How would you like to capitalize on the holiday season like an elite advisor? I’m sure many of you would be nodding in the affirmative. Their secret can be boiled down into one word—planning.
Which, by the way, is the one word that defines every aspect of an elite advisor's high level of professionalism. Nothing is left to chance. There is rarely a last-minute scramble to pull something together. That said, let me walk you through five holiday season planning steps that I’ve been able to distill from our best practices of elite advisors file.
Five Holiday Season Planning Steps
Step 1. Take Inventory
There is no such thing as “static” when it comes to a financial advisor’s client base, so taking inventory at year-end is simply a good business practice. However, assessing client relationships prior to the holiday season, rather than at year-end, enables elite advisors to segment their client base regarding holiday gifts and social events.
Conducting your client inventory begins with conducting a net-profit-contribution analysis. But this goes beyond revenue generated by each client. We’ve found it most effective when your assessment also includes assets under management, potential (asset consolidation, serious income potential, large inheritance) and center-of-influence status. If a client qualifies for any one of these, they deserve serious attention this holiday season.
Step 2. Holiday Budget
You need a clearly defined budget in order to execute on the deliverables (Step 4).Think in terms of between 25% to 50% of your annual relationship management-relationship marketing budget, as well as the level of assistance, if any, from outside partners, and your broker/dealer.
Step 3. Holiday Batching
This is where you sit down with your team and determine which clients get what. Usually clients are segmented into four categories: event invitations, gifts, holiday cards or some combination. Input from team members is extremely useful as they often uncover information that isn’t obvious and offer suggestions accordingly. Typically, your top clients, who are also advocates, will receive some combination of the aforementioned. Also, elite advisors will usually include referral alliance partners in this step.
Step 4. Holiday Deliverables
Obviously, this is where your budget comes to life. Now that you’ve classified your clients (and referral alliance partners) into one of the four batches, you’re ready to determine the budget for each and the exact nature of your deliverables, social events, gifts and cards. Again, this step is best completed with input from team members.
Step 5. Execution
Who is responsible for what? Selecting the intimate social venues, reserving the space, handling the invitations, etc. requires both delegation and a drop-dead date for completion. Ditto for gifts and cards. Who on the team will be organizing, obtaining and delivering gifts? Who’s going to handle the holiday cards? Who from the team is attending each social event?
And don’t overlook Halloween. Although it isn’t usually considered to be a major holiday, it’s big with grandchildren and provides a number of opportunities for a personal gesture. Thanksgiving continues to be a favorite holiday for many families, while the month of December speaks for itself.
Elite advisors recognize that this is the time of year to connect with clients, strengthen relationships and further penetrate their affluent clients’ spheres of influence. Which is why it requires serious advance planning. Granted, this is work, an investment of time and resources. But the payoff is real and long-lasting.
Matt Oechsli is author of How to Build a 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing, and Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com