Webinar Recap: Communication Builds Stronger Client Bonds During Crisis
On June 30th, the FCS presented an online panel discussion focused on crisis communications, featuring a nationally ranked financial advisor and three comms pros. The all women panel will talk about how communication is key to building stronger client bonds.
Our thanks to:
- Meghan McCartan, Executive Director, Marketing / OCMO, HighTower
- Angie Newman, SVP, Portfolio Manager, Advisory and Brokerage Services, UBS Wealth Management
- Jean Lavin, Communication Coach and Founder, JL Insight Communications
Our moderator Maria Rosati, CEO, Eminence Communications, provided the following recap.
During any crisis, effective communication is key to retaining and strengthening relationships with core audiences. Covid-19 put that theory to the test. While some advisors refrained from engaging as volatile markets rattled clients, successful advisors ramped up their marketing and communication efforts. With in-person meetings a distant memory, marketers and advisors got creative.
Three key takeaways from this webinar are:
- Why is this crisis different from other crises? First and foremost, Covid-19 is a global health crisis and unique from any experienced in our lifetimes. While it morphed into an economic/ financial crisis and market volatility has been unsettling, this time around, that’s a secondary concern.
The health and safety of family and friends has been the principal worry, and advisors who sensed that addressed those issues from the start. Rather than having pure performance based or market insight conversations, client conversations centered around well-being, safety, and how people were faring during a once-a-century lockdown.
The overarching theme of this crisis is empathy. Advisors that had more empathic conversations with clients gained greater client trust, building stronger bonds. Successful advisors connected with their clients on a more personal level for deeper engagement, making it feel less like a business arrangement than it ever had.
- Different level of client interaction. The overnight shift to working from home was a tremendous adjustment for the entire workforce. As was the case in many industries, client interactions, which would normally be face-to-face, went remote, via phone or virtual channels such as Zoom or Skype. That led to a more informal interaction between client and advisor – both sides letting their guard down a bit, which often led to more rewarding conversations.
Additionally, successful advisors shifted gears and took an all hands-on-deck approach. Some helped clients with daily tasks such as food shopping for those hesitant to head out due to risk factors. Others worked to create events to connect, hosting virtual wine tastings, sending children’s artwork and cards to widows, and getting insight into client hobbies such as gardening, cooking and more.
Interaction has also been about customization – asking better questions to get information to clients the way they want it. Short videos rather than research reports for some, podcasts for others, virtual meetings for more clients than ever.
- Advisors and clients have an opportunity. Every crisis can be an opportunity if acted on. Many in wealth management called Covid a “a wake up call” for both client and advisor on several fronts. From the advisor standpoint, it helped them form stronger bonds with existing clients – making those relationships stickier in the long run.
But what about reaching new clients? Lack of communication is a key reason clients leave their advisor – creating an opening for those with strong communication skills. As some on the panel indicated, many advisors added new clients during this period, and can build on that momentum. And advisors who communicate effectively and consistently generate referrals more than those who don’t.
The opportunity for clients is great as well. With families of all ages under the same roof 24/7 for the first time in years, often difficult, constantly deferred issues were discussed in depth, in conjunction with advisors. Conversations on health and mortality turned into action on issues such as long-term care, legacy and more.
It spurred some younger clients to curtail short-term thinking and take a longer-term view of finances and planning, putting them in a stronger financial position.
For both client and advisor, the shift from heavily weighted performance-based conversations to purpose-based, personal conversations should be long-lasting.