It's Time to Commit to the Most Intensive Economic and Market Analysis You've Done for a While

It's Time to Commit to the Most Intensive Economic and Market Analysis You've Done for a While

Ah, Summer. Time to head to the lake, the beach, the backyard. Time to put our feet up, fire up the grill, read a novel perhaps. On the other hand, it may be time to commit to some of the most intensive economic and market analysis we have done for a while.

At the mid-year point—depending on your asset mix, geographic mix, choice of capitalization sector, and industry sector—your mid-year over last year end could be anything from pretty good to downright disappointing. Add to this considerable uncertainty around economic and tax policy, not to mention healthcare policy and geopolitics. Beyond the macro decisions, there are some emerging developments that require us to have a good think about our fundamental approaches to the age-old question of present-value calculations—especially in the still nascent developments in manufacturing and distribution, from advances, for example, in 3D printing, flexible plant design, breakthroughs at the intersection of medicine and engineering, not to mention significant disruption in sectors such as grocery and pharmaceutical. We have significant financial modeling to do to understand the certainty of future cash flows relative to capital investment decisions being made by the sectors and individual businesses that we follow. To be blunt, my sense is that while some innovations are going to result in significant returns, others are going to be financial sinkholes—some fundamental thinking and risk assessment is required of us.

Yes, this summer may be a time to go back to the fundamentals of finance and economics, and to revisit decisions about where to seek growth, and where to seek safety, depending on our clients’ needs for income and capital preservation. To me, this means going all the way back to works like Burton Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street, to deepen and renew knowledge of economic and fiscal policy; and then on to reading about and researching emerging, or dramatically changing, sectors and companies.

This kind of summer reading is going to pay off the next time you meet with a client, especially those who are doing the same investigative work themselves this summer.

If I may add, this is also a wonderful time to revisit our plans and considerations for those community-related activities that we are either involved with already or are thinking about—in the end, all economic activity, if it is to be sustained for the long term, requires that no community gets left behind. Where can you put your talents and passion to work?

Paul K. Bates
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Paul K. Bates, M.T.S., FCPA, FCMA, CMC, Ph.D. (in course). A Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA), Fellow of the Society of Management Accountants (FCMA) and Certifie ... Click for full bio

Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips

Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips

Written by: Shileen Weber

When the American Funds’ Capital Group  asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.

It was client issues.

At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.

It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.

In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.

But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.

Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.

Content is King

Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.

Review what content is already available to you:  Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.

Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.

Related: What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?

The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.

Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.

Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.

Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.

Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.

Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.

The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.

Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
GWG Holdings, Inc.
Investing in Life
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GWG Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:GWGH) the parent company of GWG Life, is a financial services company committed to transforming the life insurance industry through disruptive and i ... Click for full bio