Nowadays, our profession is focused on the value proposition we offer to clients.
Whether we make our daily bread via commissions, fees or some other model doesn’t matter. While market sands are shifting fast beneath our feet and technology and its human creators are struggling for supremacy, customers demand ever-more attention and personalized service. If you want to survive, let alone thrive, you’d better respond without delay.
It’s still a new year and there’s ample time to improve your service to clients. Don’t wait for them to ask. Your first value-added service should be a review of each client’s case to discover what’s lacking. If you’re short of ideas, we have nine to offer that can improve your business proposition for customers, ultimately to the benefit of your client book and bottom line.
Which service do clients, both newly acquired and long on your books, most highly value from their advisors? Research published in the Journal of Financial Planning suggests – and this shows how essential truths can get lost in the forest – that it’s simply this: financial planning.
Paring the matter to the bone, they seek the personalized touch. Apply the skills you learned in basic training: get to know your clients, delve into their family story and structure, their plans for the future, dreams for retirement and charitable giving. Get them to set specific goals and don’t be shy about encouraging them to meet their self-imposed investment standards. Customers like this approach as it makes the grand task more tangible, disciplined and measurable – day by day, year by year, they can see their progress. As your career progresses and your offering matures, don’t neglect the basics – that’s why the clients came in the first place.
Consolidation is a simple service that’s increasingly demanded by clients globally. Everyone has vast amounts of information to track: assets, accounts, investments, statements, logins and passwords, cloud storage locations, credit card and bank accounts – the long list of the usual suspects. Even the best-managed estates can have trouble tracking it all.
If a person becomes incapacitated by illness or accident or passes away, their agents and heirs will need quick access to all of that data. If it’s scattered among folders and files on multitude laptops, tablets and phones both at home and in your office, sorely needed time can be lost with potentially costly or even tragic consequences. Consolidating asset and other vital information into a single statement may not ring the client’s bells right away, but one day, it may provide a lifesaving service.
No matter how well a portfolio is performing or how on-track the investment plan may be, costs are always a nuisance, an irritant to clients that could encourage them to shift business elsewhere. Look for ways to cut expenses, perhaps by choosing more economical product providers, and present your ideas to customers. We’re sure they’ll welcome this kind of surprise bonus and thank you for your prudent management.
Legal and regulatory changes have improved access to unusual financial products for ordinary customers. Have you taken advantage of these opportunities? Examine your firm’s offerings to see if you’ve missed anything fresh and promising. Surprising a client with an unanticipated opportunity is a fine way to demonstrate superior service.
Tax planning, that tried and true companion, is still relevant in the current low-tax environment. The bunching of charitable donations and Roth IRA conversions are two popular, easily grasped solutions that can help reduce tax bills dramatically – a good tax-mitigation strategy can save 15-20% of the annual bill. You know what people think about taxes: here’s your chance to make them smile.
For more information, please read:
9 ways advisers can add value for clients | Investment News