There are many benefits to an in-person client meeting such as the ways we can tell if a client understands our presentation. Client feedback and comments determine if we are on the right track. We can see a nod in agreement, a tilt of the head indicating confusion, or a blank stare that may show boredom or lack of understanding. A client can stop us in the middle of a discussion to ask questions or clarify a point.
Unlike in the past when you hand-delivered and discussed the reports with clients, you are no longer there to hold their hand every time they look at information. Your clients may still want the human touch, but the era of you spoon-feeding information is gone.
With technology delivering much of the client information, you need to review your reporting process. Is it tailored to meet each client’s needs or does it resemble a commoditized version of “what’s good for one is good for all?” Do your clients have an accurate understanding of their financial situation?
I asked an advisor how he knows his clients understand their reports. He said it’s because they haven’t told him otherwise. The “no news is good news” approach is one way to determine if they understand what you deliver.
What if you’re wrong? What if clients are quiet because they don’t know what questions to ask?
There is a proactive approach to ensure you are delivering the best information to your clients.
Know your clients well
- Are they retirees, baby boomers, or millennials?
- Do they prefer data, information, or a story?
- Do they focus on goals and objectives, or transactions?
- Is their preferred method of communication client portal, presentation materials, or dialogue?
Compare their style with the reports you currently provide them
- Are you a provider of information or a storyteller?
- Do you focus on the past and the path to today, or do you begin with the present and emphasize the future?
- Do your materials represent a log of historical data that you repeat during conversations, or a summary with an emphasis on discussions?
Seize opportunities to provide added-value to your clients
You want each client to understand his/her financial situation and make good financial decisions. Make it your goal to educate your clients with the right reports and information.
If you want to be the core of your clients’ financial information, your reporting process should consist of collecting, aggregating, and disseminating the necessary and relevant information. If you don’t do it, another service provider will. Review all of the sources of data, including portals, through your clients’ eyes. How many accounts can they log into to retrieve information, and in some cases, identical information?
Confirm that you are delivering what your clients can understand. Just because you love pie charts (as do most portfolio reporting software), doesn’t mean everyone loves them. Some people prefer data presented in a table or other chart format.
Don’t leave the process to your technology alone
Today’s technology can deliver everything from a data dump to meaningful presentations with the appropriate information behind them. Don’t throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at your clients’ disposal and expect them to understand its entirety in the same manner as you.
Your human touch is still needed, even when your technology is doing the talking.