What information do clients want from their financial advisors? Recent publications and common sense say that it’s more than reports, charts, and graphs.
1. Clients want to know how the reporting they receive relates to their personal situation and goals. That’s why Rockland Bank “provides ‘road map’ reports that track the client’s portfolio from the beginning of his or her relationship with the firm.” Life planners extend this approach, focusing on people’s life goals first, with questions designed to bring out clients’ deepest values.
2. Stories, analogies, and metaphors are another way to reach clients and help them understand both routine and complex investment topics. For example, you can give the standard explanation of compound interest. Or, you can demonstrate the meaning with a simple question: “How many days does it takes to save one million dollars, if you start with a penny and double the amount every day?” Guess which method is most memorable?
3. Video messages are an emerging approach to more fully engage clients. While there are regulatory hurdles, some advisors are adding video commentary to their client newsletters. When clients hear and see their advisor’s commentary, the message becomes more personal and powerful.
4. Don’t fall into the trap of acting like a bad blind date – monopolizing the conversation, failing to listen, and talking over your clients’ heads. Instead, provide clients with frequent and clear communications. Take advantage of a range of options – calls, emails, newsletters – to stay in close contact with your clients. And when communicating, avoid jargon and industry-specific language.
5. Finally, follow best practices in communications. At Beyond the Arc, we suggest you focus on the customer, create a positive tone, state your purpose up front, include a clear call to action, and make it easy for customers to contact you.
Working Things Out Between Counselors and Clients, Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2011
Storytelling for Financial Advisors: How Top Producers Sell, Scott West and Mitch Anthony
5 ways financial advisors fail investors, MarketWatch, Nov. 16, 2010;
Advisers viewing videos in new ways, InvestmentNews, December 12, 2010
10 best practices for writing to customers, Beyond the Arc blog