With the second phase of the client relationship model (CRM2) now in effect, you can expect questions from clients — about performance, fees and what they are receiving in return. When responding, you should demonstrate a culture of transparency about your practice.
"Clients are going to look at the absolute dollar value of how much their advisor is being paid," says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist Business Development in Montreal.
Beyond being upfront about how you are compensated, you also should be open about the work you and your team do on your clients' behalf.
Here are a few steps you can take to project a culture of transparency:
> Remind clients of the services you provide
Some of your clients might not be aware of the range of services you offer, Gilbert says. Sometimes, they assume there is a hidden fee in any other services you may provide.
Instead of offering services that clients know will net you a commission, Gilbert suggests, offer them something that you're not necessarily being paid for.
Without directly trying to sell them on new services, you can remind clients that they have access to a range of specialists if they need more advice. For example, offer to have a tax specialist go over their tax return to see if they have missed any tax credits.
Try to show them that you take a holistic approach to managing their wealth.
> Anchor your conversations around their goals
When discussing performance with clients, talk about how their portfolio relates to their goals. If you place too much emphasis on performance numbers, Gilbert says, the conversation can start to feel impersonal to clients.
Demonstrate to clients that you are fully aware of what financial security means to them. "Clients choose their advisor on an emotional basis," Gilbert says. "You want to show that you care; you want to show that you've listened."
Doing so can be as simple as casually mentioning that you know how important it is to your client that he or she can travel regularly during their retirement.
> Break down your fee structure
Don't wait for your client to broach the topic of fees with you, Gilbert says, even if you've already had that discussion months ago. Once clients have received their statement, you should take that opportunity to revisit the conversation and clear up any confusion.
Also, you might offer to make yourself available to clients should they still have questions about your fees.
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