In challenging times, it pays to dial up your communications

‘Challenging’, ‘volatile’ and ‘uncertain’ are appearing more frequently in the mainstream media and are therefore increasingly read/listened to by clients. From the financial advice perspective, while broad economic outlooks may be of interest to some clients, we know that most clients are now looking to/expecting their adviser to guide their personal finances through these ‘challenging’ times. Not an unreal expectation – after all, isn’t this what the client is paying their adviser to do?

Against this backdrop, we continue to be both surprised and dismayed that there are too few Australian advisers making any real attempt to find out what their clients are thinking and feeling. Our recent Future Ready IX Report* shows the number of practices seeking feedback from their clients has actually dropped from 32% in 2019, to a disappointing 26% last year.

For those who have sought feedback from their clients, a number of constant messages have emerged – not earth shattering in their own right, but they are extremely important and valued by clients. The good news is these messages aren’t difficult to act upon.

Two communication constants:

  1. Frequent, meaningful, personalised communication is a major driver of the adviser-client relationship. Frequency without the reinforcement of relevance and personalisation won’t produce the level of connectedness most clients are striving for. Consider:
  • Only 27% of practices report 10+ touches per year with their ‘best’ or top clients. This has dropped from two years previous and surely needs to be revisited in light of today’s market?
  • It will be worth the effort, practices that have 10+ contacts with their clients per year are achieving a higher level of profitability (+43%).*
  • Personalised is a big deal. ‘Dear valued client’ simply doesn’t work and yet we still see it from time to time in communications. Surely, if clients were really valued, you’d know their name!
  • Personalised communication shouldn’t only be about financial advice. A personal note or phone call on something important to your client can make them feel special. A CRM with relevant, personal data can make this much easier and more efficient to implement. Does your CRM contain relationship building/enhancing data, which is being maintained, updated and leveraged on a regular basis?
  1. Communication without jargon. ‘Communication’ has been either the lowest or second lowest rated out of 9 KPIs in our CATScan** client survey, ever since we launched the survey 20 years ago.
  • Unfortunately, financial services is a complex area and its language (dotted with acronyms, jargon and technical) isn’t easily grasped by every client. Every communication should be written with this in mind. Use examples and case studies to explain your message, avoid acronyms at all costs and give regular encouragement to clients to reach out if they don’t understand.
  • Of course, there’s more than one way to communicate, while it may be easier and more efficient to send an email, sometimes a video, phone call or webinar will be more appreciated by your clients. Do you know what your clients prefer?

For your consideration.

*Future Ready IX Report – Insights into the Australian Advisory Profession, by Business Health Pty Ltd, Jan 2022, sponsored by Midwinter Financial Services.

**CATScan client survey by Business Health Pty Ltd. For more information www.businesshealth.com.au or service@businesshealth.com.au.