I just fired my homeowner’s insurance agent today. No joke; that’s exactly what I did, hence the topic for this article. After 4 attempts at reaching her over the last 7 business days, 3 of which were direct conversations with her assistants, I was promised a return call “tomorrow”. Unfortunately, tomorrow never came. And I needed to file a claim, like last week!. So, I found another agent, did my due diligence, spoke to her, and transferred my policy to her. I also explained to her what my meager expectations were. If I called, it was for one of two reasons: a change of coverage or an immediate issue to file a claim. That’s it-That is all she needs to live up to. And yet, my previous agent did not execute on such a simple task. But, she sure called me when I emailed her to terminate my relationship with her. There is an old saying that “if you aren’t talking to your clients, someone else is.” And that, my friends, is number one of the things that every advisor must do, without fail. Let me be more specific:
1. Client Contact
Every client should have a contact schedule. That is entirely up to you but it should be discussed during the onboarding process. Make sure you don’t overextend yourself on this but be specific. At a minimum, each client should have scheduled 6-month in-person detailed reviews or quarterly calls, whatever is appropriate for that specific client and their needs. And live up to that promise-client reviews fall under your fiduciary responsibility and it just makes good business sense. A good practice is to schedule the next meeting before they leave the office(just like my dentist does). That way, it’s on the calendar, it shows consistent business practices and attention to detail and you’ve lived up to the initial part of your commitment.
2. Meetings, Calls, Or Emails Should Have A Purpose
There is nothing lamer than getting a ‘hey, I’m just touching base with you’ call or email. It shows a lack of respect (you are wasting someone’s time, not to mention your own). It also shows a general disinterest in the client and their situation and it’s just plain lazy. There are a multitude of topics you can discuss in between formal meetings. Emails of changes in Social Security, how compound returns affect wealth accumulation, and the dreaded yet truly important ‘What if…” call. Preparing for the passing of a significant other who shares the financial plan is a crucial exercise to have with every client. Make sure it’s a specific, thorough process that is repeatable and scalable. You will be one of the first to be contacted if something happens to them.
3. Acknowledge Life Event Milestones
Your CRM client contact record should be robust enough so you have birthdays, children’s graduations, anniversaries, religious holidays etc on the list for sending congratulations and best wishes cards. Send the real ones with your personal signature and a note, not an ecard. Using Ecards is expeditious but shows a lack of personal interest. Retail is detail and a personal handwritten note goes a long way in solidifying what is a very personal business relationship.
4. Feed Your Eagles
Administrative staff are the lifeblood of any advisory practice. Your assistants and junior associates will be charged with taking care of 90% of client requests. They will also be the first voice heard and the first face seen when a client calls or comes into the office. Perception is reality and if your team is happy, they will reflect that in every interaction they have with your clients. Take care of your staff and they will take care of your clients.
5. Know Your Limitations
Whether it is your time, family situation, health, or otherwise, everything touches everything. Don’t promise something to a client that you can’t deliver on. You will be perceived as unreliable. Time is always an advisor’s adversary. If you can save thirty minutes delegating something, do it. That gives you thirty extra minutes to talk to your clients, because to come full circle, if you aren’t talking to your clients, someone else is.