As in any relationship, a close relationship with clients relies on good communication. With increasing competition and globalisation within financial services, this is becoming more important than ever.
These days, there are thousands of ways in which to communicate – the internet, email, advertising, letters, the telephone, text messages, newspapers, magazines, newsletters and reviews. Where once a client may have spoken only to their adviser about financial matters, it is now impossible to avoid the marketing of the large banks and institutions – as well as the eager start ups, cold-calling potential clients from call centres across the world.
It is therefore vital to keep your name – and your reputation – at the front of clients’ minds. Indeed, maintaining a consistent profile and trustworthy image can be amongst the most important factors in your long term success.
Of course, your behaviour in face-to-face meetings is the primary step in building a relationship and positive reputation with clients. Financial advice is not a tangible product in itself - it is your knowledge, experience, confidence and qualifications which clients buy. So, to create the best possible impression, you dress well, smile, behave courteously and speak with authority. From that very first second you arrive, you are already building a picture. What you need to remember is, whilst first impressions are very important, your client’s picture of you does not stop developing when you close their door.
In reality, a client’s picture of you never stops developing – it continually evolves, changing every time they encounter your name or your business – and also, crucially, when they encounter competitors. They will check out your website – possibly before you even meet. They will double check your advice against information from the internet or from direct mailings and magazines. They might mention you in conversation and get feedback from friends who know you – or who know another adviser in which case, comparisons will start.
Maintaining that image
It is therefore essential that you look after your reputation – not only when you are in that face-to-face situation but between those meetings when other influences are at work.
The most important stuff can also be the simplest. Staying in touch costs little more than the stamp and that one envelope can carry many messages – as your competitors already know. However, the content and manner of conveying that message is also important. A new mortgage client will likely have little time for an update on developments in Asian markets. It could even make them feel bad if they are concerned by rising interest rates and a lack of current savings.
In other words, communication does not mean mailing product offers every week to the world and his wife to see what the response is. It also does not mean we believe a letter can replace your face-to-face meetings. However, what a letter can do is remind clients what your expertise is worth. It can educate and inform. For example: ‘Don’t worry about the interest rate rise’ or ‘Let me outline the the Pension Bill’. Or perhaps ‘did you realise you haven’t used up your ISA allowance.’ In other words, used well, communications remind clients who you are and reassure them you have their best interests at heart.
Therefore, once you have made the decision to communicate, make sure you give it the same amount of thought as you give a face-to-face meeting. Every letter that you write, every telephone call you make, every email you send is an opportunity – and should be relevant to the audience you are targetting.
Audit your messages
Making the most of communications does not need to take big budgets or large chunks of your time. Start with the basics – who are your clients and what do they want to know? How many clients do you have? How often do you see them? What have they have invested in and what were their ambitions for the future?
Then start speaking to them. Send them a newsletter. Give them a call. Invite them to a drinks evening. Update them on developments relevant to their situation. Tell them about the next issue on their list. Engage with them in whichever way is most appropriate for them. And don’t forget the internet. Get a website –and make sure it speaks to clients in their own language, not yours.
Getting help – for FREE
Marketing-hub.co.uk offers FREE marketing content and advice to help you deliver professional communications to clients without impacting your time or budgets.
Our content includes sample letters, articles, presentation slides, tips and guidance, and is complemented by our innovative newsletter builder which creates fully bespoke, ready-to-print newsletters for clients in just a few minutes.
Marketing-hub.co.uk is THE communications tool for financial advisers.
For more information, visit http://www.marketing-hub.co.uk.
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