How to Best Communicate With Your Clients – Today and Tomorrow

 

These two articles consider client communication issues – the first around best use of interpersonal skills and the second around leveraging technology – in order to maximise the value of the adviser/client relationship and to deliver a great outcome for the client.

 

How to be a Risk Advice Guru and Still Make the Sale

Potential clients will assume that as an adviser you have the skills and knowledge to meet their needs, and you know how to communicate that information to them. But do you know when to stop talking, confident that what you have presented is enough to engage the client and bring them on board? In this article, Sue Viskovic reminds advisers that providing too much information to clients is just as unlikely to convince them as it is when providing too little…

 

I’ve been thinking about a session I had with an incredibly talented professional recently, reflecting on how easy it can be to lose a prospective client.

I can’t help but draw parallels with some client experiences we’ve seen in our advice businesses, where there is in fact a technical service being provided in an area where a little knowledge can be dangerous.

There’s a limit to how much knowledge you share, and the timing with which you share it.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

I know of the term SEO and what it is supposed to do for you (get your website on page 1 of Google searches), but until recently I hadn’t invested a great deal of effort or focus on it.

How does this compare to risk advice, I hear you asking. Well, like your potential clients, I had a few thoughts already in my head about SEO, but I wasn’t totally convinced about it. The similarities are uncanny – kind of like:

Through our co-working space, I met an expert in SEO and sat down to discuss it with him – in part, for our own website, and also so I could learn more about it to assist our advisers.

I made it clear that I felt it’s important to be able to measure (and achieve) tangible results – a rule I’ve always held for any spend in marketing. I was also wary of the ‘black magic’ that is the Google algorithms, and the potential for people to be sucked in with promises from a provider who uses jargon and smoke and mirrors to pretend they have the ability to manipulate something that cannot be controlled.

After the initial ‘high-level’ chats, we discussed my website assets, and what I was wanting to achieve from them. Take a look at my thought process below and think about how a risk client could follow something similar when they’ve been referred to your services – but they’re still not entirely convinced that they need them:

 

Through this exercise, my thinking quickly went from:

  • “This is a thing I’ve heard about but we’re doing okay on our own”, to:
  • “Actually, there’s a lot I don’t know and maybe I need to get some help with it”, to:
  • “Now I can see that my situation isn’t set up perfectly, and I can see it’d be worth getting help.”

As I spoke with my SEO guru it quickly became apparent that he knew an awful lot about the subject and while he was incredibly generous in sharing a lot of his knowledge with me, I got the sense that I was still barely scratching the surface of his knowledge. My thinking turned to “he is the guru and I want to access his expertise”.

Then as he shared more detailed knowledge, my eyes started to glaze over, and I knew I was in unchartered waters – I knew that he knew the terrain, but I was way out of my depth. The more he talked the more disconnected I felt.

When I consider this process, there were two fundamental challenges:

1. He kept talking long after I had ’emotionally bought’ his skill and expertise, so he nearly talked himself out of an engagement.
2. He had no clearly defined way that I could engage him – no defined process we might follow and no price point or quote.

Since there was no clear path in how I could engage him, ie: “I will take you through the following steps and my fee will be $x”, I was the one who had to think about what I could get him to do first and how I could engage him, as well as considering if the return on investment would be worth the expense.

How can you, as an adviser, get the first four thoughts and engage the client before their eyes glaze over and their anxiety levels paralyse them into inaction and sticking with their status quo? If you can tick these boxes, you’ll be doing okay:

In the end, I was able to find a way in which I could engage my SEO guru friend, and he has been tremendously helpful for us. When I think about how close he came to talking me out of doing business with him, I reflect on how some advisers have also lost the opportunity to change the lives of their potential clients.

The art of winning new clients lies in the process you take them through, the ability to motivate them with an emotional connection, and to educate them just enough to realise the importance of getting it right – and to trust that you are the person to help them.

Your success with winning and keeping new clients relies not only what you say to them, but also in knowing when to stop saying anything at all.

Sue Viskovic is the founder of national consulting business Elixir Consulting. She recently launched the fifth edition of the Adviser Pricing Models Research Report.

 

Building a Post 2020 Advisory Practice

According to Mentor Education Group’s MD, Mark Sinclair and its Chair, Adjunct Professor Jim Taggart, the business model for the advisory practice of the new era is in the making today…

 

Although it’s difficult to predict what the future holds for the financial advisory sector post 2020 there is one certainty: there’s no room for anything that doesn’t create value for the client.

The business model for the advisory practice of tomorrow is in the making today – and the advice business that can’t reinvent itself to accommodate this has no future at all.

For all the upheaval associated with the Royal Commission, FASEA and new academic requirements, history has repeatedly demonstrated that where there is change, there is opportunity.

But regrettably, far too many advisers are drowning in negativity and uncertainty as they search in vain to maintain relevance for irrelevant business models.

Let’s start from the beginning with the current ‘old world’ premise that a good practice can only accommodate 200 clients charging between $5,000 – $10,000 annually for its service offering.

This notion completely fails to appreciate that business wealth, value and goodwill is in the relationships of the enterprise.

The SoAs, investment strategy, risk insurance, etc are just the tangible outputs of the advice process – activities that can and should be continuously streamlined through automation, outsourcing and technology to be made more and more cost effective for the client.

No-one can argue that technology has impacted the provision of financial advice in positive ways by simplifying processes, workflows and exchange of information.

Yet instead of using this advantage to increase the mobility of the adviser to spend this time improving relationships, the opposite has occurred.
Advisers have used compliance to deflect criticism and for becoming isolated inside their 200 client / $5,000-a-year service fee silos – and in doing so – have lost their face-to-face interpersonal and entrepreneurial advantages.

Time and again the warnings have been made about downward pressure on fees and margins that is only going to intensify in the coming years, and these current models are simply unsustainable and doomed in the new era of advice professionalism.
Dr Mark Sinclair, founder and Managing Director of Mentor Education, added that giving clients what they want, when they want it, will seem like an impossibility.

But as new technologies have come to market, they’ve made it easier for practices to provide this high level of compliant service as well as increasing the number of channels through which to interact with clients and generate more revenue for the advice business.

Such technologies include:

  • Customer Relationship Management journey management tools to automate and personalise client messages via the client’s preferred medium, be it email, SMS or social media
  • Video conferencing, coupled with secure remote digital signatures, integrated with everyday office applications, enabling advisers to increase the number of quality, meaningful and efficient client interactions
  • Data management and analytics that can integrate with reporting dashboards to keep advisers abreast of how their key performance indicators are tracking and alert them to areas needing attention
  • Workflow automation tools to streamline internal processes to improve efficiency and reduce the variable client service delivery costs
    App development tools that convert internal spreadsheets into lead generation tools, self-service client calculators or advice tools used in video or face-to-face client meetings
  • Newsletter generation applications that allow advisers to drag and drop up-to-date, relevant articles into a customisable template, with different versions emailed to appropriate client segments
  • Data capture tools, such as mini fact-find and risk needs analysis calculators, to review and manage client information immediately during client meetings using interactive web forms

Advice businesses should be leveraging today’s trends in technology, communication and outsourcing to create compliant service offerings and interpersonal frameworks that clients will willingly purchase and refer to their business associates, friends and family post 2020.

While the benefits of technology can’t be disputed, it’s important to recognise that human beings are built for personal relationships and the benefits of such connections can’t be duplicated in any other way but in person.

It’s alarming how many advisers currently miss opportunities for better financial, lifestyle protection and retirement outcomes for clients due to their lack of face-to-face activities with clients.

Where possible, given current circumstances, the bulk of an adviser’s time should be in front of their clients as personal interaction builds loyalty – and the more loyal the clients, the more likely they are to refer the practice to friends, family and business associates.

These referrals are far more cost effective to the business and reflect the power of the business brand and personal reputation of the adviser.

For the ideal example of the structure a ‘new world’ professional adviser should aspire to beyond 2020 to optimise/maximise client facing time, look no further than the Barrister (financial adviser) in Chambers that receives a brief prepared by a Solicitor (paraplanner) – or highly regarded medical specialist that is able to maximise time with the patient (client) via a support structure that presents the case file with sufficient information for informed action, make a diagnosis, undertake the procedure and follow up advice.

There’s no doubt that building the advice business of the future will be tough. Business-building has never been an easy task and while some advisers are going to let the future slip from their grasp, others see it coming and are responding.

Mark Sinclair in the managing director of Mentor Education, and Jim Taggart is the firm’s chairman.

 

Click below to start the quiz and scroll up if you need to refer back to the article.

There are five questions and you’ll need to get at least four correct to earn your CPD points.

If you get less than four correct, you can re-take this quiz. But only two attempts are allowed!

Scroll to Top