As a practice-management and business development coach, financial advisors give me a lot of credit for having "good ideas". Truth be told, any semblance of "creativity" on my part simply stems from my ability to conceal my sources. All kidding aside, financial advisors constantly share with me what works and what doesn't and I act as a conduit by sharing my observations along the way.
My point is this. There are a lot of so-called experts in this business speaking at conferences, conducting webinars (and distributing tips via email) talking about ways for you to get more referrals, make more money, run a better business and the like. And while there is some merit to all of that, chances are what you really want to know is "What are other advisors doing that's working today?"
And here is the best part, the things that are working really well out in the field are typically simple, easy to implement ideas that you'll actually enjoy doing. Let's face it, a lot of practice-management and business building strategies that you hear from coaches sound good enough in theory but they also sound like work.
Connecting With Your Clients on a Different Level.
On a recent online virtual conference I was conducting, I was talking about the importance of an advisor injecting some personality into his or her client communications strategy. It's one thing to think of your business as an actual business but I'd also like you to think of it as a community that your clients want to belong to. Building long-term client relationships isn't just about the returns you help them achieve, it's also about how being a client of yours makes them feel. And the better they feel about your community the more likely they will stay loyal and introduce a friend or family member to you.
A Simple, Easy-to-Implement and Effective Idea
A great idea that came out of that conference was this: have each of the advisors and support staff in your branch bring in a picture of their family and create a collage of the pictures in a large frame and display it in the reception area. I've known of other advisors who have done a variation of this by putting the family pictures as well as photos of team initiatives like fund raisers and other charitable events in a photo album and leaving it on the coffee table in the client waiting area. In every case, advisors who have done this talk about how favorably people respond. Prospective clients aspire to belong to the community, clients feel good about belonging and your staff love the vibe this concept creates in the office.
A Deeper Dive
Take the concept of creating a community feel to another level. I know a financial advisor who sponsored a young swimming sensation (from a financially challenged situation) so that he could travel to swim meets and compete at the highest possible level. A picture of the swimmer displayed in his office was always something that clients, prospective clients, fellow staff members and wholesalers spoke of.
Another advisor helped with a portion of sponsorship so that a high school class could go on a mission to a developing country to help build a small school. That picture of the students displayed in the advisors office is something that virtually everyone gravitates to. Another advisor did a client event where he rented a movie theater for a screening of a Disney Pixar film and the cost of admission for the kids was to bring a can of food for the local food bank. The picture of the kids standing beside the mini mountain of food outside the theater is a recurring topic of conversation in the office.
Giving Starts the Receiving Process
The Law of Reciprocity is powerful. And to quote Norman Schwarzkopf on the topic of leadership, "People always follow character first, strategy second." When you put a human touch to your business development efforts, and in the process express your gratitude to the community, you become more attractive and more compelling to everyone you come in contact with.
It Sounds So Corny!
I will say that there have been occasions where I've presented ideas like this at a seminar and some of the audience rolled their eyes to the point I felt like I was talking to slot machines. Remember, you aren't marketing to yourself. Furthermore, at the end of the day you are in the relationship management business. With the velocity of technology creeping into our lives accelerating, it's the human touch that really stands out and get's people's attention. Don't get faked out by all the fancy and esoteric business building ideas that sound good at a conference and then go to your head to die. Long-term relationships built on trust stem from your credentials as a financial advisor and the chemistry you build with your clients.
And from my years of experience I can tell you this; the feedback loop on initiatives like this can be faster and more positive than anything else you do.
Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson