One of the most important characteristics of successful financial advisors is the ability to put the “human touch” into their client relationships, says Jasmin Bergeron, a keynote speaker for financial advisors and director of the MBA program in financial services at l’Université du Québec à Montréal.
“A few years ago,” Bergeron says, “the advisors who sent out monthly emails or were active on social media were fantastic because it had never been done before. Now, everyone does it.”
Today, the advisors who are getting out from behind their computer screens are the ones who are making a more positive impression on their clients.
Bergeron provides three suggestions on providing some old-fashioned, personal client service:
> Pick up the phone
When something goes wrong — whether it involves a client’s personal situation or his or her portfolio — pick up the phone and talk to them.
While you might feel more comfortable discussing bad news through email, clients are likely to absorb information in a more positive manner if they hear a human voice behind the message.
A phone call will help you communicate your sincere tone and your wish to engage in conversation. Such sentiments expressed via email may come off as platitudes.
> Listen more, speak less
Ten years ago, Bergeron studied the effect that actively listening to clients had on a financial advisor’s business. In his experiments, advisors generally dominated the conversation by talking 72% of the time in meetings while clients spoke for 28% of the time. This practice had a detrimental effect to those advisors’ businesses.
“The more they talked, the less they sold,” Bergeron says, “and the less satisfaction it generated [among clients].”
So, take a step back and let your clients talk about what’s important to them. This policy will enable you to better understand the needs and goals of your clients; it will also help you deepen your client relationships.
Bergeron recommends allotting space in your clients’ digital files to fill in personal details about their families and their interests. This information can be retrieved prior to client conversations to allow for more personal conversations.
> Show your appreciation throughout the year
If you want to show your clients that you care for them and appreciate their business, be “present” in these relationships, Bergeron says.
One way to follow through on this message is to show your gratitude for their trust “just because” — instead of waiting for clients’ birthdays or anniversaries, or for seasonal holidays.
Bergeron’s own business benefitted from this endeavor recently when he sent 250 handwritten cards to thank long-time clients for their confidence and loyalty.
“We went the extra mile because few people do it,” Bergeron says. “The reaction was fantastic.”
The exercise brought Bergeron more than positive feedback; it also brought in some new business.