We all know it’s far more expensive to acquire new clients than retain existing ones. Bearing that in mind, the same focus and tenacity that is put into prospecting must be put into the current client experience.
While “performance” is an easy scapegoat excuse for why clients leave financial advisors, often the decision to leave is much more related to service and expectation. “Service” consists mostly of matters related to communication, such as being both proactive and responsive. And oftentimes this service gap is related to a miscommunication or mismanagement of client expectations.
Clients need to understand the value that you, their financial advisor, bring to the table. Keep them apprised of all the ways in which you’re taking care of them. Clients often leave because they think their advisor is not doing enough (or anything) for them. If they only knew the numerous actions you were constantly setting in motion on their behalf, they’d certainly think twice! Be honest when things do not go as planned, as well; ownership and transparency inspire respect. Stay on top of your communication, ask for feedback, and do not get lazy in selling yourself, even and especially after they’ve signed on the dotted line.
Signing on with a new advisor is oftentimes an overwhelming experience. Expectations surrounding service and long-term performance goals must be clarified over and over again, ideally both in-person and in writing so the client (and whoever else in the client’s family will be involved in the relationship) can reference previous discussions. Do not over-promise, and do not under-deliver. Steer clear of those, and you’re already at an advantage over other financial advisors (unfortunately).
Determine how hands-on your client is. Provide clients options in terms of reporting, whether that’s sending them documents and their financial plan directly or offering a client portal where they can log on whenever, wherever, to review and peruse.
Whether bonding over a sports team or a set of values, making a personal connection is extremely important when it comes to retaining clients. This connection takes you from an analytical finance guy or gal to someone who truly cares, which drives loyalty. Build your brand around these shared values.
One of the many reasons clients pay you what they do is to be the voice of reason during times of market (and/or life) volatility. It is part of your job to be the steady hand, and remind clients of their long-term plan. They will thank you later—when they are still your happy client.
Being a fiduciary to your clients means, to start, full transparency. Show your clients what they are paying for and why your services add value. Illustrate that you only earn money through client fees, and have zero other sources of revenue (unlike some financial advisors, who push products because it ultimately monetarily benefits them). Clearly demonstrate that your sole focus is executing in the best interest of the client.
Since in-person meetings are a no-go right now, it’s a perfect time to test out virtual communication platforms. Showcase awards you’ve won and articles you’ve published, and host podcasts and seminars to show off your thought leadership. Utilize simple video conferencing platforms like Zoom so your meetings are personal yet still safe.
In this day and age, people crave consistency. While emotions are running high, it’s more important than ever to prove to your clients that they made the right decision to hire you. Be in constant communication, and you can ride out this crisis like you have others, retaining your loyal clients. Your behavior now will likely affect referrals you receive in the future.
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