This is the third in our series of articles from Jon Pittham, Managing Director at ClientsFirst, aimed at improving how you communicate your client experience. This week’s article looks at the importance of communicating the ongoing value of your service to your clients – and gives practical tips on how you can improve it
Everyone in the financial advice sector faces a similar problem – the problem of an intangible proposition. Demonstrating your value can be a challenge. If you don’t show your importance, your clients might start looking elsewhere.
In conventional retail, a material product is the eventual outcome of a transaction. For consumers, the value of material products is easily definable. Straightaway, a good product will make an observable difference to their life.
For instance, if you buy a nice new car, you can drive it to work the next day and experience that ‘buzz’ of having a car that handles better or has improved fuel efficiency compared to your old one.
You can see the value of the car in its luxury interior or in the complexity of its engineering. This fits with the common understanding of how value is attributed because the car physically symbolises the money the buyer has parted with.
A conventional retail relationship is a relationship of immediate return. You pay money and you get a car.
With financial advice, it is slightly more difficult for prospective clients to grasp the value of your service. Financial advice entails a relationship of delayed return. It might be a few months (or even longer!) before a client realises that you have provided a worthwhile service.
The idea of being charged money to make money can seem a little confusing to some. Others would even claim that they would be better off keeping a close eye on the news to find out where and how to invest.
What’s more, Mifid II has arguably made it easier than ever for potential investors to take a DIY approach. Formerly complex fees and platforms are being forced to become simpler than ever. D2C platforms are also ascending fast, creating an environment where advisers may need to do more than before to show why your clients need you.
What all this means is that it is crucial to communicate the value of what you do to your clients. If you don’t, they might either try to go it alone or move to a different adviser who makes them feel they are getting the most for their fee.
Showing your value
You need to prove the value you provide at every interaction you have with your clients – across all touchpoints. This makes it clear that you do something continuously valuable for them. You must convey that you do something that they need. Unlike their new car, this is something that they will need reminding of.
You and your client may have had that initial spark, but like all relationships, the chemistry can diminish if you don’t work to maintain it. If you get complacent, your client might look for someone who gives them more attention – you must put in the legwork to demonstrate why they need you.
Conveying this, all comes down to communication. No great relationship has ever emerged from poor communication. If an annual review is your only point of real contact with clients, this needs to change. Every email, every phone call, every letter needs to demonstrate your professionalism and why you stand out.
You need to maintain an outward appearance that radiates good value at all times. You want your client to know that you are always there for them, and to think that you will go beyond the call of duty if needs be.
Regularly using and updating social media accounts is an effective way of remaining in your clients’ consciousness. What’s more, quickly responding to clients’ tweets and direct messages shows that your firm is modern and up-to-date with the times.
Look your best
If your website, logo or offices look shabby and tired, your firm will give off an aura of cheapness. Great design, however, enhances the perception of value.
Investing in a sleek and efficient website will pay dividends because your clients will be less likely to look elsewhere for something that’s not so clunky and stale. It will also provide a better first impression for potential fresh enquiries.
Looking good also shows your firm’s credibility. Your aesthetics form a large part of the client experience. If a tacky design taints a client’s memories of your firm, they may be inclined to look elsewhere.
Having a website with a modern feel also displays your firm’s relevance. It lets your clients know that you make the effort to adapt to what they may want.
To sum up, if you want to be seen to provide your clients with a worthwhile service, you need to maintain regular effective communications. What’s more, looking good across all touchpoints is key to establishing your uniqueness and professionalism. It’s no good saying that you are ‘bespoke’ through a website which looks like a template.
About Jon Pittham
Jon founded ClientsFirst in 2010, having previously worked in both plc and SMEs. Having started in what he describes as a ‘broom cupboard’, Jon has grown ClientsFirst from the ground up and continues to take an active role in both our own marketing and that of our clients, as well as setting the strategic direction of the business.
Jon’s most difficult ‘management’ task away from the office is keeping three young offspring busy but, when he’s not doing this or anything related to ClientsFirst, he heads out into the great outdoors, with tennis, golf and running the occasional half-marathon amongst his hobbies.