By Austyn Anthony Smith
It’s not an overstatement to say ours is a profession built on relationships. Understanding and truly connecting with our clients unlocks endless opportunity – for us to deliver better recommendations, make our clients happier and grow our businesses.
In my practice, all it took was three simple strategies to build a community of true connections.
1. Ask Your Client What They Value About Your Practice
Next time you meet with your clients, take a moment to ask each of them why they work with you. What do they consider different, or perhaps even a little bit special, about your practice? Allow your clients to fully answer the question and record their comments as close to verbatim as possible.
After several of these interviews, you’ll have a great picture of which aspects of your business your clients truly value. Not only can this help you finetune your business strategy, with the proper permissions you could also repurpose your clients’ comments for marketing materials to grow your business.
2. Share With Your Clients, and They’ll Share With You
How much of your journey and personal story have you shared with your clients? The more you open up, the more they’ll share and the more meaningful the conversation can get. Try to avoid asking simple questions (e.g., “how are you doing?”) that elicit stock responses.
Instead, take it a step further – for example, ask them how they’re feeling and follow up on their answer. This type of back and forth should inspire more emotion in the conversation and ultimately lead to better connections.
3. Keep in Touch With Your Clients
This strategy has always been important, but it’s been even more so during the pandemic. Since COVID-19 disrupted everybody’s normal routines, my practice began sending clients weekly audio updates simply to stay in touch.
These audios don’t contain financial advice, just personal updates and thoughts on what’s going on in the news – the types of things we’d typically touch on during the casual opening minutes of client meetings. Our goal is to offer little snippets of reassurance, acknowledging that we’re navigating the uncertainty of the pandemic together and trying to maintain a sense of community.
The videos aren’t fancy, but they have been incredibly effective: Because of positive client feedback, they’re still going strong more than a year after we sent the first one.
Maintaining client relationships and encouraging engagement have always been essential aspects of our profession. Pandemic or not, staying connected by thinking outside the box and continuing to have meaningful conversations can go a long way.
About the Author
Austyn A. Smith, Dip PFS, has spent 25 years helping retirees clarify their retirement journey, reducing uncertainty, freeing up their time and enabling growth. He’s the CEO of Austyn Smith Associates, an award-winning U.K. financial planning firm, the co-host of Austyn’s Insights weekly audio call and the author of “Money Mapping: Creating a Relationship Centered Business.”