Al Green Copyright Lisa Maree Williams, Getty Images

Take a Cue from Al Green

Staying with clients through times “good or bad, happy or sad,” means choosing to talk to them now, when markets are doing well, rather than waiting until you have to, after the inevitable downturn.

Financial skies may have seemed bright in 2017, but now is the time to start talking to clients about their “rainy day” fund. 

It may seem counterintuitive to talk doom and gloom after a year in which U.S. markets closed at record highs more than 50 times. Wouldn’t this be the time to tout gains?

But as a savvy advisor, you know it’s when clients are feeling the most confident to remind them that the good times won’t last, and their investments may not always be so bullish. When the markets are up and their financial plans are stable and good, you’ll find that clients are more receptive to a message preparing them for the inevitable downturn than if you wait to reach out after things go south.

In other words, it’s time to hum a few bars from Al Green’s classic Let’s Stay Togetherespecially that line about doing so when times are good or bad, happy or sad.

Staying together is something we strive to do in our personal and professional relationships, as long as mutual benefits to both parties persist. But as anyone who mustered through Psych 101 (or daytime talk shows) can tell you, the key is communication.

What should you talk to your clients about now? Make sure they understand their investment risks; go through the performance history of their funds; and revisit the plan for their assets when markets fall. Go over any changes in their health, family and professional life. After all, financial disruptions can occur even in the strongest markets.

And how should you talk to them? With technology, there are more ways than ever. Consider newsletters, webinars, and social media—just keep the communication constant and consistent. 

Note that the uber-wealthy are early adopters of communication technology. They already spend around five hours per week in a secure web portal, five hours per week instant messaging and five hours a week social networking, according to recent research.

The wealthiest also communicate significantly more than their less wealthy counterparts. Those with over $4 million devote about 43 hours a week corresponding with others in any fashion, compared to 25 hours per week spent by those with less than $500,000.

Clients are quite literally leaving their digital doors open. Take advantage by creating an editorial calendar for 2018 with scheduled content pushed out at prescribed times. If you’re constrained, you might want to consider finding a reputable marketing firm to help you tailor material so you can focus on client management. 

The key for any content is that it be authentic to your brand and tailored to your client’s needs.

Despite the number of communication channels, research shows wealth clients value phone calls and in person meetings the most. Nothing beats the human touch. Choose to pick up the phone and call your clients now before you’re forced to do it by circumstances beyond your control.

We don’t know when the next financial crisis will hit. Nor do we know if a client’s life will be rocked by severe financial ramifications. But we do know that fortunes can change quickly. Good marketers, and good advisors, know to prepare for a crisis, instead of reacting to it after it happens.

 

April Rudin is a marketing consultant for financial service firms.

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