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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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Coronavirus: How to Calm Anxious Clients

News of coronavirus cases hitting the U.S. sent financial markets into a tailspin, with U.S. stocks recording their worst week since October 2008. Naturally, many clients reacted with anxiety and fear. Many had concerned conversations with their planners. One of the best ways to learn new strategies for allaying client fears during volatility and uncertainty is to ask your peers.

In response to its members’ needs, FPA has created a new virtual community on FPA Connect for planners to share language and strategies for calming clients in the wake of coronavirus anxiety. This FPA Connect group held three live webinars in early March, during which the following tips were shared amongst planners (visit Connect.OneFPA.org to access this and other discussion groups):

Provide perspective.

Longtime planner and professional leader Dave Yeske, DBA, CFP®, said that during times of uncertainty, he starts conversations with anxious clients with the idea that whatever happens, human beings are enduring.

Yeske also provides perspective, demystifying the concepts of “the economy” and “the markets.”

“I always explain to clients that the economy is not some big machine that gets expressed in statistics, like gross domestic product, and consumer price index, and GDP deflator,” Yeske said. “[The economy] is just you and me, and everyone you know, and everyone you don’t know going about the business of earning, saving, spending and investing. Those individual decisions aggregate up to this thing we call the economy. And that’s why economies are resilient. And that’s why markets are resilient—because human beings are resilient. And that’s a fundamental regularity that’s not going to change.”

Offer weekly recaps.

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA®, CES™, said it’s important for planners to find that balance between keeping clients informed on what’s going on, yet not creating anxiety. Her firm, Francis Financial, surveyed clients during the recent market turbulence and asked: how often do you want to hear from us? The No. 1 answer was one a week.

“What they want is a weekly recap that helps them cut through the hype,” Francis said. “We need to help them see what’s really important, and what they don’t need to pay attention to.”

Francis also passed along advice from Michael Kitces and Carl Richards, who suggested adding non-financial tidbits to your weekly recaps, such as upcoming community events or spring break travel tips—content that shows you’re paying attention to more than just the markets.

Be understandable and relevant.

Francis also suggested reminding clients that what the markets are doing is different than what their portfolios are doing.

Tell clients: “Your bonds are doing phenomenally well, and they’re doing exactly what we wanted them to do, so that when stocks are falling, your bonds are going up and really saving the day,” Francis said. “Let them know that the myth of, what happens in the market is happening to me, is just not true; show them that it’s not true.”

Experience more peer-to-peer learning like this through FPA Connect at Connect.OneFPA.org.

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Carly Schulaka is editor of the Journal of Financial Planning. Reach her at cschulaka@onefpa.org. 


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3 Steps to Run Your Business Like a Genius

Albert Einstein is not the only genius to acknowledge that whether the subject is something as vast as the universe or as microscopic as an atom, there is a process involved.

In order for something to work effectively it must be rooted in a foundation of a successful process. Your business is no different. In order for you to be effective in building, running and maintaining a successful business, you need to have well-thought-out systems. You can operate your business in one of two ways: leave your success up to chance, or map out your methods and procedures.

Successful planners know that mapping out a new system, method or procedure is a process in and of itself. Let’s take a look at specific steps to incorporate new stepping stones into your business future.

Step No. 1: Understanding Where You Are

As a professional development coach, I’ve said often that when it comes to your business you must be completely transparent with yourself. That’s why it is important to look at every aspect of your business and ask, “Where am I with this?” In other words, what is working, what is not working and why.

John D., a 20-year veteran financial planner who realized that most of what he was doing in his business was reactive in nature, in areas such as time management, client servicing, prospecting and even with his sales process—he didn’t have a systematic, step-wise approach to any of these aspects of his business.

Ironically, not having a process was his process, so when a client called with a question or request, he dropped everything and took care of it. When he did decide to prospect by asking for referrals, he’d typically say, “Who do you know that I could introduce myself to?” This was followed with the client replying, “I can’t think of anyone but if I do I will let you know.” It’s interesting to note that in this example he actually did have a process for asking for referrals. However, it was not at all effective.

Step No. 2: Understand Where You Want to Be

Sometimes it can be difficult for a planner to realize that they have been running a reactive business simply because they have never been taught any other way.

In John’s case, I simply explained that successful planners have a proactive business model because they have an effective and repeatable methodology for everything! As I went into the details John began to recognize that having this type of business was exactly what he wanted (and needed).

Step No. 3: Learn and Implement

Then it was time to map out and create a business systems manual for John to refer to any time he found himself wondering how to manage something. This is best done by taking each facet of your business finding a colleague or mentor who has an effective approach that you desire to emulate.

So as to not overwhelm John, we started with time management. I showed him tools and techniques for architecting structure for his day, a way to prioritize interruptions and make a game out of sticking to the steps with a daily reward and punishment incentive. It didn’t take him long to start feeling more in control of this time. Once John felt he had a handle on one business facet we went onto another one.

Why Running a Business like a Genius Works

Repurposing another’s successful systems means you don’t have to craft something from scratch—which can be overwhelming. You do have to implement and follow whatever steps you outline for yourself. Having a plan makes sense and you don’t have to be Einstein to know that.

If you would like a complimentary coaching session with me, please email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley

Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.