Advisors today are seemingly tasked with a host of responsibilities — discussing clients’ investment goals, monitoring their investment strategies, tracking the market and adjusting portfolio allocations. Some wealth managers can be so challenged with work, that it strains the way they engage their clients:
The following tips, offered by financial planners and industry experts, may help advisors overcome some of biggest challenges to client engagement.
1. Marketing and prospecting
David R. Lee, director of practice intelligence at Raymond James Financial, says the best way advisors can prospect today is to center their search on “centers of influence.”
“Make time to spend with people you like [both clients and centers of influence],” says Lee, a member of the education team who has helped train hundreds of Raymond James’ advisors. “These are the sources of your best clients. Look for COIs who fit with your personality, want to grow their businesses and offer reciprocity potential.”
Wealth manager Jennifer Landon, founder-president of Journey Financial Services of Idaho Falls, Idaho, recommends advisors create opportunities to get in front of client prospects, such as holding educational events on topical events — for example, preventing identity theft, creative Social Security strategies and market updates.
2. Balancing the art of being a money manager and a relationship builder
To meet this challenge, Lee suggests advisors leverage their time efficiently. “One way,” he says, is to develop a “consistent and repeatable investment process and move clients into it, while delegating or eliminating those things keeping you from the most valuable use of your time [being with clients and prospects].”
Another approach is to outsource some tasks, such as billing and record keeping, which will allow more time to build upon and develop new client relationships, says Nate Lucius, managing director at Gradient Investments, based in Arden Hills, Minn.
3. Staying engaged with clients and delivering consistent updates
“A monthly newsletter alone will not suffice,” says Lucius. “Clients should be able to access online tools or portals that can help them feel more in control of their financial life.”
He recommends holding monthly educational dinners or lunches at a local restaurant or in your office. Quarterly client calls are another way to stay tuned in with clients.
“We particularly like video updates because our clients find value in them and they’re easy to forward to a friend,” says Journey Financial's Landon.
Charlie Harriman, a financial advisor at Cloud Financial Inc., a financial advisory firm with several offices in Alabama, often holds informal gatherings with clients. Events have included a “client appreciation” dinner, BBQs, a cookout at a shooting range, a movie night, a paper-shredding night, golf tournaments and luncheons.
“These events are not related to financial topics,” says Harriman. “Rather, they allow us to interact with clients in a social setting.”
Bruce W. Fraser, a New York financial writer, contributes to Financial Planning and On Wallstreet