For Clients Expecting 5-Star Service, Exceptional Communications Is Not Enough—Proactive Communication Is the New Standard
Top financial advisors understand that superior client communications are paramount to building a successful practice. That is supported by a widely published survey by Financial Advisor Magazine, revealing that 72% of clients cite poor client communications as the number one reason they leave their financial advisor.
If 72% of clients expect exceptional client communications as a condition for staying with an advisor, it’s no longer a differentiator—it’s merely table stakes for advisors who hope to compete for their business. So how can financial advisors who do focus on elevating the client communications game stand out to clients with higher expectations of what five-star service should look like?
Providing frequent and personalized communication is a given for financial advisors with ambitions of growing a successful practice. But for increasingly discerning clients, it’s no longer enough. According to a YCharts survey of 650 clients, it’s more important that their advisors be more proactive in their communications by anticipating questions they might have.
Proactive communication is the new minimum standard
No, that doesn’t mean clients expect you to be mind readers. However, it does mean they expect you to have a thorough understanding of their challenges and concerns, to know what you should be communicating to them and when. Instead of being reactive by only responding to their questions and concerns, they want you to be proactive by getting out in front of them.
Clients expect you to answer all their questions but helping them uncover which questions they should be asking is invaluable. Many clients don’t know what they don’t know until their advisor illuminates them. They find value in an advisor who brings things to their attention they otherwise wouldn’t consider, especially if it prevents them from making a poor decision or helps them get closer to their goals.
Here are three ways advisors can take a proactive approach to take their client communications to the next level:
#1. Track your clients’ milestones and life stages
Every client is unique with their own set of financial values, concerns, and priorities. However, they will likely experience similar life events based on their age and life stage. If not anticipated or properly planned for, these client milestones can significantly impact your clients’ financial plan and goals. The following steps will help you align your communications with their life journey and anticipate their concerns.
- Pinpoint which life stage your clients are in and list important milestones and critical decisions that must be made.
- Identify the feelings, concerns, actions, and information needs your clients will experience in their current or next life stage.
- Identify other stakeholders impacted by critical decisions, including spouses and children.
- Think of how you can have the greatest impact with your communications at each stage.
- Identify the types of communications you’ll provide and how to deliver them.
- Update your CRM with communication touchpoints for each client.
#2. Create client personas
Creating a client persona for your ideal client in each of your target markets will help you identify the specific traits and characteristics that influence how your clients make decisions. Essentially, it’s a composite of the challenges, goals, priorities, concerns, and motivations your clients share.
The more research you do in creating a detailed persona, the more prepared you will be to anticipate your ideal clients’ questions and concerns or introduce issues they may not have considered. For example, a prospect who owns a family business wants to plan for retirement, which you are well-equipped to handle.
But what about issues that typically arise for family business owners, such as the inability to cope with losing control, ensuring their children make sound financial decisions, or how to lead a fulfilling life in retirement? These are conversations your prospects may not expect but would be welcomed.
More importantly, your clients will get a clear sense that you truly understand who they are and what they’re trying to achieve.
#3. Become a news interventionist
Today people are subject to a 24/7 media barrage of news and information that can be overwhelming until it’s placed in the proper context of their lives. Wave after wave of news and commentary on grim economic news, stock market volatility, rising geopolitical tensions, and political upheaval can increase anxiety, sometimes causing people to make ill-advised decisions.
Next to a person’s physician or therapist, a financial advisor is best positioned to soothe their anxiety or place events of the day in the context of what it means to them. When something significant breaks in the media, create a communication that explains how it might affect your clients, along with advice on how they should respond to it, even if it’s to stay calm. They’ll appreciate that you’re thinking of them in difficult times.
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