9 Strategies Financial Advisors Can Use to Boost Client Retention
Financial advisors learned a lot of lessons in 2020.
The unexpected, sweeping impact of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted many advisory firms to work remotely, in order to comply with statewide lockdown requirements. These guidelines challenged advisors to maintain a solid client experience and service without the benefit of meeting face-to-face.
Client retention isn’t just important during unexpected emergencies, like a pandemic; it’s vital all-year-round. Many advisors and thought leaders in the space place a lot of focus on prospecting and business development, but it’s rarely stated how critical it is for advisors to retain those clients once they’ve signed on.
What are you doing to ensure an exemplary client experience? And if you lost clients in 2020, what retention strategies should you employ to help you build lasting, fruitful relationships?
We review the nine retention tactics you should implement below.
1. Share success stories during the prospecting phase.
The roots of strong client retention grow from the prospecting phase. Before you’ve signed on a prospect, you should be sharing success stories (within compliance guidelines, of course) that allow them to see themselves in your services.
Focus on sharing success stories that give an insider’s look into your firm’s communication and collaboration style, team approach, investment philosophy, financial planning software, or service approach, among other areas. This helps set appropriate expectations from the outset and also ensures that you’re securing the right prospects for your firm who fit your ideal client profile — which will make for stronger retention over the long term.
2. Continue to set expectations.
This step is essential to solid client retention. All of your clients should have a strong understanding of the projected results you expect to deliver, how you will achieve those results, and the time frame over which you will reach them. Formalize these expectations, projected results, and time frame in writing and continue to provide status updates on a regular basis (you should also make sure to communicate when and how your clients can expect to receive updates).
Being transparent from the very beginning of your relationship will ensure your clients feel fulfilled and are fully aware of your process, your communication style, and the goals and milestones you expect to reach.
3. Incorporate metrics in your regular status updates.
Make sure you have a good tracking and reporting process or platform (or both) for sharing key metrics about progress with clients. Provide recaps of any actions you took on their behalf (whether it be monthly, quarterly, or annually) and the results of those actions. Document every directive from your clients in writing and preferably in your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Some advisors also utilize project management platforms (think Wrike or Asana) to keep track of projects internally, which makes the external reporting process much smoother and more streamlined.
4. Give clients a glimpse into the future of your relationship.
Strong client retention isn’t solely attained through what you do in the here and now; it’s also important to explain what clients will receive from you in the future. Once you’ve helped your clients achieve some of their short-term life goals — such as starting a college savings plan or rebuilding their investment portfolio — they may also inquire where your relationship is going, or what you can help them accomplish in the future, and you need to be prepared with answers.
It’s imperative to be consistently educating your clients on the services you provide at every stage of their life cycle, from retirement to selling a business. Create a roadmap for your clients’ entire financial picture and review it with them on an ongoing basis to illustrate how far they’ve come and how far they have left to go. Revise and update the roadmap on a periodic basis to reflect your clients’ life changes, financial and otherwise. Establish next steps as milestones are crossed off the list. The point is, don’t underestimate the importance of proving the value of your advice and service over time.
5. Solicit feedback and take action on it.
When clients leave your firm, do you ask why? Do you have an outlet for current clients to provide regular feedback about your performance? Asking for feedback — both positive and negative — is an essential tool for maintaining strong client retention and continuous improvement.
Address any errors or mistakes that slip through the cracks in a timely fashion, providing information about how you will fix them and how you will prevent them from happening in the future. In addition to asking for feedback, you should also be reminding your clients about their wins on a regular basis and using them as a basis for future strategies.
And don’t forget, your firm’s leadership, culture, and business ethics and practices all contribute to retention. Make sure you’re leading by example.
6. Create a high-touch, consistent client experience.
When there is a solid, consistent process in place, your clients understand expectations and know they can rely on your team to deliver tangible results. Make sure that your new client onboarding process — everything from your discovery meeting to the moment they sign on the dotted line — is airtight. Create templates for meeting agendas; implement consistent workflows for new projects, materials, or communications that need to be delivered; and share all of this information with your clients. If possible, try and make your onboarding process digital for optimal efficiency and convenience.
7. Make sure your communications are uniform and resonate with your clients.
Take a moment and put yourself in your clients’ shoes: What do the first 30 days look like in their experience with your firm? What do the communications look and sound like? Who are your clients interacting with? What does the user experience look like when they sign into your client portal? How often does your client hear from their advisor?
All of these touchpoints are essential, make-or-break aspects of your clients’ experience with your firm. Audit all of your communications — from your monthly newsletter to quarterly reports — and make sure they are relevant, visually appealing, customized, and representative of the brand you want to portray publicly. Think about educational or technology training needs you should address with your clients. Every single touchpoint should be an opportunity to enrich your clients’ experience and enhance your credibility in their eyes.
8. Introduce your clients to your entire advisory team.
If your clients are only meeting with your most senior advisor, then you may want to re-evaluate your approach. By presenting yourself as a robust advisory team, with various levels and areas of expertise, you are showing your clients that your relationship is solid.
For instance, if your most senior advisor is preparing for retirement or needs to take a leave of absence, then your client knows that there is a full team there to assist, a team who knows and understands their financial life and goals. Bonus points if your advisory team is comprised of professionals with a wide variety of credentials (i.e., a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® for clients facing major transitions, or a Chartered Retirement Plans SpecialistSM for business owners who want to offer a plan to employees).
9. Give your clients the tools they need to succeed.
Don’t expect your clients to know what they don’t know. Every time you launch a new product or service, make sure your current clients are at the top of your priority list when it comes to communicating the news. Proactively educate them about the financial topics that are most applicable to their lives, whether it be through blog posts, videos, or podcasts. Consider providing them with the tech tools they need to easily and conveniently manage their financial lives, such as an app that allows them to access their client portal through their smartphone or tablet. Place as much focus on your clients’ experience as you do on your prospects’ experience.
Do you need help developing a strategy to boost client retention in 2021? Contact Beyond AUM for more information.