It’s happening again! Today, we launched Part 2 in our End-to-End Excellence Series – Continuous Client Service – Lock in Loyalty and Build Your Business to those of you who registered to receive it. (Hopefully you all registered for Part 1 last month – Sales & Onboarding – Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression). It’s not too late if you didn’t.
Client service is becoming a differentiating value proposition. Done right, it can help you build trust with your clients, strengthen relationships and create a long and mutually beneficial partnership. In the video and our advisor article, we describe the Five Essentials to Continuous Client Service:
1. Assume nothing and segment your book
2. Conduct impactful client reviews
3. Engage in frequent and tailored client touches
4. Track progress against client goals
5. Explore alternative communication channels
Now I know your days are packed with client meetings, prospecting and firm management. You may find it challenging to devote so much time to building a continuous client service experience. But I argue that these activities demonstrate your competence, build trust with your clients and enable confident decision-making.
Almost everything you do touches on the service experience. By implementing the five essential elements to continuous client service, you can go a long way toward meeting – what we believe are – reasonable client expectations.
Don’t miss out – you can still register online and receive the video and its accompanying article and client review checklist.
Just a quick final note - the page will automatically update when new comments are added. Please do not refresh your browser.
Now let’s get started with the Q&A!
Are you happy with your current client service and review process? Would you change anything based on what you saw and read today?
Information provided by SEI Investments Management Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of SEI Investments Company.
For Financial Intermediary Use Only. Not for Public Distribution.
Last week, I spoke at a Broker-Dealer conference. I really enjoy attending these meetings and, by all accounts, so do most advisors. These conferences have the potential for great networking and a real opportunity for learning about what’s going on in our industry.
I tried to sit in on as many of the breakout sessions as I could – and usually I pick up a good nugget or two. But this time was different. In fact, at one breakout, I broke with professional courtesy and snuck out before it was over (and I never do that). What caused me to do such a thing?
The theme of the breakout was a practice management session on building a better business and setting yourself apart in this challenging market (sounded great and right up my alley). What it really was about was product (and only product). The panel discussion featured one speaker after another talking about how “this product” was the next big thing to hit your business and how it would differentiate your practice. To hear it from them, all I needed to do was sell their product and I would have truly satisfied clients, thousands of referrals and significantly increased AUM.
Since when does a tactical, dynamically allocated, income-focused (with growth) product – that has a guarantee – and is fully liquid – and at the same time is uncorrelated with the markets – and is produced by the low-cost provider – a differentiator (I may have gotten the product pitches a bit mixed up)? It can’t be a differentiator if everyone has access to the same products, right? More importantly, do you think your clients seek your advice and counsel because you can offer XYZ fund, ABC Life Insurance Co.’s annuity, or some other investment vehicle? Of course not.
You are the value-add
Here’s the best advice I can give you after being in this business for over 25 years: Don’t differentiate yourself by touting some investment provider’s products. Differentiate by being you! The product is a commodity. Investors are seeking advice to achieve their goals. They are seeking understanding and communication.
There’s no real magic bullet. In order to differentiate yourself, you need to:
• Provide a top-notch client experience. Return phone calls, hold consistent client service meetings, and conduct value-added events.
• Be a wealth manager. Provide holistic advice, not the hot fund or strategy of the day. Wealth managers hire investment specialists for their teams while working with the clients themselves, not the other way around.
• Be transparent. Make sure the client understands the strategies, investment vehicles and — most importantly — fees. It’s okay to make a living by providing advice; don’t hide it, don’t skirt around it. Cost is only an issue when value is not perceived.
• Communicate. Be in front of your clients’ issues. Use your CRM (or calendar) to remind you of upcoming events and special dates so you can be proactive.
You’re better than a product. And you’re much more than a product salesperson. You provide a service – and that service has a tremendous impact on people’s lives. Don’t fall into the trap of looking for the next product to set you apart. You already have the tool to differentiate – it’s you!
Right now we have a breeding ground for strengthening current client relationships and developing new client relationships (rainmaking). But you need to take the time to understand the wants, needs, goals, and psyche of today’s affluent investor. Make no mistake about it – you can take business away from almost anybody in the current environment, but only if you’re also working to strengthen the loyalty of your affluent clients. We call this the relationship management – relationship marketing nexus. It can be powerful!
It’s times like this that separate the pros from the pretenders. So, what can you do to capitalize on the fragile psyche (confusion and uncertainty) of today’s affluent investors? I would suggest applying the following four steps.
Step #1 – Proactive Calls
This seems simple enough, but I’m always surprised by the number of advisors who don’t even do this with their top clients. Spooked affluent clients calling you are an indication that you’re not doing your job. This contact must be proactive! You’re simply re-enforcing the fact that you’re monitoring their financial situation. You can say something like, “Hi John, we’ve been closely monitoring your portfolio amidst all of this volatility – our focus is on achieving your objectives of _____ and ______. From here you want to get face-to-face with every top client in a social context if possible. This is counter-intuitive, but people crave social interaction during challenging times.
Step #2 – Preparation
Our research on the affluent has revealed 16 statistically significant criteria the affluent use to select a financial coordinator. One of these criteria is creating and executing a formal financial plan, another is risk-tolerant asset allocation, and still another is organizing and coordinating all aspects of their financial affairs.
You want to make certain you’re meeting expectations on all professional fronts. That said, you also need to be prepared to know about what’s going on within their family. The idea is to blend the personal with the professional. So, if your clients don’t have a formal financial plan, you put this on the agenda. If they have a daughter who is a budding freshman at Duke University, you’re prepared with a surprise and delight for the daughter and a conversation about college.
Step #3 – Proactive Meetings
Depending on what you discovered in your preparation step, you will want to proceed accordingly. If you’re meeting socially, be careful not to discuss much business, if any at all. Everything should revolve around something that’s important to them on a personal level (daughter attending Duke).
If you happen to be meeting for business, create an agenda that covers the criteria that needs to be addressed. Remember, your role is to be the solutions provider for the multi-dimensional aspect of their financial affairs. That means you must be on point regarding their psyche and the solutions you’re providing. One without the other will not work in today’s environment.
Whether it’s a social or business face-to-face, it’s a “natural Rainmaking opportunity” – which is our step four.
Step #4 – Arrange COI Introductions
This environment has heightened the anxiety of the friends, colleagues, and family members of your top clients. Many would welcome a “risk-audit” on their portfolio. Your job is to have your antenna out and uncover the names of these people when in conversation with your clients.
After you’ve uncovered the name, your objective is to get a personal introduction and offer your services for a risk-audit (2nd opinion) almost as though you were offering a favor. After a bit of small talk, you can, dumb-like-a-fox, ask “Do you think Jack’s had a risk-audit on his portfolio?”
Follow that above and you’ll bring in more business in this environment than you ever have in the past. How so? You’ll be activating the relationship management – relationship marketing nexus, essentially modeling the actions of elite advisors in crisis. Your purpose is to strengthen the loyalty of your affluent clients and acquire their friends, colleagues and family members as new clients. They need you!
Matt Oechsli is the President of The Oechsli Institute, a coaching and training firm established in 1978 to help financial advisors better attract, service and develop loyal affluent clients. For more information, visit www.oechsli.com.
Your Morning Cup of Links: Goals-based Conversations, Making Social Media Profitable and iPads on the Rise
Hopefully you all had a great Memorial Day holiday!
If you were mentally checked out over the past week, I wanted to share with you a few articles that you may have missed while you were golfing, entertaining clients, or spending some quality time at home.
Financial Advisors Need to Manage Wealth, Not Returns
All I have to say is, “Exactly.” Are your clients more interested in knowing if their portfolio beat a particular benchmark for the quarter? Or whether or not they will have enough cold, hard cash to retire?
Check out this article from Financial Planning to see further evidence on why you need to change the conversation. And, as you may or may not know, SEI can support a change to a goals-based conversation with tools such as our unique goals-based client statements.
How to Actually Make Money from Social Media
Here’s an interesting article from Entrepreneur Corner on social media, citing examples of social media use in various industries – including by accountants and financial planners.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking more about advisors using social media to help build their practices.
By All Accounts Survey Reveals Financial Advisors See Business Benefits from Tablet Computers
By All Accounts, Inc. recently released results from a nationwide survey indicating that over 40% of financial advisors have a tablet computer, and those who are using it are attributing increases in business productivity as a result. Surveys of SEI’s Strategic Advisor Council also reveal that iPad use by financial advisors is on the rise, with 46% of recent conference attendees reporting that they are thinking about using a tablet for work and 25% already using one regularly.
Are you on the tablet bandwagon? Or are you waiting to jump on this trend?
- Your Morning Cup of Links: Building Trust, Being a Joiner, Succeeding at Succession and More
- Fee-based: You Can Get There From Here
- Is It Time to Reboot Your Approach to Clients and Prospects?
- Styling and Risk Profiling: Time for a New Approach
- Continuous Client Service – It’s Time to Differentiate Yourself