By STEVEN GENOFF
You could be the best financial advisor in the world, with the most knowledge of investments and insurance, but you wouldn’t get anywhere if no one listened to you. Without two-way communications that receive timely responses, financial advisors simply can’t get much done.
We may fall into this trap if we rely on overused and outdated forms of communication, becoming background noise to our clients. Reorient your client communications approach to break through in the ways that work best for them.
Emails and phone calls are at the heart of every professional’s day – the long-standing success of these methods are a testament to this. But there’s a downside: we get so many emails and phone calls that we end up ignoring most of them just to get through the day. Mailchimp reports that the average open rate for all emails is a paltry 21 percent.
We can’t depend on voicemail either – as far back as 2013, eVoice found that only 33 percent of people listened to voicemails from business contacts who they knew and worked with. The proliferation of spam calls makes listening to voicemails even less likely, and returning phone calls often falls to the backburner as we focus our attention on other parts of our lives.
More recent innovations have taken precedence, and these offer better ways to make sure our clients receive and respond to the messages we need to send them. Video-calling software is popular across age groups, and the variety of video-calling options makes it easy to reach people who live in different places and work with different kinds of computers or phones. With our younger clients, we need to adapt to their use of messaging apps that are built into social media websites.
One of the reasons people ignore emails and phone calls is because the senders are either faceless corporations, scammers or people they don’t know. To elevate ourselves from that disreputable crowd, provide enough personal access to your clients so they feel connected.
Videos and video-calls are some of the best ways to foster personal connections within professional communications. Seeing somebody’s face and at least a little bit of the context of their life, even just home office furniture, provides much more information about a person than a phone call or email does. Skype, Zoom and FaceTime are all good options for video-calls, so check with your clients to see which is best for them. Incorporate videos into other forms of communication too – instead of sending regular text messages to my clients, I usually send short videos for everything from reminding them to complete paperwork to wishing them a happy birthday. This helps keep that personal connection going even if I’m not engaged with them in real-time.
Social media messaging is another key way to reach clients, especially younger clients who consider social messages to carry more urgency than other forms of communications. Each social platform has a different user base, but Facebook’s Messenger app, Instagram’s in-app message system and WhatsApp are all worth investigating for most advisors. Keep in mind that Facebook is more popular with older generations compared to Instagram, and WhatsApp is more popular among people with multicultural backgrounds. If you primarily work with younger clients, consider using Snapchat alongside other platforms. Though it isn’t seen very often as a professional tool, the app combines video and text communication in a way that can work well for notices and reminders.
I switched away from emails and voicemails early in my career and saw an immediate jump in engagement from my clients. My only regret is not doing it even sooner. Start using the forms of communication your clients see as more impactful and important, and you’ll create relationships that are more effective and successful.
Steven Genoff, CFP, is a financial planner with Bartons, a boutique Chartered Accounting and Wealth Advisory business. He is the State Chair for MDRT South Australia and has been an MDRT member for five years. Genoff is also a member of the Australian Association of Financial Advisors and regularly contributes to the Bulgarian Education and Friendly Society. He lives in Adelaide, South Australia.