Today, many investors are making financial decisions based on their own research. With electronic trading and volumes of easily accessible information on the Internet, more people are venturing out on their own. As a result, standing out is even more difficult for financial planners and brokers.
The key to competing in this age of do-it-yourself investing is to know what your clients need and to meet their expectations consistently. If your clients are satisfied with your service, they will come to depend on you and have no reason to venture out on their own. Another benefit of having happy, satisfied clients is that they tend to place more of their assets with you and are the best source of referrals for new business.
Even though client satisfaction is at the core of the financial planning industry, a survey of 879 affluent investors by Financial Planning Magazine, November 1997, found that only 26.7% were “very satisfied” with their financial advisor. To help ensure that all your clients are pleased with your service, you need to focus on your ability to provide guidance, good service, and effective communication.
As data and statistics become more obtainable through new technology, people are getting lost in the financial information being thrust at them. Although they may not even realize it, or care to admit it, your clients count on you and your expertise to steer them in the right direction to achieve their financial goals. Remember to be flexible since each client is unique in the level of guidance they require, from determining their present financial situation and implementing a suitable financial personalized plan, to explaining the finer points of more complex products and issues.
You need to provide solid information and make your clients aware of all the possible options that they need to consider in order to make the correct financial decisions for their future. Since most people usually want to learn more about investing, educating your clients by holding seminars and workshops is often quite successful. By conducting various seminars and educational workshops for your prospects and clients, you can showcase your professional ability while building your clients’ confidence in you. The more your clients learn about finances from you, the more they will trust you as an expert and depend on your advice.
People certainly know when they aren’t getting good service, but everyone has their own idea of what good service is. Each individual is unique in their expectations and definitions of quality service. Therefore, the secret to standing out is to build a long-term relationship with each of your clients that extends beyond your business relationship. When you get to know your clients on a personal level, you can match your level of service to their needs. Some clients may just need an occasional call or card to touch base, while others expect you to know every transaction they have ever made and have that information at your fingertips when they call. When dealing with each of your clients, always make yourself as available as possible, remain flexible, and have an abundance of patience on hand.
Even though clients may have difficulty expressing themselves clearly, they expect excellent communication from you. Clients should always be kept current on their portfolios and informed of any changes in your firm or personnel. Being the first to report changes to your clients shows that you care about them and want to make sure they are up to date on their financial situation. They will appreciate the fact that you tell them yourself rather than waiting for someone in your office to pass information down to them.
The ability to listen to your clients and allow them to present their concerns to you is equally important. By asking probing questions and being honest and candid with them, you will gain their trust and confidence. Another good idea is to follow up client meetings with summary letters, so both you and your client can have an accurate reminder of what was discussed and can be clear on the plan of action. At times you may think some communication unnecessary, but overkill in this area may be appropriate.
A great way to bolster your efforts in all three areas of guidance, service, and communication is by sending out client newsletters. Newsletters allow you to inform and educate your clients and prospects on important financial topics as well as letting them know what is happening in your office or personal life. Personalizing your newsletters takes your efforts a step further by enabling you to focus on your specific audience and acquaint them with yourself and your services.
By focusing on advising your clients, showering them with personalized service, and being up-front and candid about their financial future, you will be able to build and maintain a successful business. Your clients will appreciate your expertise and service and will discover the value you provide is something that they can’t get by doing it themselves.