect with them. Communicate on your clients’ terms, where they are, using the media they prefer and you’ll find your relationships will be more satisfying and engaging.

Bill is a CFP® professional and is a technology consultant to financial advisors. He writes the monthly technology column for Morningstar Advisor, provides technology commentary for the Journal of Financial Planning, and blogs at his own website, FPPad.com
  • Still don’t think your clients are interested in texting and social media?

    AdvisorOne summarized results from a Fidelity Investments survey, including:

    “While 85% of millionaires are willing to communicate through social-media, e-mail, and text messages, only 43% of brokers and financial advisors share that willingness.”

    View the full article here: http://www.advisorone.com/2011/07/12/advisors-are-from-mars-clients-are-from-venus