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Tom Hegarty: Keeping client relationships strong

Business-Corporate-Hire-Social-Media-700x450.jpgDo not let clients forget about everything you can do for them in between your scheduled reviews

The introduction of the RDR had a number of implications for advisers, one of the biggest being the ban on commission.

The change necessitated a shift from a transactional to a service-based proposition delivered in return for a fee. Now, with the model very much the norm, the demonstrable delivery of ongoing services has never been more important.

This year sees advisers inhabiting not only a post-RDR, but also a post-Mifid II world, making it likely they will have to see clients at least on an annual basis to review circumstances and conduct ongoing suitability evaluations.

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But whether these meetings happen annually, bi-annually or even quarterly, what can be done in the interim to show ongoing commitment? This is where a robust, sustainable and well-considered client communication plan could prove vital.

 Client communication plan

  • Something all advisers must bear in mind is the incoming General Data Protection Regulation. I am sure you will have read and heard plenty in the past few months about this new legislation, so I will not go into too much depth here. In summary, clients must opt-in to various types and methods of communication.
  • As well as GDPR, all client communications need to meet other regulatory requirements. Get compliance sign-off and ensure none could be construed to be giving advice.
  • To ensure clients are receiving relevant information, at a frequency that suits their needs, segment your client bank. I have seen this done successfully in a number of different ways, such as points on an individual’s financial journey, net worth or financial sophistication.
  • With regard to content, remember you will be catering to a large audience, so keep it as generic as possible. One key is to ensure the client feels they are receiving your personal attention, so it is important that your voice or brand comes through. Aim for material that is educational and thought provoking, demonstrating the range and complexity of financial planning.
  • Be as creative as possible when considering the range of media you will use. There is, and always will be, a place for printed material. However, there are many other ways to keep in touch:

Valuations or fund switches – depending on your investment proposition, you may already provide clients with regular valuations, fund notifications and requests for authority to switch funds. These are all touchpoints that engage clients around their specific investments.

Newsletters – you can create both hard and soft copies of the newsletter for different segments of your client bank, and even distribute the material at different frequencies. There are numerous high-quality options of white-labelled newsletters, or you can work with a design agency to include your own content. Neither option need be expensive.

Workshops and presentations – some firms choose to run workshops for a certain segment of their client bank, to go through a specific subject relevant to that group.

Webinars – you may choose to conduct live webinars to your clients, offering them the opportunity to pose questions electronically.

Videos – producing short videos can be a quick and cheap process. Keep them short and concise, then they can be uploaded to the website and through social media channels.

Customer service/feedback calls – calls can be conducted to rate client satisfaction on your service, or surveys could be sent out by post or electronically. You should not view this as an exercise to meet your TCF obligations, but to genuinely find areas of your proposition to improve.

– Social media – the range of options here is wide and growing. And social media is not affected by GDPR, as clients are effectively opting-in by connecting with and or following you.

  • Client entertainment – this is a really good way to show your top clients how much you value them and hopefully ensure future referrals. This should not conflict with inducement rules, as long as it is reasonable and proportionate.

Do not feel fazed by the prospect of putting a client communication plan together. Bear in mind that you are also a customer of many other businesses, so consider the ways in which you like to receive information and how it makes you feel.

Also ask your clients what they would like to receive from you and how often. Their feedback may prove invaluable when building a successful plan that ensures do not forget you are there.

Tom Hegarty is managing director at New Model Business Academy


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