Posted January 28, 2020 by Gabriel Lewit, Chief Executive Officer
As a financial advisor, client retention is incredibly important. Your clients are your lifeblood. Certainly, we all know that and agree with that. However, many advisors will inadvertently leave client retention up to chance.
What do I mean by that?
The most successful businesses are all built upon a framework of processes and systems. Step-by-step approaches that deliver duplicatable results when followed diligently. Client retention, whether you realize it or not, can be setup as a systematic process that, when followed, delivers anticipated results.
In our example, those anticipated results are an extremely high client retention ratio. Clients who are absolutely locked in and not going anywhere. Year, over year, over year.
So, what’s your client-retention system that you’re implementing? Can you map it out? And, if you don’t have a system you’re implementing, then you’re leaving things to chance. How do you suppose that might work out?
As a financial advisor, you’re in a highly competitive industry. You’ve got billion-dollar firms cutting their costs to next to zero and you’ve got an advisor on nearly every street corner. You really need to step your game up if you want to both attract new clients but also retain them for good. With that thought in mind, let’s look at 3 top ways to improve your client retention in 2020 and beyond. By following these three easy steps, you’re well on your way to implementing a client retention system you can really count on.
#1 – Create a Yearly Client Service Calendar
The first step we recommend is creating a yearly client service calendar. There is a lot of hidden power in creating a yearly calendar. By putting actionable ideas to a calendar, you’re assigning a date to it. In other words, you can’t just add it to the calendar without a date. The date is required!
The hidden power here is that you’re taking a conceptual idea, i.e. “Host a market review workshop for my clients,” and you’re making it more concrete by assigning it to a potential day and time.
In fact, if you go ahead and map out your entire year this way in advance—which we strongly encourage—you will have your entire year mapped out in advance and ready to execute. There are a variety of items that you may want to consider adding into your client service calendar.
While there are no one size fits all solution, here are some of our recommendations.
- January/February – New Year Market Review & Outlook
- February/March – Annual Updates to Client Retirement/Investment Plans
- May/June – Tax Planning Reviews & Strategy Sessions
- June/July – Mid Year Market Review & Outlook
- August/September – Mid-Year Updates to Client Retirement/Investment Plans
- October/November – Year End Tax-Planning, Roth Conversion Reviews
You’ll notice a lot of events here. We really recommend hosting client educational workshops and client events. They are part client-service, part client-appreciation and part-prospecting. They are very low cost and quite effective in several ways.
If you don’t want to host events, then some additional options for you may include:
- Host an educational webinar
- Host a quarterly conference call
- Send clients a personal letter or update
Some of the advantages of these ideas is that your clients will have no idea how many other clients you may have. If you’re worried about low attendance, or you’re new and only have a small number of clients, these strategies may work best for you.
Lastly, don’t forget some of the most fundamental basics:
- Occasional check in call
- Occasional check in email
No matter what options you choose to include in your year long client service calendar, be sure to make it real by adding a date to it. Then just follow the game-plan that you’ve mapped out for the year.
#2 – Deliver Amazing Client Service
Our second step is providing amazing client service. While it may be something that we all intend to do, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. However, your clients want to feel like they are top priority to you. They want to feel important.
Nothing says that they are important like providing great service. Great service leads to happy clients. Happy clients are far less likely to leave. It’s really that simple.
So, what can help to ensure you deliver great client service?
- Return calls promptly
- Return emails promptly
- Do what you say you’re going to do
- Under-promise and over-deliver
- Provide tangible ongoing value
- Be a great communicator
- Show clients that you care
- Personally address unhappy/frustrated clients
(Don’t delegate to a team member)
We could likely spend hours talking about these items, but suffice it to say that these are at the heart of delivering great client service. The key is to be self-aware enough to analyze your own practice and ask, “Am I really doing the best job at these items as I can be?” or “Are there areas here that I can improve upon?” I’d recommend identifying the top few areas that you think you can improve in 2020, create a quick action-plan on how you’ll accomplish it, and then work to implement it into your practice.
#3 – Send Mail To Your Clients Monthly
Our third key step is sending mail to your clients monthly. Physical mail. Delivered by the great United States Postal Service!
Here’s why. People read it. It stands out. It carries physical weight. It carries more meaning. In an age where people are bombarded by emails and rarely read them all, direct mail stands above the crowd. So what should you send? How often should you mail? Let’s take a look at a few quick recommendations below.
So what should you send? How often should you mail? Let’s take a look at a few quick recommendations below.
Postcards are great because they are the most cost-effective way to send mail to all of your clients. If you use the postcards that we provide at Vision Financial Marketing, every card is extremely high quality and large enough to both stand out and carry a meaningful message.
Additionally, they are also designed to survive the tough trip through the mail so they arrive beautiful and scuff-free!
We recommend sending a postcard every month to your clients.
Great ideas for postcards include:
- Happy spring, fall, etc… thoughtful messages
- Happy holidays
- Thinking of you cards
- Quick financial tips
- Event invitations or reminders
- Referral program reminders
- And more!
- Custom Company Newsletter
Creating a custom newsletter can really set your firm apart. Standard, generic newsletters that you purchase from some random “marketing company” aren’t going to cut it. Most clients will just toss those in the trash. Instead, focus on designing a newsletter that is branded to you, features a personally written article and pictures of you, your company and your team. That way, when your clients read it, they really feel like they are building a relationship with you and your company!
We recommend creating and sending this newsletter quarterly.
Letters are great because you have the room to craft more of a compelling story, message or point than you do with a postcard. Moreover, the recipient of the letter feels that you are talking directly to them due to its personalized nature (i.e. “Dear John”). There is no set best topic to include in your letters, but we recommend sending articles, resources or financial tips that mirror what your practice is emphasizing.
For example, if you focus on retirement planning, then keep your articles focused on providing valuable insights into improving your clients’ retirement plans. Remind them of things that you do that provide value that they potentially have forgotten about. The more you repeat your core messaging over and over, the more that clients will attribute their successful plans to your firm’s guidance.
We recommend sending letters at least quarterly, if not more frequently, depending on budget.
While this may seem like a lot, ultimately, your client will be receiving 1 to 2 pieces of mail from you each month, which is just the right amount. If you’re only sending things to your clients a few times per year, you’re just not doing enough to build, strengthen and maintain the relationship.
The Bottom Line
Client retention is so important, but it doesn’t have to be hard. While it may seem like a lot of “work” to get this system up and running—depending on what you’ve currently got in place in your practice—this is work that will result in retaining millions in assets and retaining tens of thousands in revenue.
When you think of it from that perspective, hopefully you’ll feel it’s well worth your time! If there’s anything we can do to help, just let us know. Or if you’d like to check out our postcard library, just sign up for your free account today and go explore
Until next time,