Financial advisor client retention is near the top of the list of successful practices. Advisors tend to go “all in” in their never-ending pursuit of delivering superior service and client retention. They set up systems to avoid paperwork errors.
Financial advisors tend to work long hours to reply to every customer request. They rally their staff to treat every client as if they’re family.
Despite this concerted effort, advisors may wonder to what extent it’s paying off. Do clients actually notice the level of service they’re receiving?
Asking for their feedback is one of the keys to enhance the client experience, says Cameo Roberson, a San Francisco-based business coach. As founder of Atlas Park Consulting & Finance, she works with advisors to help them grow their practice.
• View Full Special Report
In this interview with IBD, Roberson shares strategies to strengthen client outreach, tighten operational efficiency and boost team morale within the firm.
Financial Advisor Client Retention Starts With Surveys
IBD: What steps can financial advisors take to improve client service?
Cameo Roberson: They can survey their clients and ask, “What services do you most value?” This helps them know what services matter most.
IBD: What other questions should advisors ask?
Roberson: They can ask, “Is there anything we can change to make you more comfortable?” and “Is there anything you’d like us to do differently?”
IBD: What if you can’t accommodate their preferences?
Roberson: Asking if there’s anything clients would like you to do differently can give you ideas on how to improve. It can be something simple and easy for you to change like adjusting how you communicate with clients — by text or email — if that’s what they want.
Cost-Effective Ways For Enhancing Service
IBD: Any other cost-effective ways financial advisors can enhance their service?
Roberson: Find out what your colleagues are doing. One advisor I know is hosting lifestyle events online, not just for clients but for their children. Having a clown or magician perform online for clients’ kids has worked out great. It shows that the advisor is invested in the whole family and that they see the client as more than just another account. You can also host online wine-tastings or other activities to engage clients socially.
IBD: For an advisor to provide great service, the staff has to buy in. How can advisors rally employees to view customer service as a priority?
Roberson: First, make sure you have consistent meetings with your team and reinforce the importance of service. And to lift morale in these uncertain times, don’t do all the talking. Let employees share what’s going on in their world. Ask, “How are you doing?” and let them open up.
IBD: But if they complain or share sad or troubling news, won’t that hurt morale?
Roberson: As long as you really listen to them and let them know that you hear them, you’ll have an impact. Maybe you can take some things off their plate if they’re going through hard times. Maybe you can shift some of their tasks to another team member. A big part of leadership is letting people know, “I’m here to help. We’re all here for each other.”
IBD: Speaking of leadership, what can financial advisors do to foster teamwork that results in better service?
Encouraging Teamwork In Financial Advisor Client Retention
Roberson: They can share challenges that they’re dealing with. Opening up to your team encourages them to be transparent and vulnerable as well. You’re modeling what you want them to do, and that brings everyone closer.
IBD: As much as they want to offer great service, advisors can sabotage themselves if they run the business poorly. How can they tighten up the administrative side?
Roberson: Many advisors have been doing business as usual for years. Covid-19 has exposed operational cracks in their business in a major way. If you didn’t optimize your ability to meet clients virtually before, now you’re forced to. To address operational inefficiencies, advisors need to step back from the table and look at how they manage their practice. They need to look at how they deliver services and how they can improve service delivery.
IBD: Can you give examples of how to build efficiencies into the system?
Roberson: Something as simple as online appointment scheduling (software) helps. Using these tools, like Setmore or Calendly, lets clients set up an appointment with you on your website. And having a client portal on your website enables clients to access their financial information faster and creates a more interactive client experience.
IBD: What traps do financial advisors tend to fall into in their effort to improve service?
Roberson: Some advisors are reactive: The client calls and they react. If you do that, you never get a grasp of how to do better. It also doesn’t allow you to standardize your process. If you standardize your process, you can scale your practice in a repeatable way so that you don’t miss any steps. The last thing you want to do is go back to the client and say, “We missed this.”
Traps To Avoid
IBD: Other traps to avoid?
Roberson: Don’t wing it when it comes to client meetings. Have an agenda of what you want to cover. And don’t wing it when completing paperwork. Set up checklists and templates for all your processes such as data gathering with new clients. You want a systematic way of collecting all the information you need upfront without missing anything.
IBD: What should advisors be doing to engage clients and maximize client retention during the pandemic?
Roberson: Take your client list, divide it up and have you and your employees make regular calls. Ask, “How are you doing? How’s your family?” End the calls by setting expectations of when you plan to check in with them again, such as reminding them you have an appointment scheduled next quarter. And say your door is always open if they want to talk before then. Leave voice mails if you don’t reach them.
IBD: Any other tips to maximize the benefit of these calls?
Roberson: Take notes. I do that all the time. If a client says something like, “I want to improve my LinkedIn networking skills,” I’ll note that in the client profile of my (customer relationship management platform). Later on, I may send that client a link to an article on how to improve LinkedIn networking skills. This lets the client know I was listening. And it can reinvigorate what they set out to do.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Jazz Up Your Life With ‘Pure Joy’ Like The Synopsys CEO
Set Goals That Work By Sweeping Away Fears
Inspirational Quotes: William Faulkner, Roger Staubach, Todd Stitzer And Others
IBD Digital: Unlock IBD’s Premium Stock Lists, Tools And Analysis Today
MarketSmith: Research, Charts, Data And Coaching All In One Place