Answering the Question: “What Have You Done for Me Lately?"

Earning your Keep

Back in the Dark Ages, when advisors shared Quotron machines and municipal bonds yielded 12%, a client could buy 100 shares of AT&T, hold it in their account for ten years, pay minimal account fees and ask for service and advice whenever they pleased. Today, many clients have fee based accounts and are paying higher annual fees. They wonder and might even ask, “What have you done for me lately?” Six Ways to Show Value in Ongoing RelationshipsYou are a great advisor. You review portfolios regularly. Often the best advice during turbulent times is to hold onto everything and do nothing. It’s what that guy who bought his 100 shares of AT&T did. It’s been said the market goes up like an escalator and down like an elevator. You might talk to clients often when the market is volatile, yet few clients realize you are probably working just as hard when stocks are headed in the right direction. How can you show clients the value you being to the table? 1. Meaningful contacts.These should be as personal as possible. Clients might prefer e-mail, yet according to, the average office worker receives 121 e-mails each day. (1) At a recent party I met an executive assistant who explained she gets 600 on the average day. According to (2) people over 55 send or receive 16 per day. Teenagers average 128 per day. Meaningful contacts are often by phone or in person. Yes, you will likely need to schedule the call by e-mail or text. 2. How many contacts?Years ago, the magic number was determined to be 6+ meaningful contacts represented good service. This should still hold today. Sales calls don’t count. Calls to tell about a news story that relates to one of their holdings counts a lot. 3. Portfolio reviews.People want to know how they are doing. They want report cards. Clients like them because it holds the advisor accountable. This serves as an opportunity to properly frame performance, so a client with a 50% exposure to equities doesn’t wonder why their overall portfolio performance lags the S&P 500. Annual reviews should be a minimum standard, quarterly are better. 4. Progress to goals.Are you a wine fan? Wines are rated by critics. It seems no one wants a wine with a score below 90 points. As a result, you rarely see a wine with a score below 90 points. Might this mean the 100 point scale is now an 11 point scale? That dilemma transfers into reporting client performance. Clients want to beat the indexes, yet they may miss the point the index presumes a higher degree of risk than they agreed to take. Better to measure performance as progress to goals. What return do they need to have enough money to retire comfortably, to “hit their number?” For investors with a long time horizon, that return might not be that high. Best of all, if they outperform for a few years and keep saving, they need a lower return in later years, allowing them to take less risk. 5. Continuing education.Imagine if your doctor said: “I don’t believe in any of that new stuff.” If you had a serious illness, you would change doctors! You want someone up to date on the latest medical technology. This holds true for investing. If you are taking courses for an additional professional certification, yell your clients. You are increasing your base of knowledge to give them better advice. Tell them about CE courses too. They likely need to take them too. 6. Confidentiality. It has value too. Remind clients what you don’t do. You don’t talk about them with people outside the firm. You don’t even acknowledge they are a client! This becomes a good transition into how they can tell as many people as they like you and they work together. You encourage it. But that door only swings one way. 7. Taking credit.They needed documentation. Maybe their accountant wanted a cost basis or purchase date for an old security they discovered they owned. Your assistant sprang into action. They contacted operations. Someone found the file, still on microfilm. (It was a very old record!) Copies were made. They were overnighted to your office. You did the same, sending them to the accountant. You confirmed reciept. Tell that story! Give your assistant credit. You want the client to realize the resources of the firm were pulled together to solve the client’s problem. 8. Recommended publications, websites.You are a financial professional. Your client is not. You keep current with the markets. How do you do that? You might share resources you use. Your Compliance folks likely have an opinion, but theWSJandBarronsare basics. Firm research can be accessed online by clients. Your firm likely provides research opinions from other services too. Let your clients know how you spend your time on their behalf. They might ask how you find specific resources valuable.These steps, assembled together, create a picture of an advisor who has the client’s objectives and best interests top of mind. You are adding value.(1)!10969&ithint=file%2cdocx&wdNewAndOpenCt=1576600153467&wdPreviousSession=5a3c9201-2f1d-4721-ba02-8e8e0085f2a5&wdOrigin=OFFICECOM-HWA;START;NEW(2)

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