SPECIAL SPONSORED CONTENT
THE WORLD HAS BEEN DISRUPTED.
So can your practice and client relationships, if you aren’t taking a fresh look at your outreach and marketing.
In uncertain times, clients yearn for insight, support and understanding. The mission for advisors is to demonstrate these things consistently, and equally well, whether face-to-face or digitally.
The events of recent months remind us that some fundamentals still apply, and also that we need to adapt. What can advisors do to deliver on what clients expect and value?
TWO EXPERTS FROM SUN LIFE’S BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AREA WEIGH IN:
> When the world has been turned upside down, what are clients seeking most?
FARROW: A steady hand and compassion. What we’re going through has far-reaching financial implications. More than ever, people want to know that their advisor is there for them. So you need to talk to clients, and do so frequently. Your clients need to know you care, and that you understand how this uncertainty impacts them specifically.
MASRI: We are all in need of communication that actually clarifies. News is breaking at such a rapid pace that it’s difficult to separate the signal from the noise.
> It can be hard for many clients to know what’s right to do, more so when life is chaotic. How can advisors respond?
FARROW: Clients are looking to their advisors to distill all the information coming at them, and help make sense of it all. Explain what everything means to them and how you’ll adjust their plan accordingly. This will help keep them on track or manage unexpected implications that arise from our current reality.
> Advisors can draw on their expertise, but what else should they look to build?
FARROW: If there was ever a time for trust and empathy, it’s now. Lead with that. That means asking how clients are holding up, how they’re feeling, what they’re struggling with. This is the chance to be caring and reassuring. Be a human first. Ask questions, listen and reinforce that you’re going to get through this together. Trust is your most valuable currency as a financial advice professional. The benefit is a more lasting and stronger relationship.
> What conveys trust?
FARROW: We think it revolves around three categories: professional, procedural and personal trust. In other words, it’s about your capabilities, actions and attitudes. Trust should be at the centre of your practice and client interactions. Sun Life has a simple self-assessment tool to see if you’re demonstrating the key components. If you are, you have a better chance of keeping clients for life. If not, you might be at risk of being disrupted.
> How can advisors rethink their outreach when they can’t necessarily meet face to face?
MASRI: Advisors need to be just as good across a screen as they are across a table so they can generate just as much trust and confidence. There’s a perception that video conferencing is not as effective as in person. However, it’s better in some aspects. You’re still communicating visually, and, if you’re doing it when people are in their own homes, there’s an added degree of comfort that can make it easier for them to open up to you.
FARROW: Moreover, it’s also efficient and can be easier to schedule. That’s an issue in our time-constrained world. Our research says clients are seeking immediacy and convenience. This new normal allows the advisor to give clients what they want.
MASRI: Connecting digitally also opens an advisor’s ability to reach clients and prospects anywhere. There can be whole new markets.
> What should advisors work on now, in their own development, so they’re in the best position to deliver long term?
MASRI: There’s an opportunity now to build up your business muscle—to finally tackle the “important but not urgent” tasks that keep getting pushed to the bottom of your list. Maybe you spend a day drafting a content marketing plan or refining your client segmentation. The idea is to work on the business—not just in the business.
> What other tools or skills should advisors focus on now?
MASRI: Having an up-to-date website is critical. Your online image may be the only image your network will see in the near future. Advisors need to put their best foot forward, digitally. LinkedIn is a powerful way to do that. It’s also an excellent place to gather information on prospects. According to LinkedIn research*, 44% of LinkedIn users earn more than $75,000 US a year.
FARROW: Comment on posts, share content and participate in the conversation. This can position you as a thought leader, and keep you top of mind.
> What if advisors are unsure how to start?
MASRI: Sun Life has created a ‘Going Digital’ program that’s specifically designed to help advisors fully pivot to communicating virtually. It looks at three things: how to be as effective at virtual meetings as you are in person; planning, promoting and presenting a successful webinar; and LinkedIn Quick Wins. Be proactive. Clients and prospects will notice.
> Should the focus now be squarely on current clients, or is this a good time to cultivate new ones?
MASRI: Some may not think so, with so much uncertainty still, but many advisors see this as a perfect time to prospect. If you’re not out there aggressively, someone else will be.
> Canada and the world have changed but will eventually re-emerge from this pandemic. Everyone has looked for strategies to cope. What are some good lessons for advisors?
FARROW: If you’ve taken the right steps during the COVID-19 crisis, you’ve shown clients they can count on you when it matters the most. If you’ve failed to act, your absence will be noticeable.
MASRI: This isn’t a time for the status quo, and, really, there never was a time. Advisors who are suffering the most are the ones who weren’t redefining themselves over the years. The big lesson is that you have to constantly look at your processes, strategies and marketing so you’re more disruption-proof.
* Source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/linkedin-statistics-business/
About Sun Life Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2020, Sun Life had total assets under management of $1,023 billion. For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com. Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.