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3 Ways for Independent Financial Advisors To Improve Client Communications

These days, more Americans than ever before have some exposure to investment markets. For some, the exposure is due to a retirement savings account. For others, it’s because they’ve inherited a portfolio or other assets they’ve used to invest. That new reality translates into a whole lot more people in need of quality investment advice. And there’s every reason to believe that trend will continue.

Fortunately, it’s a trend that coincides with a sharp rise in the number of independent registered investment advisers (RIA). And for them, this is an opportunity to build a thriving business. The key to doing so, however, is for them to find ways to differentiate themselves from the financial advisors working for large brokerage firms. The good news is that there’s a surefire way to do it: make client communication the central focus of their business.

Survey after survey indicates that poor communication’s the primary reason that investors switch financial advisors. So, offering clients clear, reliable, and informative communication offers an effective strategy for independent financial advisors to thrive. Here are three simple ways they can improve their client communications to build a large and thriving business.

Offer Multichannel Communications

One of the reasons that client communication is so hard is that no two clients are ever alike. Each individual will always have their own preferred communication style and needs. Whereas one client will be fine with a monthly email summary of their portfolio’s progress, others will want to get answers about financial minutiae at all hours of the day and night. This puts independent advisors at something of a disadvantage compared to big brokerages.

To overcome it, independent advisors must offer multiple channels of communication to satisfy any conceivable demand. At a minimum, they should have a capable business phone system, preferably with advanced features like videoconferencing, auto-attendant, and integrated voice response. The point is to offer clients as many ways to make contact as possible without it turning into an unmanageable workload for the advisor. With enough automation, even a one-person financial shop can give its clients the feeling that they’re working with a whole team of advisors, all dedicated to helping them when and how they wish.

On top of that, it’s a good idea for independent financial advisors to invest in building self-service options for clients. These days, there are third-party services that allow financial professionals to offer online client portals that rival those of the big brokerages. They also handle security and regulatory requirements, too. By adding one to their client communications arsenal, independent financial advisors can keep clients happy and then some.

Create a Communications Schedule

Another excellent way for independent financial advisors to offer top-notch client communications is to learn how to develop and stick to a client communications calendar. Doing so involves working with each new client—preferably during the onboarding process—to create a schedule listing when and how they can expect communications and what information they’ll receive.

The reason a communications calendar works so well is that it helps to manage the client’s expectations and gives the advisor an exact way to be certain to meet those expectations. It also helps to eliminate the need for unnecessary work. For example, if a particular client doesn’t need weekly progress reports, that’s one less time-consuming task for the advisor to perform. And on the other side of that equation, it prevents the advisor from over-communicating in a way that a client might find intrusive or unnecessary.

Plan Regular Client Interviews

Although it might seem like a strange thing to do with existing clients, it’s a good idea for independent financial advisors to schedule regular client interviews. These don’t need to be lengthy conferences—just enough to ask direct questions to intuit any changes to the client’s needs or plans they may not have mentioned. It’s an effort that helps the advisor stay a few steps ahead of the client, so they can create proactive rather than reactive investment strategies.

For example, a typical client interview might include questions about potential changes to retirement plans, or any new life goals they may have set for themselves. It’s never a good idea to assume that a client will self-report such things. However, they will certainly say something once the bills associated with their changes start coming in.

Developing a preset interview list is a great way to go about the strategy. Plan to ask each client about any noteworthy life events, approaching milestones, or any new needs or concerns they’ve thought of since their last contact. Doing this will almost always yield useful information and is one of the most valuable specific client communication tactics there is.

Reaping the Rewards

By putting the three tips covered above into action, independent financial advisors can make the most out of the growing list of potential clients out there. Moreover, they can keep those clients once they’re onboarded through rich, reliable, and high-quality communications practices. Plus, they can do so without creating too much work for themselves. In other words, it’s a no-risk, high-reward strategy that all but guarantees sustained success.

Featured Image: Unsplash

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