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.

[1] http://www.onwallstreet.com/gallery/ows/client-switching-advisor-top-five-reasons-2681390-1.html

[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.

12 Holiday Card Musts

Sue BerginSue Bergin, @smbergin

You probably covered holiday cards in Client Communication 101. The holidays provide an opportunity to show clients you are thinking of them, and appreciate the role they play in your life. It’s important not to approach this as a “bah-humbug” type of task

Even though it may be a tedious task to undertake during the year-end crush, holiday cards are an important marketing and brand-building tool.

Here are a dozen things to consider when selecting your card:

  1. Display-worthy. Your holiday card is one of the most on-display items you’ll send to your client. After all, no matter how satisfying their investment performance, they won’t tape a recent statement to the wall. Yet, business owners hang the holiday cards in their lobbies. Company employees display them on their desks or in their cubicles. Retail clients put them along a mantelpiece, place them on bookshelves, and some even win a coveted spot on the refrigerator door. Keep the display aspect in mind when selecting your card. For example, horizontally-oriented cards tend to fall over more easily than their vertical counterparts. If it keeps falling down, it is a nuisance and will end up in the trash faster than a fruitcake.12.3.13_Bergin_HolidayCards
  2. New year, new card. Even if you have a stockpile of cards left from past years, fight the urge to use them. If you absolutely can’t resist, then only send last year’s card to new clients. Current clients just might remember, and reusing a card sends one of two messages: you are too cheap to buy new ones, or you are lazy.
  3. Awareness. Unless you know for certain of the religious holidays your clients celebrate, stick with a “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” message.
  4. Quality. There are a tremendous number of low-cost, do-it-yourself options out there. Use them cautiously. Make sure the output reflects your professional standards.
  5. Test the system. If you are using an automated system, make sure it works. Build enough time into your process so that you can generate test cards to make sure the process works (quality check addresses, salutations, signatures, postage, etc.).
  6. Destination. In most instances, you’ll want to send the card to your clients’ homes. Exceptions can be made for centers of influence and corporate clients and contacts.
  7. Old-school charms. Modern conveniences like electronic signatures and address labels hint of a mass-mailing campaign. They may seem impersonal. Take the time to hand sign each card. For bonus points, write a personal sentiment.
  8. Respect the sanctity of the time. If your standard practice is to ask for referrals every time you communicate in writing with clients, consider taking a break on the holiday card. You don’t want to leave the impression that you’re simply trying to drum up business.
  9. Timing. The later the card, the more competition it has for your clients’ attention and display space. To stand out, start early.
  10. Spice it up. Anyone can pick up store-bought cards, or pull from the standard greetings in the online templates. The result is a forgettable and insincere greeting. Be creative and design something distinctive. Take the time to select a design and message that reflects your brand.
  11. Be inclusive. Forget about selectivity. Dive deep into your CRM. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a game of card tag whereby you scramble to get a card in the mail for someone who has sent one to you.
  12. Get personal. This is an opportunity to connect with clients on a personal level. Give details about favorite holiday memories or the traditions you hold dear.

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