Having more “engaged” clients is one of the best ways to help you fuel greater growth in your financial advisory practice, says Julie Littlechild, CEO of Advisor Impact Inc. in Toronto. That is the verdict passed down in the latest Economics of Loyalty survey report, released late last month by Advisor Impact Inc. and the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC), both of Toronto.

Engaged clients are those who are active participants in the management of their finances and are receptive to their advisors’ services.

The report details how relationships with engaged clients can be among the most profitable to your business.

“When you boil it down, clients are looking for somebody who helps them plan for their future,” Littlechild says. “Engagement is very fundamental to human beings.”

Littlechild offers the following tips on how you can boost levels of engagement among your clients to begin forming more productive relationships:

> Understand that “satisfied” is not enough
Typically, what makes your clients “satisfied” is the level of your day-to-day service. For example, you always return your clients’ calls and meet with them when they need to talk about their portfolio.

“Those things are fundamental to a good relationship,” Littlechild says. “But they won’t truly engage clients.”

Scheduling that extra meeting or returning phone calls more quickly is not enough to transform your satisfied clients into engaged clients. “You need to take a more foundational and a holistic approach,” Littlechild says

Start by providing more customized, personalized services to your clients.

> Look to the family
One of the most effective steps you can take toward creating engaged clients is to look beyond the individual client to his or her family unit.

“Tactically, we really see [looking at family issues] as one area that can be really engaging for clients and beneficial for advisors,” Littlechild says.

For example, you could help your clients with estate planning and craft a strategy for transferring wealth between generations. You might also recommend programs to boost children’s financial literacy. These activities will have an impact with clients because you will be seen as the family’s “leader” on their financial issues.

“We found in all of these areas strong correlations of being engaged and having access to this more holistic view of the [client-advisor] relationship.

> Cultivate centres of influence
Another approach to helping foster engaged clients is to position yourself as the centre of financial activity for your clients.

Your goal would be to become the “quarterback” of your client’s interactions with other professionals, such as lawyers and accountants.

If you are not a tax or estate-planning specialist, for example, it helps to develop good relationships with professionals who work in these areas to whom you can refer clients.

Having these strong relationships will help establish you as the “hub” and not the “spoke” in your client’s financial world to help facilitate a more engaging client experience.

This is the first instalment in an occasional series on how client engagement can benefit your practice. Next: How to be seen as a leader by your clients.