Client Events: How One Financial Advisor Makes the Most of Them

Jul 23, 2019

Last month, Mitchell Walk of Retirement Wealth Specialists shared his first of two blog posts with us. In One Financial Advisor’s Client Experience Philosophy, we learned that personalization, accessibility and communication are the pillars of his client experience philosophy. Today, he is going to dive deeper into one way they communicate with their clients: events. Mitchell is very passionate about the client events he hosts – he truly enjoys them. He told me that at each event, they strive to create an experience that makes a memory. With that, I will pass it to Mitchell…

In my last blog post, I shared our client experience process. Today, I will talk about our events. We have learned that if you spend time and money on existing clients, you will spend less money trying to replace clients. We host 3 types of events that bring our clients together and provide an opportunity for them to get to know each other, as well as an opportunity for them to bring their friends.

1. Educational events: We hold many economic workshops in which we talk about interest rates, market updates, the bond market, the equity market, and volatility. We mix many different topics over the year. These events give the client confidence that we are knowledgeable in managing their investments. We always encourage clients to bring friends and family.

2. Let’s-not-do-business events. Over the years, these events have included lunch and a movie or dinner and a movie, depending on our market. We have three offices in 3 different demographic locations, so we target events and times to meet those clients’ lifestyles and schedules. We host the lunch or dinner, pay for the movie, buy popcorn and a drink and enjoy the experience. We have also hosted events that have included a trip to an animal rescue shelter, local plays, and an ice cream social with a car wash included. These events create a friend and family atmosphere. Their friends hear about the events and become curious about what “their friend’s advisor” is doing.

Most recently, we hosted a picnic at a state park. Bruce Udell (our CEO) and I donned aprons and hats and were the grill chefs at the pavilion we had reserved, while our team served the clients their lunches. Our clients had teased us about doing this for years, so they thoroughly enjoyed it. After lunch, we took them on a 100-passenger covered boat to cruise around the big lake with a guide pointing out wildlife in the water and marsh areas. Following the boat tour, we took a 1-hour land tour on a tram throughout the park with a guide sharing the history of the park.

Our biggest and most successful event, which we have hosted for about 12 years, is our spring training baseball game and picnic. This event brings the most friends/prospects and always sells out. About 1 ½ hours before game time, we set up our registration desk at the front of the stadium with our big banner. We sign people in and then escort them to an enclosed, private picnic area we reserve, which is only about 75 yards from the entrance. They get a special wristband that grants them special access to this area, which is next to the bullpen. The stadium provides a full buffet with tables and umbrellas. I realize in many cities you might not have spring training, but you may have major league baseball or even minor league teams. This creates a nice client experience. Our clients consistently send us e-mails and notes thanking us for this event.

3. Client advocate events: This is one of the most important events we host. This Sarasota event is a way to show our appreciation to any client who has brought a guest to any other event we’ve hosted in the past year. We always encourage our clients to bring their friends and/or family to our events. Their guests are not required to make an appointment with us or to become our clients. We just want them to let us meet their friends; the rest is up to us.

All in all, over an 8-month period, we hold at least one fun event a month and mix in the educational, more serious topics in separate seminars.

Some takeaways around event planning would be:

  1. Stay active and host a variety of events.
  2. Be creative. Clients enjoy different events, becoming friends with each other, and they appreciate being a valued part of the business.
  3. Try to make every event a special experience.
  4. Track your events. In late August, a few months before most of the snowbirds come back to Florida, several of us meet to set up our event schedule. It starts in October and runs through May. We first review all the events of the previous year and decide which events generated the highest attendance, which events clients brought the most prospects to, and which events created the most prospect appointments. We keep track of all this information on our server so that we have accurate information upon which to make good decisions. We started keeping track in 2010, so we have very good data. Since then, we have almost tripled our AUM, which was a large number to begin with.

From the beginning, we recognized the value of relationships, not just returns. We focused on communication, not marketing. Returns and marketing are absolutely keys to success, but how you interpret those terms and how you implement your mission statement is the difference between growing by 5 million a year or growing by 50 million a year.

Thank you for your insights Mitchell. Here what I am walking away with:

  • Invest in your clients. I think Mitchell says it best, “If you spend time and money on existing clients, you will spend less money trying to replace clients.”
  • Gratitude is important. Mitchell’s client advocate events are rooted in gratitude. There are not any other motive, except to truly thank the client. It is authentic and powerful.
  •  Keep track of your events. Hone in on key metrics that are important, like client and prospect attendance and follow-up appointments. Think about sending a brief survey afterwards to get more feedback on the event, so when it comes time to plan the next event, you know which ones were the most successful.

The opinions and views expressed herein are those of Mitchell Walk. SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy. Mitchell Walk and Retirement Wealth Specialist are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries.

Investing involves risk including possible loss of principal.

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