Learning to communicate effectively with your clients is crucial to the success of your financial advisor education, and ultimately the relationships you build with your customers and their families. Financial advisor client communications are vital to developing trust and camaraderie with the people you serve.

In a 2019 survey, 85% of respondents said that communication style would be considered when deciding whether to retain an investment advisor.

Greg Hammer is a Yale graduate with a degree in applied mathematics who has spent the last decade with C2P, learning how to simplify the financial planning process and communicate more effectively with clients.

In a recent episode of the Bucket Plan On-Demand Podcast, he and Dave Alison discussed proven metaphors and relatable examples you can start using right away to help your customers better understand the role of an investment advisor and the benefits of working with one.

Greg’s holistic advisory firm services 800 clients per year. Greg attributes much of his growth to the financial advisor education he has received and the communication methods he has refined throughout his career.

The first meeting can be overwhelming for a new client.

Greg recommends explaining upfront that you’re going to be throwing a lot of information at them in a very short period of time.

Encourage them to ask questions but let them know that it’s okay if they don’t understand everything.

That’s why they hired you.

When you take your car to the shop, do you understand everything the mechanic says, or does or do you put your trust in the expert to handle it?

Financial planning is no different.

“I tell my clients to think of me as the mechanic. I need to lift the hood and show you what’s going on. That’s my job as a fiduciary. But after our relationship grows—if you never want to look under the hood again, I’m good with that. When you want me to shut up, just tell me to shut the hood!”

-Greg Hammer

You could spend all day explaining every detail of the portfolio, running through possible scenarios and market forecasts. But most clients don’t want that—they just want to come in annually for a tune-up. Unless the check engine light comes on, they don’t want to worry about it.

A good investment advisor prevents breakdowns when they can. And when they can’t—they pop the hood back open and fix the problem at its source.

The mechanic analogy is easy to understand.

When you inevitably hit them with a bunch of jargon and acronyms, your client will feel less bombarded if they know upfront that they don’t need to comprehend every little thing you say.

They don’t have to understand how the engine works because they hired an expert. You’ll see immediate relief on their faces when you reiterate this.

However, the client is still responsible for the upkeep of their portfolio. There will always be gaps in the plan and changes to the market. You can’t take a set it and forget it approach to retirement.

A brand-new car still requires maintenance, after all. You have to change the oil, rotate the tires, and check for any damage or vulnerabilities.

There is a reason that financial advisor education is a continuous process—things tend to change quicky.

“Just because you didn’t see the pothole doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt.”

-Greg Hammer

Life happens. When you get a flat tire, you assess, adjust, and continue on your journey.

Ongoing holistic financial planning will account for adjustments and life changes. Retirement planning is like a road trip, sometimes your priorities change, and you need to alter your destination entirely.

An investment advisor should ask simple, decisive, open, and direct questions.

The more data you gather, the better your decision-making will be throughout the planning process.

For instance—instead of flying blind and reworking the Income Gap Assessment over and over, simply ask the customer an honest question.

How much money do you want guaranteed in your financial plan when you retire?

Now you know how much you need to put in annuities—it’s as simple as that.

On a recent episode of the Rainmaker Multiplier On-Demand Podcast, Bryan Bibbo and DC Chamberlin recommend scheduling quarterly financial advisor client communications with your VIP customers to keep them updated on how their accounts are performing and ask questions about what is going on in their life.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask them questions about themselves and their families. You want to connect with them on a human level, even if that’s through such commonalities as sports teams or musical tastes.

Here Are Some Common Questions to Ask Your Clients

  • Has your family experienced any major life events recently?
    • Graduation
    • Promotion
    • Retirement
    • Engagement
    • Marriage
    • Divorce
    • Birth
    • Medical Diagnosis
    • Death
  • Do you have any expected milestones coming up?
  • Are you planning a vacation or other large expenditure?
  • Are you considering any surgeries or medical procedures?
  • Do you have any new financial needs, concerns, or goals since we last spoke?

How can you utilize various financial advisor client communications to develop your relationships further and provide continued value throughout all stages of the customer lifecycle?

Consider a card or flowers depending on the occasion. You can also use promotional products or corporate gifts around the holiday season to say thank you and stay top of mind going into the new year.

Bryan recalled a client whose wife was turning 60, and he mentioned they were planning a trip to Tahiti for her birthday. Before the trip, his team sent them a travel book on Tahiti.

Dave Alison suggests going so far as to ask where they’re staying and have a nice bottle of wine sent to their room.

Want to learn more simple, effective financial advisor client communications? Schedule a free 20-minute consultation with one of our Business Development Representatives to see how we can help you build stronger relationships with your customers.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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