If you’re lucky, there’s a moment in your career where a trend that you bet everything on starts to gain popular traction. For me, that trend is personalization and that moment came during the first session of the 2022 T3 Advisor Conference when Advisor Engine CEO Rich Cancro weighed in on the power of customized engagement.
So why do I—along with the speakers and sponsors at T3—see personalization as the wave of the future? That’s simple. Client expectations.
Take a moment to think about your clients’ lives and the companies they interact with most frequently. Netflix? Personalized recommendations. Facebook? Targeted ads to reflect your interests. Amazon? Remembers everything you bought, liked, or mentioned to your second at a birthday party three months ago.
In other words: People expect personalization and customization. So, building this type of experience for your clients is fast becoming table stakes to make sure your services feel current and relevant next to the rest of their lives.
With that in mind, here are some of the trends and ideas for personalizing your practice that I spotted at T3 and beyond.
Communications and Marketing
One of the easiest ways to make your services feel personal is via improved client communications. And one of the easiest ways to improve your communications is through segmentation.
Segmentation is what it sounds like: Grouping your clients into different segments. You can do this using your CRM. In fact, if you tag your clients—noting who has student loans, for example—you’re already creating segments.
How do segments help you personalize communication? Well, if the president were to announce student loan forgiveness, you could email ONLY your clients with student loans to explore what that policy shift might mean. It’s showing those clients you’ve got their backs, without cluttering the inboxes of retirees who likely don’t care.
You can also take an easy step towards personalizing your communications by making sure any email you send reflects YOU. If you work with a marketing service or content provider, make sure to add personalized details. As so many at T3 pointed out: Clients will notice the added effort.
Or better yet, consider using video content in your email communications or on your website. If you visited Podcast Alley at T3, you saw the power of video in action—it’s one of the easiest ways to infuse your personality into emails, social media, or your website.
These days, clients expect some form of online portal, which creates an opportunity for advisors. So how do you build the best portal experience?
Pick ONE platform for them to log into. Ideally all of your technology talks to each other via integrations.
If you aren’t sure what to use as your main portal, look at your tech stack and consider two things:
- How each provider lets YOU customize the experience, and how they might let CLIENTS customize the experience; and
- The type of online experience your clients would benefit from most (that might be planning, performance, or both).
Once you’ve selected a portal, put your stamp on it. If you are “John Doe Advisors,” and you ask your clients to log in to Schwab, and there is no “John Doe” branding, you’re ceding a client connection to Schwab. (Which isn’t a knock on Schwab, you just want that engagement for your own firm.)
Depending on what the provider allows, this might be creating a full white label experience, adding your branding, or simply making sure your clients log-in to the portal from your site, instead of the provider’s. The key is to insert yourself into the experience since you’re their advisor.
Take yourself through the log in experience from start to finish as if you’re a client and make sure it’s creating the impressions you want it to. This is also a good way to test out the ways clients might be able to personalize the experience and makes it easier for you to answer questions that come up.
The next frontier of personalization may not feel as obvious: portfolios.
Advisors who manage investments in house often face a dilemma: Use portfolio models that make scaling easy or build personalized portfolios that suck up time. But finding middle ground—personalized, scalable investment strategies—may be key to winning over the next generation of clients.
It's no secret that a growing number of folks want their investments to reflect their values, whatever those values may be. As more advisors figure out ways to create portfolios that do just that, the advisors who don’t risk losing clients. Start to think about possible funds or services that help you incorporate client values and preferences into their portfolios.
Or, if that’s a step too far right now, consider using client reports to personalize the way you talk about performance. Even if you don’t change anything about a clients’ investments, you may be able to frame the conversation so that existing investments are discussed in the context of broader values.
Creating a customized framework can achieve a similar goal without revamping your entire investment strategy.
Publicize Your Personalization
Whatever you decide to lean in to on the personalization front—and hopefully after this article you have a few ideas to get started—make sure you publicize your efforts.
As more advisors work to build a personalized experience, clients and prospects are going to expect it. That means highlighting what makes YOUR firm unique is going to become an integral part of your value proposition. If you build fully custom portfolios to reflect your clients’ values, say that.
In many ways, this is applying that same principle of personalization to your own firm. And it’s going to be a game changer going forward.
Shawna Ohm is the founder of Content 151.