Do Your Client Communications Stand Out?

October 24, 2019

“Just say no” to a weekly market review

While presenting at a conference earlier this week, I was asked my opinion on sending out weekly market reviews to clients.  I know I ruffled a few feathers when I answered that I would never send out a weekly market update newsletter (or, almost never). To me, those updates are impersonal, unproductive and usually delivered days after any useful relevance could be found in them. How’s that for being blunt?  

All communications to your clients reinforce your brand and identity, but communications can also be a form of advice.  As I’ve written before, we are continuing to move from an advisor-driven business to a consumer-centric business.  In this new world, clients are looking for personalized, timely and customized advice -- so every communication you send needs to stand out. 

What is your high net worth (HNW) strategy?

In last year’s Your HNW Client Strategy whitepaper, Allie Carey and I wrote, “If you are not sending personalized, tailored communications, why would a client think you are delivering personalized advice?”  We noted that almost 70% of advisors said they try to distinguish themselves by being generalists; 47% of advisors said they don’t tailor communication frequency by segment.*  We suggested that:

Advisors have a huge opportunity to create stronger relationships with clients by targeting each message to what clients want to hear – not what the advisor wants to send.

Despite the statistics, I can hear some of you asking, “What’s the harm in sending out a market update email? It’s a great way to stay top of mind and after all, most of us do manage money for our clients no matter how we have segmented them.” Maybe, but have you considered:

  • If you are broker dealer-affiliated or use a 3rd party service, after you compile the data and compliance looks at the numbers, you are probably sending out the market data on Monday or Tuesday after the previous Friday’s market close. If consumers really want to know what the market did, they will look it up well before you send your version.
  • You can call yourself a planner, a wealth advisor or a financial consultant – whatever -- but sending a weekly reminder on the markets tells clients that market performance is most important, not planning.
  • Clients know that you focus on the markets; most of you charge a 100 basis points (1%) assets under management fee.  Do you really want to send them a weekly reminder of your compensation metric?
  • Weekly market updates invite short-term questions around long-term goals.  Constantly bringing clients’ attention to the S&P 500 or other index suggests you want them to do something in reaction, rather than staying invested for the long term (if appropriate). 

Automate communications

Say no to weekly market updatesIn our HNW paper, Allie and I suggested that by creating personas and using workflows in their CRMs, advisors could mechanize a key feature of advice – micro moments.  Sending communications by segment instead of to general or mass distribution lists can greatly enhance clients’ sense that they’re receiving personalized advice.

Ok, here’s where I’ll throw those advisors who still want to send a weekly market review email a bone.  If you have genuinely created a segment of clients who are investment-focused and market-driven, traders not investors who don’t look at market data over the weekend, then by all means send out that update. (This exception is why I said almost never in the opening).

To stand out in today’s evolving advisory business, think about what each client values in their relationship with you.  Communication is very important, but that communication should be personalized, timely and relevant.  A mass distributed message with generic information that anyone could look up two or three days before the advisor sends it out is a waste of time, effort and branding.  

Legal Note

*SEI Survey, HNW Service, July 2018, n=375
Investing involves risk including possible loss of principal. The S&P 500 is a market-capitalization-weighted index of the 500 largest U.S. publicly traded companies.

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Legal Note

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