Reach Out in Good Times and Bad

Sue BerginSue Bergin, President, S Bergin Communications

It’s no secret that clients like to hear from their advisors. In fact, failure to communicate is one of the top five reasons why clients become dissatisfied with their advisor. According to a Spectrum study, 40% of clients said they consider leaving when the advisor makes them do all the work (make all the calls).[1]

A recent study by Pershing, however, shows that advisors do make the calls—when they have bad news. Here are some of the key findings when it came to communication choices.

  • 58% of the advisors contacted clients during market downturns, yet only 39% reached out to discuss market gains.
  • 68% of advisors reached out to clients when personal investments declined, while only 53% initiated contact with the client in instances when personal investments increased in value.[2]

Bergin_Reach Out in Good Times and Bad_6.19.14How News is Delivered
The telephone is the most frequently used communication vehicle for both good and bad investment performance news. A quarter of the advisors surveyed used email and face-to-face meetings to communicate market losses, while 58% of the advisors picked up the phone. The only type of communication that happened more frequently in person than any other message was in the area of education. 52% of advisors said that they scheduled face-to-face meetings to educate clients while 48% did so over the telephone.

“No News is Good News” Applies Better to Weather than Client Relationships
Communication work is fundamentally about two things: trust and relationships. Good communication can strengthen relationships and deepen trust while poor communication can have the opposite effect. The “no news is good news” approach many advisors seem to take is problematic for a few reasons. It robs the advisor of the opportunity to score relationship-building points. It also increases the risk of clients feeling neglected. Finally, it makes it more difficult for the advisor to identify opportunities proactively because they become somewhat out-of-touch with what is happening in their clients’ lives.


[2] The Second Annual Study of Advisory Success: A New Age of Client Communications and Client Expectations, Pershing.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are for informational purposes only.

In Search of Someone

Stan Warchol, Brinker Capital 

As the director of Brinker Capital’s client services department, I made it my personal mission to smoke someone out.

“Someone” is that elusive figure that makes mistakes. It’s that anonymous person that gives clients inaccurate, incomplete and sometimes out-and-out false information.

Here is how “someone” invades an organization.

A client at the other end of the phone says he spoke to “someone” and was told that he didn’t need to submit one of the required forms. “Someone” assured another advisor that her request could be processed immediately, when in fact her forms weren’t in good order. “Someone” confirmed for a different client that “it” was done yesterday, when in fact “it” hadn’t been done at all.

No matter how good an organization, “someone” can bring it to its knees.

The only way to make sure “someone” doesn’t invade your firm is to demand accountability from everyone. No matter how brief the interaction, anyone who talks to clients should document the call. They should give their name and contact information so the person knows whom to call with future inquiries. No one should have the luxury of anonymity, particularly when their role is to answer clients’ questions and help you succeed.

With an easily accessible record of all of clients’ interactions, “someone” will be forced to find shelter in the firm down the street.