Clients Construe Poor Communication as Utter Indifference

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Traditionally, the largest adviser practices seem to be the ones generating higher profits, having larger client portfolios and enjoying greater revenues than their smaller peers. However, a closer look reveals that there is a series of key factors that differentiates these top guns from average practices. One of the most important being their commitment to maintain proactive and ongoing communication with clients, especially during challenging times.

Because of my Wall Street background and current involvement with financial advisers, throughout the financial crisis, friends, relatives and acquaintances have often vented their concerns with me about the adverse impact of the economic crisis on their portfolios. Frequently, the greater common denominator of these complaints was sheer disappointment with the poor communication from their financial advisers. A significant number of them were ready and willing to dismiss their current advisers and entrust their portfolios with a professional who could maintain open communication to provide guidance and support—especially in the event of a new crisis.

While communication is always important, it becomes crucial during any crisis. When clients do not hear from their advisers, they inevitably assume the worst and perceive it as indifference. It is just human nature! During the past market meltdown, successful advisers had a game plan in place for constantly communicating with clients. They analyzed and attained an intimate understanding of their clients’ fears and expectations and engaged in actively reviewing their original goals. Those advisers who proactively provided reassurance and guidance demonstrated that they had at heart their clients’ best interests.

Here are some basic tactics your can implement to establish more proactive communications that will pay you big dividends in the long run.

Do not procrastinate: Regardless of the overall market conditions, take the lead and be the first to contact your clients. A call, an email or a handwritten note to invite them to meet and discuss what’s on their minds is one of the most reassuring gestures you can make. This action will inevitably inspire confidence in you and help you be perceived not just as a consultant but a compassionate and caring one.

Be like a doctor: Be realistic and candid like a physician who discusses a patient’s ailment. Do not try to sweeten the bitter pill. In addressing your clients’ pains, share with them your knowledge and use data to support your specific recommendations. This will not only raise their comfort level but inevitably build your credibility.

Put yourself in their shoes: Look at the situation from a different viewpoint. If you were a client, what would you want to hear and learn from your adviser that would help you cope with the situation at hand? In your communication pieces or in person meetings, discuss the overall market situation, and focus on the client’s specific fears and needs. Furthermore, seek to provide insights and information that they have not thought about and that they will find valuable and actionable.

As always, comments and questions are welcome.

Claudio Pannunzio
President
i-Impact Group Inc.
Greenwich, Conn.

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