While some of your work as a financial planner is a solo activity, like making calculations and doing research, the heart of your business is interacting with your clients. Your communication and interactions with your clients are what allow you to develop a trusting partnership with them and encourage them to follow your advice. And clients who feel like you treat them well tend to be loyal and recommend you to their family and friends.
It’s so important to offer your clients excellent customer service, but it’s often easier said than done. What does it really mean to be a financial advisor who offers great customer service? How do you improve your skills in this area?
Develop a comprehensive communication system
The first step toward improving your customer service is to make sure you are communicating well with your clients. What does it mean to be an effective communicator? You need to initiate conversations at the right time, respond quickly, and make sure that all your emails and phone calls are respectful.
A good communication strategy doesn’t just happen. You need to be proactive and develop a system for reaching out and responding to your clients. For example, you might send out a regular newsletter and/or contact each of your clients personally every month or quarter – whatever frequency works for them.
It’s also essential to respond in a timely manner when your clients (or potential clients) reach out to you. There are a lot of automation tools that can make this easier. For example, scheduling apps, automatic email responders, and file-sharing apps can make it quick and easy to respond to your clients even when you’re not at your desk.
Hire the right people
While you might work on your own at some points in your career, chances are you’ll need to hire some helpers as your client base grows. It’s important to think about your clients’ needs as well as your own when you are hiring a virtual assistant, paraplanner, or junior planner.
Focus on finding someone who will help you get your tasks done faster and better. You need to be able to trust your paraplanner to make decisions that align with your values and to interact with your clients in a positive and helpful way. Look for someone who is willing to step up and go the extra mile.
Decide ahead of time how to handle tough conversations
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to customer service is dealing with situations where there’s a miscommunication or division between yourself and your client. For example, how will you respond if you find out that your client made a big financial decision without consulting you first? What if it’s a decision you disagree with?
In situations like this, it’s easy to feel frustrated that your client ignored your advice. But it’s imperative to not give in to that temptation to respond in anger.
The best thing you can do is decide ahead of time how you will handle circumstances like this.
Maybe set a rule for yourself that you will take a day or at least a few hours to cool down before responding. Remember that serving your clients means giving them the support they need, even when that means helping them recover from a decision you would have advised against.
Think about your clients’ priorities
Ultimately, one of the most important things you can do to serve your clients is to honor their values and priorities. And sometimes, a client’s financial priorities may be very different from your own.
For example, you might have to help a client make a plan to save for a big purchase you feel is frivolous. Or a client may ask you to help them make a retirement plan that goes against conventional wisdom.
Your clients trust you to deliver sound financial advice, and they need you to support them on the things that matter most to them. You serve your clients by giving them the information, tools, and support they need to make financial decisions that match their personal values.
Give your clients the best experience
Customer service is essential in any profession where you’re interacting with people. Serving your financial planning clients well doesn’t just happen – you need to develop conscious strategies to provide them with a good experience. Develop a system for emails and meetings, hire good people to interact with your clients, and make a plan for handling difficult conversations.
What are your strategies for serving your clients well? What communication resources do you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!
It can be hard to learn how to interact with clients by reading a textbook. One of the best ways to improve your customer services skills is to learn from others. Amplified Planning CORE is an in-depth course that lets you watch planning sessions with expert CFP® professionals and real clients. You get behind-the-scenes commentary from the financial planner and see excellent customer service skills in action. If you’re ready to take your training to the next level, join CORE.