Memorable client events don’t need to be lavish affairs. A casual gathering that draws out the entire family can make a great impression. Family-friendly client events enable you to get acquainted with your clients and their families without having to ask formally for an introduction.

“It’s a little more of a natural way to meet clients’ family members,” says Frank Ortencio, portfolio manager with Richardson GMP Ltd. in Toronto. “It breaks down some of the hurdles.”

For Ortencio, family events present an opportunity to introduce his clients to his own family as well: “It allows them to see my family, and it humanizes my relationships.”

Hosting a family-oriented event offers the opportunity to demonstrate that you can add value beyond the work you do, says Adam Schacter, financial planner at Mandeville Private Client in Ottawa.

Another advantage of a family-friendly event is that parents don’t have to worry about making arrangements for a babysitter.

With the holidays just around the corner, Schacter and Ortencio share their ideas for throwing a family-friendly gathering that your clients will want to attend:

> Rent a movie theatre
A popular feature film can get children excited, making them much more willing to accompany their parents to what’s still essentially a business-related event.

Both Ortencio and Schacter time their events to coincide with the release of a children’s film during the holidays. In recent years, their clients have been treated to screenings of such family favourites as Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Finding Dory.

They see “family movie day” as an occasion for parents — and grandparents — to bond with their children or grandchildren. It allows them to host an inclusive guest list, with up to 150 to 200 people, depending on the size of the theatre.

Because this occasion is oriented around the children, it shows that you are willing to engage with your clients outside of your duties as a financial advisor.

> Explore the outdoors
One way to boost attendance of your event to organize a seasonal activity that gets the children outside and away from their mobile devices.

For example, Ortencio’s team has hosted pumpkin- and apple-picking events and a trip to a farm. With outdoor events, however, weather can be uncooperative, so be sure to have a backup plan.

> Make it educational
Invite clients’ families to visit a museum. Schacter’s firm has brought client’s and their families to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Agriculture Museum in Ottawa.

With family-friendly events, you can opt to extend the invitation to clients’ guests as well. But, Ortencio says, you should not approach these outings from a “prospecting perspective.”

Instead, appreciation events should always be centred on pleasing the clients, giving back to them and demonstrating how important their business is, Schacter says.

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