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Enhancing Your Client Experience for Your Future Business

One constant within the financial services industry is the care and concern advisers and financial planners have for their clients and this won’t change as we move into the future.

Although technology advancements can certainly help us improve our relationship with clients, care and concern cannot be outsourced to technology.

What You Can Start Doing Today to Prepare for the Future

I’m often surprised at how little personal information advisers know about their clients beyond financial goals, time horizons and risk tolerance. You may know which clients golf or enjoy traveling, but do you know which charitable or civic organizations they support and why, which sports team they cheer for, or what unique skill or talent they possess? Do you know about how and where they grew up, why they chose a particular career, or how they met their spouse?

Some of you reading this will say, “Yes, I know the answers to these questions.” For the rest, consider starting a campaign to get to know your clients on a deeper, more personal level. Be inquisitive.

Technology Can Help

Each time you meet with or speak with a client, make it a point to learn something new about them. Then use technology to keep track of the information and, if appropriate, set reminders for yourself to reach out to clients regarding important events or milestones happening in their lives. By starting to gather information and keeping track of it now, you will be in a position to use this information in the future to deepen relationships by “remembering” important facts about clients.

How surprising is it to a client when they receive a gift card for their favorite restaurant as a thank you for a referral?

“How did you know I love this restaurant?” They’ll say

“I remember you mentioning it once.” You respond.

“Wow…what a good memory!” They’ll reply.

How fun would it be to put on an event for a small group of clients with a similar interest uncovered during this personal data gathering campaign? Using technology to track interests allows you to capture the data necessary to link clients with similar interests.

Where I see the biggest opportunity with technology is in virtual reality. Advisers are often challenged in getting clients to implement the advice they are being provided. Imagine being able to show a client—who you are encouraging save more for retirement—a virtual reality session illustrating what the client will look like 20, 30 or even 40 years in the future. This could be just what the client needs to see to make them want to save more for retirement.

Virtual reality could also illustrate what a week in retirement might look like. Instead of just having a graph showing assets increasing (or not) through retirement years, virtual reality could show clients what a financially successful retirement could actually look like—comparing time spent in Italy, if that is on their bucket list, to time spent in the back yard. Not that spending time in the back yard is bad.

What Hasn’t Changed

I know this information isn’t earth shattering or new, but it’s a good reminder to keep the client relationship front and center. As the old adage goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As much as things will change, I firmly believe the essence of this statement will not.

The bottom line is this: when clients feel we have a clear understanding of their fears and desires, provide recommendations that are in alignment with these fears and desires and know them and care for them as we do our own family, unforeseen changes in the future won’t derail the adviser/client relationship.

How I Plan to Support Your Efforts

As the client experience coach in the FPA Coaches Corner, my goal is to help you improve the service you provide and the relationship you have with your clients. I will share tips and ideas for deepening relationships as well as improving your client service. Stay tuned!

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Teresa Riccobuono is a practice management and recruiting specialist for the financial services industry, helping financial professionals envision and then develop their ideal financial planning practice. Understanding that great ideas are of little value if unimplemented, Riccobuono works side-by-side with her clients to be sure ideas are implemented.

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Editor’s note: this article originally appeared in the FPA Coaches Corner whitepaper, “Action 2020: Create Business Success for Today and Tomorrow.” Download the whitepaper today


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Your New Partner: Client Data

Have you ever been browsing Facebook and come across an ad for something you just need to have? How did they know I needed a Furbo dog camera, you might think. I was just talking about how my dog needs to be surveilled when he is alone in the house (you know, so you can watch destruction in real time).

Technology today likely knows more about your clients and their needs than they do. And clients readily give their information in exchange for convenience and safety. Smart refrigerators tell them when they’re out of certain groceries—some go so far as to order the missing groceries. Video cameras alert them when there is a stranger outside their door and allows them to talk to that stranger from wherever they are.

Our phones know our patterns. Our smart speakers are always listening and predicting what we want. Some might argue this is not a good thing, but it might be for financial planners.

Bernie Clark, executive vice president and head of Schwab Advisor Services, noted in a recent interview with Financial Planning (“What’s New With Your Client? Data Will Tell You Before They Do”) that in the near future, technology that tells you what your clients are up to is going to be more prevalent.

Clark noted that client data will soon be analyzed to alert financial planners when wedding planners are hired or big jewelry purchases are made. Essentially, data will become predictive and you’ll know when big changes are coming for your clients and be able to be more proactive.

Some new software even helps planners predict how much clients are likely to spend on healthcare by analyzing their health history and location, according to the Aug. 5, 2019 InvestmentNews article, “Tech to Help Advisers Plan for More Years of Healthcare Costs in Retirement.”

While many planners have been employing predictive analysis to figure out how to best reach a prospect, using client data to predict what is coming down the pike for the financial planning process is perhaps new for many others.

“No matter how good you are as a human, you’re going to miss stuff,” said Jeff McMillan, chief analytics and data officer at Morgan Stanley in the 2017 InvestmentNews article, “Wirehouses Use Predictive Analytics to Shore Up Goals-Based Planning.”

“Data-driven analytics are key to the current and future competitiveness of financial service companies,” writes Karsten Egetoft, senior solution architect of the financial services industry unit at SAP, in the January 2019 issue of Digitalist Magazine. “We are just at the beginning of a wave of innovation based on data and powerful analytics.”

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Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Next Generation Planner. She also edits the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org, or connect with her on LinkedIn


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Improve Your Digital Presence in a Restrictive Environment

Something we’ve noticed from our work with advisers at Kalli Collective is that they are way behind in their online presence—even the basics. But, before you get defensive, hear me out. I don’t think it’s entirely your fault.

The financial services industry will always be behind other industries because of the compliance regulations set in place to protect you and those you serve. FINRA and other regulatory bodies need time to figure out how applications operate and what risks exist. They don’t allow use of such applications until they’ve had a chance to create safety measures. It was only a few years ago that advisers were allowed to have a social media profile, and by that time several organizations from other industries had already built up a reputation and following.

This lag in access combined with largely non-tech savvy individuals has created a fear of the unknown, which has created an “if I ignore it, it will go away” mindset. Many of the older, established advisers insist they don’t need a web presence because they built their business without it. It’s only in the last three to five years that advisers have started to create a presence online, but even these efforts are rarely thought out or invested in more than the bare minimum. But, don’t let this discourage you. While your competition is just scraping by with a website from the early 2000s and a social media profile they update once a year, you can reach clients and prospects with a superior digital presence.

Here are a few tips on getting started:

Take Stock

According to Pew Research, 74 percent of online adults use social networks regularly with nearly 5 million affluent investors using social media to research financial decisions. Check your current digital presence score from our Coaches Corner doc to find any gaps and areas you can “beef up.”

Define Your Annual Budget

Most marketing pros recommend that you invest 20 percent of your business profits into your marketing. This is for all marketing, not just your digital efforts. This includes business cards, brochures, signage and so on. You’ll have to judge your own situation to determine what percentage is right for your business. I do encourage you to delegate a large percentage of your marketing budget to your online presence, especially your website. Your website should be your hub of content and indicate to your clients and prospects working with you is like. Need more help? Watch our video about website budgets in FPA Coaches Corner.

Have an Overview Plan

Define your target audience. A target audience is who you’re trying to reach or connect with. Sit down and take a look at your book of business. Who are your top clients? What niches do you work with or want to work with?

Define what action/s you want your target audience to take. How can you grow your business through each segment of your target audience? What action do you want them to take?

Define where/how you can reach your target audience. Research them. Where do they get their information? What groups are they part of? What publications do they read? What are their interests?

Review every quarter. Technology is constantly evolving, so every quarter review where and how you can reach your target audience. Every year or so, review and update who your target audience is and what action you want them to take.

Create a Content Calendar

Using your overview plan, create a calendar for what content you’ll be releasing, when, where and who is responsible. Use our how-to create content document in FPA Coaches Corner to help.

Add Call to Action and Drip Funnels

It’s extremely rare to find an adviser who is forward-thinking and brave enough to create a system to funnel leads into drip campaigns and/or provide interactive sections on their website. Your website should really be more than an online brochure of your business, and each target audience segment should have its own set of funnels and drip campaigns based on the interaction of the prospect. If your prospect is interested in a 401(k) rollover, doesn’t it make sense to send them periodic emails related to that topic? By creating a funnel on your website and social media, you have the ability to do just that.

While regulations do contribute to the financial services industry being behind, it’s not an excuse for advisers to cease coming up with creative solutions and clear growth plans with what they do have access to.

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Kalli Fedusenko and The Kalli Collective partners with professionals in the financial planning profession across the U.S. in their digital marketing plans. Think of Kalli Collective as your in-house marketing agency that just happens to work for your office remotely. They not only help plan, strategize and implement a marketing plan, they do the work for you so you can spend your time on what you do best—planning with clients. She is one of the newest coaches in the FPA Coaches Corner.

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Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared in the FPA Coaches Corner whitepaper, “Action 2020: Create Business Success for Today and Tomorrow.” Download your copy of the whitepaper here.