2022 was a turbulent year full of bleak news and pessimistic prediction, with many clients seeing the value of their investments go down, writes Debbie Dry, head of business development at JustFA.
We can’t influence markets or control politics, but we can deliver a consistently excellent service to our customers. This article aims to provide advice on improving customer satisfaction, regardless of what 2023 may bring.
To communicate effectively with clients, we must bear in mind that clients consume information in a different way than advisers. For example, while you may filter out most of the emails and post you receive, retired clients are known to enjoy browsing financial press and newsletters. In fact, research shows that clients appreciate emails and newsletters, even if they don’t read them.
It is estimated that the business and finance newsletter open rate in 2022 was 21%. So, for your communication to be in that 21%, here are four things to keep in mind.
First, it’s 50% more likely that communication is read if it is personally addressed. Second, give yourself the edge by making the headline punchy, clear, and personalised. Third, the average time people spent reading newsletters was around 10 seconds.
So, use that time wisely to hook your reader in by conveying our message as quickly as you can. And for those who stick around, make sure you have a clear “call to action”, answering the golden question “so what?” at the end.
When communicating with clients, most firms have a set approach they have not reviewed in years. Why not shake things up in 2023? You could consider your format: how many clients would prefer an email over a printed newsletter? Or maybe it’s time to think about the frequency of your communication: how often do your clients want to hear from you?
An article once a week or an extensive newsletter each quarter? The most important thing is knowing what you want to achieve when reaching out to clients. Do you want to generate referrals, new business or enquiries from existing clients? Making it clear what the reader needs to do next will help you achieve your objective.
Embracing new forms of technology will add real value to your communication strategy in 2023. Nowadays it is impossible to communicate with clients effectively without using social media scheduling tools, Google Analytics and a CMS (content management system). While technology can help you communicate with your clients more effectively, a well-constructed feedback system, such as a Net Promoter Score, can help improve referral rates.
Trust is a huge part of our business, and the need for a first-rate client experience has never been greater. It has always been the case that starting with you and your services is a big moment for your clients, requiring a huge amount of trust. A common problem at this stage is that there is often a significant gap in communication between the discovery meeting and the production of the report.
Some clients will feel anxious going for weeks without an update. That can be easily combated by spreading the information out over a period of time, for example, by issuing a summary of what you have learned about the client and their objectives after the discovery meeting. Why not reassure your clients by giving information regularly and keeping in close contact throughout the process?
And finally – use a different tone of voice with a different types of clients. What has emerged more recently is the unsettling statistic stating that 70% of heirs fire their parents’ financial advisers. That is partly due to advisors not being capable of adjusting to new types of clients.
This is often talked about in the same breath as “intergenerational wealth transfer”, an expected £5.5trn ($6.7trn, €6.3trn) to be passed down to the next generation.
However, some advice firms proudly say that they work with families, either engaging directly with the children of clients or indirectly with the children and grandchildren who have become beneficiaries of gifting during their lifetime. This type of work builds trust, cements relationships and allows you to build a service for the younger generation ahead of time.
It comes with fresh challenges, such as recognising how these young investors want to consume these services, what services and products they may need and how they like to communicate. Reaching these young investors is an opportunity to create a holistic approach to families and intergenerational planning.
The need for advice will, of course, remain in 2023 and beyond. Economic uncertainty only helps to shine a light on the role of advisers, helping clients and their families navigate choppy waters.
Through consistent assessment of your communication, the adoption of integrated digital tools, listening to client feedback and providing a modern service, your firm can ensure sustainability, growth and, above all, client satisfaction.
This article was written for International Adviser by Debbie Dry, head of business development at JustFA.