As robo-advisors and passive investments gather momentum, the best way financial professionals can compete is to rely on the personal touch.
The competition for advisory clients keeps growing, particularly as robo-advisors and passive investments become more popular. Yet finance professionals still have a singular advantage—the personal touch. By taking small, thoughtful steps to show clients you care, you can differentiate your firm, build stronger client relationships, and boost your business over time.
There’s a clear economic argument for doing so. A recent survey of more than 800 financial professionals found that it costs about $3,100, on average, to acquire a new client. Moreover, firms with very high retention rates—95% to 97%, which equates to average client relationships of 20 to 30 years or more—can be extremely profitable over the lifetime of a client.1 Quite simply, your best clients are your current clients, and if they leave, you will need to spend heavily to replace them. So, anything you can do to cement those relationships will likely yield dividends.
Here are some specific ways financial professionals can show clients they care.
Send Hand-Written Thank You Notes.
Emails work, but many clients—particularly in older demographic groups—appreciate a hand-written note showing your gratitude.2 The note could thank them for their business, for providing a referral, or even just for taking the time to meet with you.
Send Gratitude Videos.
For younger clients, you can send personalized videos that acknowledge a specific interaction (like hitting the one-year milestone of working with them).3 Some services are now available to simplify this process for small businesses, including BombBomb, Vidyard, and Hippo Video. (If you have an IT team, be sure to work with them on utilizing this type of service.)
Send Thoughtful Gifts.
Some firms send all clients a standard gift—often a shirt, bag, or hat with the firm’s logo on it. By taking a more thoughtful approach and sending specific gifts to clients, you can show that you see and understand them as individuals. For example, if you know a client is moving to a new home, you can send a housewarming gift. Retirement, a new business location, or their birthday—all are opportunities for you to show you care. If you want to send everyone the same gift, consider a basket of local products, like gourmet foods from a market in your town.4 (As always, ensure that you abide by your firm’s corporate compliance policy regarding gifts.)
Donate to a Cause in Your Clients’ Name.
Some clients may not want physical objects—consider a retired couple downsizing from a big house to a smaller apartment. In those situations, you could make a donation in their name to a specific nonprofit that you know they support. (Some firms may opt to do this instead of sending holiday cards.)2 Or if you know a particular couple loves culture, you could give them an annual membership to a local museum.
Hold Virtual Events.
COVID-19 has restricted firms’ abilities to bring their clients together. As the pandemic eases, those events may slowly return, but some clients will also appreciate the opportunity to connect with you and other clients from home. To that end, you can continue to hold virtual events. For example, send a bag of ingredients to each client's home, and hire a chef to conduct an online cooking class.3 You could also include bottles of wine and ask a sommelier to discuss those wines as part of the same event.4
Offer Free Services.
If a client goes through some kind of life change, you could offer services without charging. For example, if a client loses a job or has expensive medical care, you could offer to help revise their household budget.2 You could also offer financial literacy courses for the children of clients.4 (To make those classes resonate, tailor them to different age groups—one for kids in high school, another for recent college graduates living on their own.)
All of these ways of showing appreciation have something in common: They require that you get to know your clients in ways that go beyond their financial portfolio. That comes from actively listening during meetings and—critically—taking notes and conducting surveys after each meeting.5 That’s not easy. It requires more than transactions. But in a competitive financial services market, these efforts will help you stand out and build a loyal base of clients over time.
1 Michael Kitces, “The Most Efficient Financial Advisor Marketing Strategies And The True Cost To Acquire A Client,” Kitces.com, Feb. 10, 2020.
2 “5 Unique Ways to Show Your Financial Advisory Clients Appreciation,” Insightsuccess.com, accessed May 5, 2021.
3 Suzanne Muusers, “20 Financial Advisor Client Event Ideas During COVID,” Prosperitycoaching.biz, Jan. 12, 2021.
4 Matt Matrisian, “6 Ways to Show Clients You Care,” Investmentnews.com, March 3, 2021
5 Morey Stettner, “Financial Advisors Q&A: Superior Client Retention Rates Start with Surveying Clients,” Investors.com, Nov. 25, 2020.
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