As we settle into 2022, there’s a discernable difference compared with last year at this time. Simply put, things feel more like some form of normal. Yes, the pandemic continues to throw us curveballs like the Omicron variant. But the omnipresent sense of foreboding we’ve all experienced over the past two years is slowly being replaced by a sense of optimism. And with it, for advisors, comes an opportunity to renew your focus on nurturing relationships and creating lifelong clients.
What steps can you take to build, rebuild, and strengthen your relationships to help you keep clients for life? Consider concentrating on these five critical areas:
1) Establish Relationships with Spouses
Developing strong connections with both spouses in a relationship is something we discuss frequently with advisors. According to a recent Fidelity Investments research paper, Advisors and the Decade of Generational Wealth, only 46 percent of advisors are successful in supporting a woman client after the death of their spouse. This means that, more often than not, advisors are losing relationships rather than creating lifelong clients.
For fee-based businesses, client retention is likely a top priority—and having half of your relationships possibly at risk is untenable. Consider this: A widow grieving for her husband may be facing difficult life changes, family issues, and financial challenges. Ideally, she should be able to turn to an advisor she already knows and is comfortable with for support and guidance. If she’s out looking for someone new, though, it may mean she hasn’t felt like part of that relationship. Make this the year that changes.
2) Solidify Ties with Next-Gen Clients
Our industry faces a generational wealth transfer that will transform the financial profile of many Generation X, Y, and Z investors. The same Fidelity study reveals that advisors have worked with adult children in only 38 percent of their client relationships, so there’s huge room for improvement there—and untapped opportunities for creating lifelong clients. As you meet with clients in 2022, think about raising how planning strategies can help meet a family’s complex needs, and make sure families know you can support them on challenging topics.
You can also ask to be introduced to your clients’ adult children. The widespread use of videoconferencing services like Zoom makes it much easier to meet and incorporate next-gen children into discussions, no matter where they live. In addition to inheriting one day, these prospects could have great careers and contacts that make them ideal clients in their own right.
3) Develop Bonds with Prospects
Many advisors gained virtual clients—people they’ve never met face-to-face—during the pandemic. There’s no reason this trend can’t continue. Look at your practice through a virtual lens to pinpoint what you need to do to capture the attention of ideal clients you haven’t met. Digital onboarding will be critical, as will video, which can help convey what it’s like to work with you. Be sure to bring your team into the process to brainstorm ideas for reaching your target audience.
4) Reassess Clients’ Goals
It’s unlikely you’ve gone through the past few years without making some changes in your life. The same is likely true for your clients. One advisor told me she thought her clients had yet to fully process the impact of Covid-19 on their families and lives; everyone was focused on simply getting through. What will happen when reflection sets in? Priorities may have changed, and clients may be reassessing. They may have decided they want to retire early, quit or change jobs, relocate to be closer to children, or ramp up charitable giving efforts. Don’t assume that the people you’ve worked with for years are the same people now. Build open-ended questions into your meetings, and gently suggest revisiting key goals and funding.
5) Make Practice Enhancements
The way you run your business creates the framework for nurturing lasting relationships—helping you deliver the kind of experience you strive for, reinforce your value, and position you to keep clients for life. Think about best practices you can adopt—everything from scale and efficiency to marketing. Are there opportunities to outsource functions so you can spend more time with clients? Do you have a business transition plan in place? And do your clients know about it, so they can feel confident about the future of your firm?
Even small changes can make a difference, such as adopting a calendar function that makes it more convenient for clients and prospects to book appointments themselves. You might even continue with a virtual practice, institute a hybrid model, outsource portfolios, or leverage webinars to scale time and find prospects.
Building on the Foundation
Going through the experience of the pandemic together may have helped strengthen the foundations you’ve established with clients. As the environment continues to normalize, be sure to take advantage of opportunities to build on that momentum and solidify your relationships. Keep in mind that creating lifelong clients is a career-long process. By integrating some of these strategies, you can go a long way toward deepening your connections and strengthening the groundwork for long-term success.
This material is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific advice.