5 Tips For Client Communication During Times Of Volatility

This article was first featured in Financial Advisor Magazine on May 24th, 2022. 

Frequent communication is one of the most important ways you can establish trust with your clients. In fact, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. survey on global wealth and asset management, clients’ satisfaction with their financial advisor is directly correlated with the frequency of the advisor’s communications.

Yet only 33% of clients in the study said their advisor connects with them at least once a month. Sixty percent of clients hear from their advisor every three months or less.

Couple this with data found in a Financial Advisor survey asking clients why they fired an advisor. A whopping 72% named poor communications as a problem, and it was the No. 1 reason cited by almost 20%.

Now consider other problems: the current market and economic volatility. The communication challenges are bound to increase.

That means it’s critical that you establish a strong client communication strategy, one that consistently delivers timely and relevant content. It should show your clients you’re there for them and that you respond to events that might affect their financial plans. It may sound like a daunting task, but here are a few tips that may make it easier:

1. Write And Repurpose

You can easily burn out if you’re constantly writing emails and blogs for your clients. One way to avoid that is to have someone else do it: You can work with one of the many firms that create client content, and that will customize it for your audience. Maybe you just need an outside firm to supplement what you’re already writing and sending out yourself.

But in fact, there’s nothing better than something you’ve written yourself. Let’s say you have time to write just one blog per month. Ideally, it would be some 2,000 words. If you have a blog that long, you can reuse it: You can take sections and repackage them in new ways.

Consider taking one or more sections and repurposing them for a timely client email, for example. You might need only some text from under one of the headers of your blog, something that works without additional context. Such information is perfect for an email because it’s short and sweet, and you can always link to the original blog to attract more readers. By separating your content this way, you can create multiple emails instead of one.

You can carve out content for social media the same way.

The result is an abundance of material. And since your more extensive blogs will often contain more research, you can rest assured that what you’re providing is valuable. All of this can be done without much additional work. You’ll save both time and effort.

2. Overthink Your Subject Line

According to HubSpot, 35% of people receiving an email open it because of the subject line. It’s the first thing they see. And it’s critical to the open rate among your clients.

Strong subject lines appeal to a client’s emotion and imply that they will get a benefit out of reading it.

For example, one of the emails we recently sent our clients used the following subject line:

“Inverted Yield Curve + Inflation = Stay the Course.”

If that line has you looking for more information, that’s part of the idea. It builds curiosity. The email references a current concern and offers a solution. Of course, there are many ways to write the subject line, but keeping emotion and the benefits to the client at the top of your list can help improve results.

Here are a few other ways to quickly create a compelling subject line:
• Ask questions. This engages your reader and implies that you have a solution. Try to direct your inquiry toward a problem the reader might be having.
• Reference a checklist. Reference a list like: “Top 5 retirement planning mistakes,” “5 tips to avoid estate taxes,” etc. Mentioning a list of items is a great way to entice them to open and read the email and sets the expectation for what the content will be about.
• Reference a how-to or a guide. Highlight something that the reader can keep handy to simplify a complex topic.
• Let them know there’s alternative media inside. Most readers are used to receiving text-based emails. But you can also let them know that you have different kinds of content inside—by adding a tag in brackets at the beginning of the subject line. For example, include “[Video]” at the start of the subject line for emails containing video content.
• Use emojis. This can be a great way to catch the reader’s eye if they have a full inbox, but be sure to use these graphics conservatively and appropriately.

3. Offer Multiple Communication Channels

Investment research firm YCharts asked respondents in a recent survey, “Would more frequent communication give you more confidence in your advisor?” Seventy-seven percent of clients said “Yes,” and 87% said email was their preferred method of communication.

I’ve worked with advisors who assume that client communication means actually calling all their clients. Not at all! The key is to use email primarily and social media second to share timely, relevant, and exciting content.

But your emails (and even your social media) should include calls to action—welcoming clients or prospects to contact you directly if they have any questions or want to discuss their situations.

Emotions can be high in times of volatile markets. Clients will feel better if they can use multiple channels and alternative communication methods to talk to you.

4. Take Advantage of Holidays and ‘Themes’ for Each Month

Many advisors feel that all their communications need to be about financial matters. I’d like to challenge that.

It might feel uncomfortable for you to hear, but your clients and prospects are more interested in you personally than they are in bonds and their yield curve. They are hiring you because they trust and like you. When they chose you, they were depending to a high degree on their own emotional intelligence, and the closer they feel to you personally, the more loyal they’ll be and more likely to refer you to others.

Holidays give you an excellent opportunity to show your personality by sending heartfelt, authentic messages—not a Hallmark card, but something sincere that you feel about the holiday. It could be a memory from your childhood, statements that show your “softer side.” If it’s Memorial Day, for example, it could be something that shows your feelings about those who have served our country.

Monthly “theme” letters also offer you opportunities to show your personality and passions in ways that clients will appreciate. They will more likely open these letters and read them more thoroughly than they would your financial emails.

Take Women’s History Month. This can give you a chance to talk about women you’ve admired in history and honor those who have made a difference in your life. It’s shocking how many things are “observed” each month. Just Google “national observances” for any month—June, July, August, etc.—and you will see 20 or more things “celebrated.” Surely, one or two of these will inspire ideas for either social posts or an email noting why commenting on these themes matters to you.

5. Limit Industry Jargon

Clients want to feel heard and want their issues taken care of as fast as possible. Resolving client concerns can’t be done with poor communication, and though we may be tempted to use industry terms, it’s important to consider our readers.

Remember, clients likely do not have the same professional experience you do. That’s why they hired you! When you communicate with them, make sure the information you’re providing makes sense for someone outside of the financial services industry and feels authentic to your business.

Not A Bother

Get rid of the feeling that you are bothering your clients by reaching out to them more frequently. All the data disputes this notion. Now is the perfect time to start upping your communication strategy. Whether you partner with an industry marketing firm for help or have the bandwidth to do it yourself, investing in your communication strategy is bound to yield a positive ROI, especially during what we expect to be a challenging year for the markets and economy.

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