This is the second in a series of articles from Jon Pittham, Managing Director at ClientsFirst, aimed at improving how you communicate your client experience. This week’s article deals with ongoing communications with clients to maintain their positive experience of working with you and your financial planning firm
Annual reviews – that yearly get together with client and planner. It is here that you find out about changes in your clients’ circumstances and goals, and you inform them of any legislative changes or key developments in their portfolio; undoubtedly a key pillar of the financial planning client experience.
However, outside of this yearly meeting, what communication do you have with your client? My guess is relatively little. You may have a monthly newsletter, digital or print, where you provide some up-to-date financial news and maybe some more general information.
This is good… but in an era where pretty much everyone else does this, is it good enough? Does it really show that you are an esteemed financial adviser who goes further than the rest? Does it truly demonstrate that you do things better than your competitors?
Most financial planners who operate with this model of client communications only really maintain one proper client touchpoint each year, the annual review. And unfortunately there will be a percentage of your standard newsletter communications which remain unopened.
Partly this is because the content can be a little bland, but mostly it is because we have moved past a stage where generic email communications alone are enough to fully engage a client. Focusing wholly on newsletters could be a missed opportunity that may be better spent by doing something a little more personalised and/or interactive.
The internet has enabled companies in many sectors to keep in regular contact with their clients through multiple channels. The financial advice sector, unfortunately, is not quite yet among these. Financial planners largely fail to fully exploit the power of the internet in maintaining client-adviser communication.
Maintaining just one real touchpoint a year simply isn’t enough if you want to be seen as a modern, competitive firm. If you only have the annual review, it is essential that you create more client touchpoints.
The easiest way to do this is to provide clients with useful, personalised content, year round. This is an example of 1-2-1 marketing which I consider to be the marketing strategy that generates greatest customer loyalty and has by far the best return on marketing investment for pretty much any company in the professional services sector.
1-2-1 marketing is a marketing strategy that emphasises personalised interactions with clients. It reinvents marketing with the personal touch absent from many modern business strategies.
An easy way to implement a 1-2-1 approach would be to go beyond generic newsletters and instead give your clients targeted newsletters based on the information you have about them.
For example, sending already retired clients newsletter articles about saving for their retirement is pointless – they are not going to read it. Articles like this should be targeted at younger clients, whilst retired clients might prefer information about downsizing their home.
The ideal brand image for many financial planners to cultivate is that of a subtle, friendly and supportive hand that provides tailored and respected advice. Sending out clearly non-specific emails is at odds with this, while a 1-2-1 approach can actually enhance it.
Outside of your email communications, think about holding more face-to-face meetings with your clients. These could be individual, or take the form of client events or mini-seminars.
What’s more, in addition to the annual review, it can be worthwhile to set up a separate “family review” where you meet with your clients’ family and discuss their financial plans. Family reviews allow you to go beyond being a distant part of a family member’s financial affairs and bring you into the family network.
Whatever course of action you take, there needs to be more than just one face-to-face meeting per year.
Outside of direct financial planning, getting your clients involved in any social or charity initiatives you may have at your firm is an excellent way to get them involved with what you are about and helps to build a sense of community around your business.
All in all, you need to consider how you can use your client communications to have more than one ‘touchpoint’ a year. In 2018, we are lucky because it is easier than ever before to do this. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) softwares enable you to organise all your clients’ details into one place. You can use this data to easily make your communications more targeted and engaging.
The means for a more complete client relationship are out there but it is up to advisers and planners to make best use of them.
To read Jon’s first article in this series – onboarding:creating a customised welcome – click HERE
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.