Theodore Roosevelt once said that: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Whether you’re running your own financial planning firm or working as an employee, the art of genuine client engagement is an important professional skill – and it can make or break your bottom line.
When times get tough, top clients become far more selective so winning and keeping their trust (and business) will separate you from the competition.
- Figure out their pain points
Knowing and understanding your market (and what keeps them up at night) is critical to maintaining the rest and respect of A-class clients.
What causes them fear, frustration, confusion or annoyance? Rather than selling yourself and your planning firm, make the conversation about them and they’ll keep coming back for more.
2. Ask the hard questions
Speaking with Money Management, EWM Group Managing Director, Brad Scott, has said that financial planners working with high net worth clients should ask questions about their “full financial picture to ensure that they don’t relinquish the relationship to another advice provider”, such as lawyers, bankers or brokers.
The key issues to raise include wealth transfers, estate planning, philanthropy and their wider financial goals and business needs, even if you need to ask tough or awkward questions along the way (which may need involvement from stakeholders such as family members).
3. Give the tough answers
Elite financial planners and firms understand that smoothing over rough economic times or professional errors doesn’t win friends and influence people.
Taking credit for professional success when the markets are soaring and business is booming is easy. It takes integrity to to own up to your mistakes, deliver unwanted messages and be realistic about what you can and can’t control in the market.
Warren Buffet closed his first successful fund because he realised he couldn’t chase a market he didn’t really understand. Later on, he admitted to Berkshire shareholders that that his delay on closing down Gen Re’s trading arm cost hundreds of millions in losses.
Fronting up to the tough issues is one way you can earn (and keep) the respect of A-class clients. Don’t tell them that having a diverse portfolio will eliminate volatility – it may reduce the impact of market lows but it’s a question of risk.
Be honest, don’t overdeliver on promises or you risk losing top clients in the long run.
4. Take them on a journey
There’s a reason we love juicy novels and Hollywood flicks – they get at our true desires and take us on a journey. A high quality advisor captures the emotional state of their client and works with them on their plans and dreams for the future.
One of the key recommendations in Deloitte’s 2015 report, Advice Based World, was to “optimise and personalise the experience.”
A-grade clients don’t just come looking for advice – they expect an experience. Deloitte’s tips to transform the customer and advice experience include:
- Introducing new technologies and digital infrastructure
- Allowing customers to have a say in how they want to experience advice services (observing customer feedback from complaints, social media and other systems is a great place to start), and
- Empowering staff at the customer interface to solve problems without sticking to imposed rules of formulas.
Find out what they dream about, what makes them tick and help them map out their pathway to financial and business success.
Provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to create successful outcomes and celebration the milestones and the journey (not just the destination).
5. Be the expert
Prospects often look for financial advisers whose typical client is just like them.
Sheryl Rowling, Principal of Rowling & Associates, a US-based investment and financial advisory service, believes that that the best way to land a seven-figure client is to project to them that they are in your business “sweet spot”.
If you really want to score new business from high profile clients, you need to impress upon them that you’re the expert, you advise clients in the same kind of position and you have the skill set they need.
6. Be consistent
The 2011 Roy Morgan Retirement Planning Report (2011) suggested that more than 47% of financial planning clients don’t proactively stay in touch with their planners.
A more recent survey Future Ready VI survey by Business Health and Rubik in 2015 (drawing responses from 328 financial planning firms, found the average number of client facing appointments per adviser per week stands at just 6.3.
So we’re not touching base or connecting as much as we should (or as much as we used to). This is an easy fix! Be consistent, follow up after appointments, show some effort and make sure you check in regularly with clients.
Keeping detailed file notes from meetings is a fantastic way to track your client’s needs and concerns. Committing to a regular weekly/fortnightly/monthly or even quarterly calls or in-person meetings also helps to cement the relationship and build familiarity and trust.
And it goes without saying that you should continue to take advantage of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin to search for referrals and leads and stay connected.
A great way to win clients is through solid content marketing strategies that help build trust and establish your expertise in the prospect clients’ minds.
The internet has given us a wonderful platform for clients to ‘get closer’ to advisers without having to phone or meet up in person all the time. Most advice businesses really struggle with content marketing processes but it can such a boost to your business.
The secret to landing clients is about connection, engagement, tapping into their pain points and being the expert.
The key to keeping clients is being consistent – in the way that you communicate, the services you offer and how you deliver the customer experience.
Chris Wrightson. Founder and CEO at Centurion Market Makers, the industry experts in the sale, acquisition and management of financial planning firms. If you’re planning on selling your firm in 2017, we’d love you to call us for a confidential discussion, or continue browsing our website for more tips, tools and info on the steps to take when buying or selling your financial planning firm.
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