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Four communication imperatives for today’s clients
I recently had the opportunity to talk to a group of affluent investors about relationships with their advisors.
When it came to communication, I was struck by how the things that would have impressed clients ten years ago are absolutely ho-hum today … and how quickly the standards for effective communication are changing.
Not that long ago, investors would have been happy with an annual meeting and quarterly newsletters or market updates. While this model will still satisfy some, a growing number of investors are looking for something more when it comes to communication from their advisor.
Four new rules for effective communication
There are a number of themes that run through conversations with investors about what they look for in terms of communication.
1. More frequent contact
Given volatile markets and the sheer volume of available information, a growing number of investors want to hear from their advisors much more frequently than in the past — for many clients, the traditional model of an annual review as being the sole form of personal contact no longer cuts it.
2. Shorter conversations … on their terms
At the same time as investors want to hear from their advisors more frequently, they are reluctant to invest an hour on each conversation — they want shorter updates. Furthermore, more and more want at least some of these conversations in a time, place and fashion that is more convenient than trekking to their advisor’s office.
3. Relevant and customized
Some investors complain of generic, same-old content in meetings. A growing number are looking for conversations that reflect current issues and which are directly relevant to their situation, addressing the key question of “what does all this mean to me?”
4. From credible sources
We all recognize that today’s consumer is not only bombarded with much more information but also more sceptical. As a result, some investors are looking for direct access to expert views and for a sense that the perspectives they’re getting come from credible, objective sources.
Building a foundation of personal contact
Effective communication starts with a foundation of personal contact.
Let’s begin with the reality that while many things have changed, there’s still no substitute for face to face contact. An annual face to face meeting is still essential — and for important clients, you need to do whatever it takes within reason to make that meeting happen, in my opinion up to and including meeting at their home or office.
Provided that you make it clear you’re making an exception to accommodate their schedules, if that’s what it takes to make it happen, for significant clients I’d be open to occasional meetings on their premises.
Having the meeting is only the first step, though. Once face to face with clients, you need to ensure that you accomplish a number of key things:
1. Clients have to walk away reassured about your competence and ability.
2. They need to feel listened to and be confident that the meeting revolves around their needs and agenda rather than yours.
3. Clients need to emerge feeling more positive that they’re on target to hit their long term goals, even if that entails making some modifications to their plan.
If you missed last week’s article, here’s how one advisor achieves this:
Supplementing face to face meetings
For many clients, even if you accomplish all these goals in your annual review, that once a year meeting isn’t enough … they want more frequent, shorter updates.
That’s where regular telephone meetings come in. Increasingly, advisors will need to schedule 15 or 20 minute telephone appointments to answer questions and update progress.
The key is to making these telephone reviews feel as much as possible like face to face meetings. The article below from late last year goes into detail on using technology to make those phone meetings work.
For some clients, this level of personal contact is sufficient — an annual face to face meeting and short quarterly phone meeting would be absolutely sufficient.
Others, however, are looking for more — on Thursday, I’ll cover the other two ingredients to effective communication — relevant content from credible sources.
About ClientInsights.ca A breakthrough in client communication Not long ago, clients read what you sent them. Today that's changed. In the You Tube world we live in, many investors would prefer to hear from a portfolio manager directly. And instead of reading an article on tax saving or estate planning strategies, more and more Canadians would rather watch an expert discuss the topic. Clientinsights.ca was developed in response to these changes - to deliver information in the form that investors want to receive it. It provides over 150 short video interviews, each about 4 to 6 minutes - you can email them or watch a video along with clients to start a meeting. No matter how you use it, Clientinsights.ca is designed to help you take client communication to a higher level. Dan Richards Founder and CEO, Clientinsights.ca Read more from the author/contributor here.
Tags: Annual Meeting, Conversations, Credible Sources, Current Issues, Effective Communication, Fashion, Imperatives, Investors, Market Updates, Personal Contact, Quarterly Newsletters, Relationships, Sheer Volume, Time Place, Traditional Model, Trekking, Volatile Markets
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