In times of disruption like we are experiencing today, it is important for Advisors to be thoughtful and intentional in how they engage clients. At Greene Consulting, our mission is to “Empower Advisors to make a positive impact on the clients they serve.” In service to that mission, we have compiled the “Nine Strategies for Leading in this Time of Disruption.”
Back to the Basics – Be Proactive
Now more than ever, it is time to be proactive in your communication with EVERY client. The longer the communication void continues, the greater the risk in the relationship. With the news changing daily and the market experiencing unprecedented volatility, for many clients your initial call was helpful – but do not rest. Consider new strategies for leveraging technology platforms to provide timely updates and perspectives at scale (Zoom, Texts, Teleconferences).
Be Empathetic and Listen
Demonstrate true empathy. Some of your business owner clients are fighting to keep their businesses afloat. For others, fear and anxiety rule as uncertainty has become the norm. And, the longer the uncertainty remains, the more this anxiety will grow. Make sure you spend time understanding your clients’ mindset as much as you are talking about the markets. Most importantly, take time to just listen.
Engage with “Purity of Intent”
A central theme to our approach to helping advisors differentiate and grow is the concept of acting with “Purity of Intent”. Ask yourself this simple question, “Am I acting with self-interest or are my actions driven with full Purity of Intent (How would I want my grandparents to be treated right now?)?” Your clients are highly intuitive and will quickly discern your intentions. This is the time to demonstrate a truly client-centric mindset.
Focus on Frequency over Forum
Social Distancing will require adoption of new communication strategies / platforms. Three weeks ago, many had never heard of Zoom; now it (or something like it) has become the mainstay of remaining connected to our firms and colleagues. The same is equally true with clients. The simple fact is that many clients will value more frequent and timely communication with less focus on the forum (Face-to-Face Meetings vs. Non-Traditional forums). With things changing rapidly every day, consider a weekly update, delivering your firm’s Point-of-View. Remember, just because a client is comfortable today doesn’t necessarily equate to them being comfortable next week.
The Imperative of Intentionality
Talking with Executive Leaders and top Advisors across the country since the inception of this disruption, our firm has heard a number of great strategies for WHAT advisors are doing to stay engaged. Equally as important is being highly intentional about what to communicate. According an annual survey conducted by Bank of America Private Bank, 51% of HNW clients invest to reach Life Goals (Planning-Focused Clients), while 49% invest to meet a Return Target (Performance-Focused Clients). Going out with just one message will assuredly result in half of your clients feeling you are not connected with them. Make sure you have a clear Point-of-View about how you will engage both of these client profiles.
Employ Behavioral Coaching to Minimize Common Decision Errors
Volatile markets and uncertainty create stress. When humans feel stress, our brains are wired to employ “Fight or Flight” decision-making. While highly useful for survival if you were attacked by a literal bear, this mindset results in sub-par decision-making when it comes to a market bear. Take time to develop a pragmatic understanding of Behavioral Finance and the common Decision Errors investors make in these environments. Your ability to engage in Behavioral Coaching will certainly bring value and serve to differentiate you from Advisors with a Traditional Approach.
Embrace the Digital Channel
One common refrain we at Greene Consulting have heard over the last few weeks has been the imperative of embracing new technologies. This goes beyond just communication platforms like Zoom or Webex. Overwhelmingly, clients are voicing a desire to augment the Human Channel with the Digital Channel (a Hybrid Relationship blending Human and Digital) to help them more effectively manage their wealth. In fact, a recent study found that over 73% of Gen Xers would choose a Digital-only relationship over an Advisor-only relationship if forced to make a choice. Advisors who apply modern thinking about how they are leveraging tools like eMoney and MoneyGuidePro to deliver a Digital Experience will differentiate and drive growth in this volatile market environment.
Capitalize on the Power of “Rapid Planning”
In a recent call with a highly respected wealth management executive, he stated that “I can tell by the nature of the client conversations we are having which advisors understand their clients’ Financial Priorities versus those that do not. The conversations with clients where we focus on understanding Priorities are much easier than those where we do not.” However, traditional Planning is time consuming, not scalable and probably not what clients are looking for in these times of uncertainty. Advisors should re-think the traditional Financial Planning model and employ what we call “Rapid Planning” – a process that effectively leverages your Planning software to deliver tangible value in 30-45 minutes rather than 3-4 meetings. (NOTE: If you would like to learn more about how to change the Planning Paradigm and capitalize on this disruption at scale, send me an e-mail and we can forward information to you on our Delivering a Scalable Digital Experience Program that can be fully delivered remotely via the Greene Consulting Online Learning Platform.)
Seek to Aggregate
Clients need a full view of their complete financial picture now more than ever. Yet, very few have a complete view and are simply too distracted by current events to do so. Advisors should seize this opportunity to re-educate clients on what is important, engaging them with a sound and compelling case for why they need the full picture. A simple framework for this conversation is focusing on three key questions with clients:
- Where are you today?
- Are you on track?
- What changes should you be considering?
This conversation framework creates the logical case for Aggregation – simply having one place where clients can access a full view of their financial situation. And consider this statement, “Clients will only Aggregate data ONCE, so its Aggregate or be Aggregated.” (Note: If you would like to participate in a complimentary 45-minute Webinar entitled “Strategies for Deepening Relationships Though this Crisis” for your team/organization, please let us know. It has been a positive catalyst for a number of firms in the past few weeks.)
Each of us at Greene Consulting hope these Nine Strategies reinforce the value of what you are doing today and give you new ideas you can employ to make a positive impact on the clients you serve. To learn more about how we can help, contact Dan Greene at 404-324-4600 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.