It's an understatement to say that spring is a hectic time of the year for financial advisors. Tax season and other issues probably have you running at full throttle right now. But with every challenge, a unique opportunity can exist and I've seen in the past how the spring season can be a tremendous time to re-connect with your best clients in a unique and memorable way.
The Signal to Noise Ratio
The velocity of noise your clients are exposed to by news outlets, the internet and competitors is mind boggling. Couple that with the fact that these are still anxious and uncertain times and your clients crave clarity and leadership now more than ever. Your clients' confidence can drift and their conviction in your investment plan and philosophy can be undermined. That said, your service matrix should include a quarterly communication that goes beyond a pure financial message and stands out so that your client tunes you in.
So why not use the seasons as a metaphor in your communications? Send a nice "Welcome to Spring" greeting card. Spring is a time of renewal and with longer days and more warmth and sunshine, people naturally have more anticipation for the future.
The nicest cards you can find that will have the most impact and shelf life can be found at www.lavishcards.com.
Then, in your next conversation with a key client, if they sound a little rattled or uncertain, why not say this:
"The markets are like the seasons. When things are dark and dreary, we're in the middle of winter. But historically speaking, how many times has spring followed winter? Approximately how many times? And then comes summer and then comes the autumn harvest. We have a plan in place to position us to be prepared for the seasons."
If your client starts dwelling on the things out of your control, use another metaphor.
"Well it's like being in a sail boat in the middle of the ocean. We can't control the wind, but we can control the set of the sails. Our long term plan is designed to help us harness the most favorable winds."
This isn't meant as a departure from your usual communication style, simply a complement to inject some personality. Keep in mind, the products and services you provide and firm you represent is your message but you are the messenger. With the commoditization of this business well underway, you need to be creative and communicate in a way that helps you get your clients attention. Everything you say is either a "me-too" that your clients connect with or a "so-what" that doesn't resonate.
They Are on a Need-to-Know Basis
Chances are, many of your best clients don't need to know everything that you know. That's why they hire you. When it comes to your plan and process, they want to know that it works but they don't necessarily need to know how. It's like electricity. I don't really know how it all works, but I know that when I turn on the switch the lights come on.
My point in all of this is that you want to be conscious of being a voice of reason that instills confidence in your clients. And that doesn't always come from technical information. Again, that is the message and if that's all you've got you run the risk of sounding like everyone else and swimming in a pool of sameness.
Facts Tell, Stories Sell
There are other ways to take the abstracts of your business and make them more conceptual while injecting a little personality. One of my favorite books that can ground someone when things are so turbulent was written by John Kenneth Galbraith and is called A Short History of Financial Euphoria. I love this book because it distills several historical events as they relate to the markets and reminds us that circumstances may change but human nature remains the same.
Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson