To succeed, advisors often have to think like marketers. They prioritize ongoing client communication and create systems to ensure they’re constantly supporting the people they serve.
This sounds simple, but it doesn’t happen by accident. Marketing-savvy advisors count the number of “touches” they need to remain “top of mind.”
In plain English, they want to maintain regular contact with clients. Each touchpoint — or interaction — reminds clients that their advisor cares about them and seeks to advance their goal attainment.
These touchpoints come in many forms. From phone calls to video chats to automatically generated emails or texts, each informal attempt helps reinforce an advisor’s value and improve client communication. Like financial planning tools, these client communications “tools” can be useful and should be part of any financial advisors’ business model.
Touchpoints Help Solidify Client Communications
Clients are more likely to stick with their advisor through ups and downs if they believe in the relationship. Advisors can solidify that belief by establishing a reliably visible presence in clients’ lives, looking to anticipate and address problems and tailor a financial plan that keeps investors on track.
When timing the number of touchpoints they set up during the year, advisors accommodate each client’s wishes. Another factor is the size and scope of the advisor’s practice.
Josh Sailar, a certified financial planner in Brentwood, Calif., has about 55 clients. He stays in touch with most of them every few weeks.
“We’ve gone a month or so without contact, but that’s usually because they’ve been unplugging,” he said. “And we know that ahead of time.”
Otherwise, there’s a frequent back-and-forth between Sailar and his clients. They contact him with questions or to update him on their plans. And he commemorates their birthdays, anniversaries and other big moments such as a child’s graduation or when they become new parents or grandparents.
Financial Advisors Have More Contact Amid A Pandemic
“We go over their portfolio quarterly, but not all conversations are technical,” he said. “They can be personal. And when any news changes that relates to clients, we reach out to them. We overcommunicate so that there’s never an opportunity for them to say, ‘I wasn’t aware of this.’ “
Sailar retains key information about clients. If he learns that they’re planning a trip, he will call after they return and ask about their vacation. If they buy a car or boat, he will congratulate them on their purchase.
“It’s a 50/50 split who initiates the communication,” he said. “We see our clients as CEOs. If they initiate (contact with us), it’s like a CEO informing their team of what we need to know.”
The pandemic has affected how advisors calibrate the cadence of touchpoints during the year. Isolation led many advisors to reach out more often to check in on clients, especially seniors.
Advisors typically ask newcomers how often they’d like to structure their client communications. Busy professionals may tell their advisor that once a year is enough; others just want to know their advisor will return calls or emails promptly if a question arises.
“The focus over the last year has been on more client touches, especially with A or A+ clients,” said Doug Oosterhart, a certified financial planner in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “I’ve moved some of them from quarterly to monthly, even if it’s just a 15-minute phone call or Zoom (ZM) meeting.”
Save Time With Video Messaging
Advisors’ outreach strategy is only as good as clients’ receptivity to that strategy. Some high-net-worth individuals may see little reason to interact with their advisor on a regular basis.
Oosterhart says that one of his biggest clients, a retiree in his 60s, may respond “months later” to his emails or calls. The client shows little interest in Oosterhart’s newsletter or other content.
“He told me, ‘I don’t need to hear about what you’re doing every month,’ ” Oosterhart said. “But then we talk twice a year and it’s great.”
To forge a stronger connection without meeting face-to-face, Oosterhart uses Loom video messaging software. It lets him send short videos to clients while sharing his screen.
“It’s a game-changer,” he said. “I use it for thank-you videos, explaining topics, answering questions and showing clients how to do tasks. Clients love it, and it saves a lot of time and makes it so I don’t have to schedule a new meeting for a short batch of questions they might have.”
When running retirement projections for a client in his 40s, for example, Oosterhart used Loom to record a five-minute video summarizing a few planning scenarios.
“Before (Loom), I’d send him a PDF with all the projections and then we’d follow up with another meeting,” he said. “Now, he can watch a video on his own time and if he has any questions, I can respond with another video.”
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