mistake-method-AEApril2012

Many people call their doctors the moment they get sick. You may have clients who are just as mindful of their finances, but others habitually ignore their fiscal health.

There are several reasons clients don’t reach out—they’re happy to be uninvolved, never get around to it, or are wilfully ignorant (which often happens when times are tough).

“We have clients who admit they haven’t opened their statements,” says Phil Tippetts-Aylmer, CFP, a financial advisor at Nicola Wealth Management in Vancouver.

It’s never wise to overlook investments. If clients won’t stay on top of their portfolios’ performance records, you have to learn who needs regular nudging and follow up accordingly.

  1. Anticipate the unasked question

    Knowing your clients’ investment goals and risk tolerance is just the beginning. Next, use that information when assessing investment performance. Someone who’s retired will find a 5% loss more troubling than a 35-year-old with a high risk tolerance.

    So before sending out statements, Tippetts-Aylmer reviews a few of the returns to see if they match clients’ expectations. If they don’t, he’ll contact them a day or two before the mail arrives. “[Even if] they’re not the type of people who will get in touch, [they] will find it valuable if I do,” he adds.

  2. Make it easy

    Passive clients need to see you more often, not less, says Neil Gregory, CFA, director of wealth management and a portfolio manager with Richardson GMP in Calgary.

    Frequent contact makes it easier for clients to ask nagging questions. Formalize those opportunities by holding client-education seminars (see “The cost of a sensational seminar,”) and appreciation events, and personally inviting those who could become more involved with their investments.

    Tippetts-Aylmer uses a contact system to track how often he’s in touch with clients. It also alerts him if he gets close to 90 days without talking to a given client. He says recurrent chats are more likely to draw out queries or concerns.

    And use multiple methods of communication. Gregory and his colleagues post videos of their market views and e-mail clients the links.

    Sometimes they call immediately, but more often the videos serve as a basis for future conversations about the effect of the markets on their portfolios.

    “It gives them a lens through which they can frame their own thoughts on the markets, after which they’re more comfortable engaging us in a discussion,” says Gregory.

    Keep track of major triggers

    Life events—marriage; having kids; selling or purchasing a property or business; a child entering university; milestone birthdays—should spur clients to take fresh looks at their financial pictures. They won’t always call you when these events occur. You can, if you have the right information at hand. Don’tjust ask about a mortgage, for instance; also ask about the rate and maturity date. Learn about their children’s ambitions.

    Then, use CRM programs to track each milestone, and create corresponding reminders in your calendar. That way, you can reach out when major life events are on the horizon.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge