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As an Advisor, Are You “The Great Communicator?”


Ronald Reagan was known as “The Great Communicator” for many reasons. He spoke to people, not at them. He used simple terms that communicated values. He repeated the same message over and over. People took notice. Communication means something different to advisors. It’s often the glue that holds relationships together when TV ads compete on price. It’s also panning for gold, talking to people who might become prospects, friends or someone you can help. How do you stack up?

The Good Communicator

Managed money and fee based business provides a steady revenue stream. This allows advisor to spend time cultivating and deepening relationships.

1. Face to Face Meetings. How often do clients see you? When you sit across from them, reviewing performance, progress to goals or gradually implementing their financial plan, you get visual and verbal clues about the relationship and their concerns.

Assuming you have under 250 relationships and they are local, do you meet with each client at least once a year? What about the 20% that provide 80% of your business? Are you meeting face to face at least quarterly?

2. Phone and other contacts. Client Relationship Management (CRM) software and other tools can prompt you to contact clients regularly. They have birthdays and anniversaries. An old rule of thumb is clients perceive they are getting good service if they receive meaningful contacts 6+ times a year.

Are you calling clients, “holding their hands” during times of market volatility? Your best clients are your competitor’s best prospects. Assume someone is calling or contacting them often, asking “When was the last time you heard from your advisor?”

3. The firm’s “secret police” play a role too. If your client is on a fee based platform and there hasn’t been any activity in the account, someone in compliance might suggest the client is better off with the transactional pricing model.

You client may own “good stuff.” Sitting tight makes good sense. Your client contact records should prove you have been in touch regularly and have given this advice to your client. Should they add to positions? Have you suggested other ideas? Asked for additional money?

4. You’ve heard the expression: “Six degrees of separation.” The logic is everyone in the world is connected to everyone else in six or less steps. (1) LinkedIn became the tool to practically apply the principle to business situations.

Have you built a substantial network of 1st level connections? Do you follow LinkedIn’s prompts for potential connections? When you meet new people socially or professionally, do you suggest connecting on LinkedIn?

5. Social Prospecting. If the average American knows 600 people, (2) do all of them know Who you are, What you do and Why you are good?

You can raise people’s awareness without being pushy. As a NYC advisor explained: “People may want to do business with you for a long time. The thing they haven’t figured out is why they need you.”

The answer to the above five questions is obviously yes. You are doing all this stuff. Obviously, you are a Great Communicator.

Related: Why Should I Do Business With You?

Related: Move Over Robots: Volatility Highlights Advisor Value

The Bad Communicator

With the explosion of robo-calls, e-mails and social media, we are bombarded with people trying to get our attention. According to an article on, 2015 figures estimate the average person receives 88 e-mails a day. (3) Add in phone calls, social media, texting and other channels. The number grows.

1. Your LinkedIn Network. You’ve built a network of 500+ connections. Well done! Do you do anything with them?

Some are clients. Others friends, prospects or people whose invitations you accepted. I’ve been sending five personal messages a day to people I haven’t seen or talked to for a while. To show I’m not trawling for business, I bring up personal recollections about them or talk about how our family is preparing for the holidays. It humanizes the communication channel.

2. Phone messages. Voicemails has practically made the secretarial function obsolete. Do you ignore calls or delete voicemails from people giving you little revenue, did business in the distant past, folks who are probably selling something or others you consider a nuisance?

Unfortunately, some of your own calls to others are perceived the same way. It’s been said opportunity knocks, but you must open the door. If someone is selling something, it takes only a moment to politely say, “Not interested.” If it’s a lower revenue client, talking with them shows respect.

3. LinkedIn Invites. You receive invitations to connect from time to time. Obviously, you are going to think twice before connecting with someone who represents themselves as a government official in central Africa who doesn’t use English properly. What about other people local to your area or somehow connected with the industry? Do you ignore invitations because the name isn’t familiar?

LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to check out their profile. You can see how many connections you share in common. You can easily call one of these connections, asking: “Who is this guy?”

4. LinkedIn Posts. Do you post article links regularly? Do you use a service that posts links you choose on a timing you select? That’s great! You are building name recognition. But that’s only the first step.

LinkedIn allows people to “like” and “comment” on your posts. Do you thank them for liking it? If you aren’t connected, do you send them an invitation to connect? If they have taken the time to post a comment, do you respond to their comment? Do you comment on other’s posts? (This assumes your firm allows these activities.)

5. Family oriented. Some advisors see the job as a 9:00 – 5:00 activity. You work at the office. You go home and spend time with your family. That’s good, but there are issues if you do so at the expense of contributing to the community where you live.

Are you involved in the community as a volunteer? Do you attend events held by nonprofits and local charities? Do you know the neighbors? If you make a good living and live in a nice area, the people around you are probably in the same economic bracket. If they met you, they probably would like you. They have needs too. Many people prefer to do business with someone they know. 

This second list is tougher. You might do the right things in a couple of boxes, while doing the same as many other people for the other categories. You want to be a Good Communicator in as many categories as possible.
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