Last week, my financial advisor made a simple gesture, creating feelings of belonging within me.
He sent me a box of chocolates.
Really, Sharron? That’s not original.
Yet, upon opening the box, I immediately felt a part of something.
With one simple gesture, my advisor let me know I was a member of his community.
Furthermore, he shaped a situation that spurred a thank you outreach from me. Ultimately, he created an environment I felt welcome in while building a client touchpoint for himself.
Given this simple, yet fulfilling client experience, I pondered what else advisors could do to create a sense of belonging and community among clients and prospects.
Therefore, what follows are nine ideas to help you help clients feel as if they belong to something greater than themselves.
As you read these ideas, keep in mind that loneliness is on the rise. In fact, according to a survey by the global health services company Cigna, three in five adults (61%) report they are lonely.
Why is this relevant to financial advisors?
Because loneliness often comes from feelings of being misunderstood or lacking companionship; perceptions easily addressed by listening to clients and helping them feel included, i.e., meeting with a client creates involvement within their life.
What’s more, clients who are mentally healthy are more likely to make balanced financial decisions, leading to more assets under management.
Let’s get started…
9 Ways to Create Feelings of Belonging for Advisory Clients
#1 – Ask clients their opinions.
For example, “How would you feel if I opened a second office?” Or, “I’m considering aligning with ABC Nonprofit to increase community awareness about our firm, what do you think?”
By asking a client their point of view, you’re expressing that you value your relationship with them as well as their knowledge and insights, ultimately helping them feel involved in something greater than themselves.
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#2 – Elevate clients.
For example, if your client is involved in a philanthropic venture, reach out to your broker-dealer or other strategic partners to explore what complimentary communication vehicles they have available, helping you promote your client’s cause.
Potential partner marketing vehicles may include: corporate news channels, social media, quarterly email newsletters, etc.
Key outcomes include supporting your client and helping to create feelings of belonging, extending the reach of your client’s philanthropic efforts and increasing your brand exposure. The added exposure occurs because you’ll be mentioned in conjunction with your client throughout your partners’ communications.
#3 – Use a client’s name at least twice during meetings.
Your clients know you have other clients. When you use their name, it reinforces that you know them and that your attention is focused on them. For example, “I agree with your feedback, Susan; however, consider … “
#4 – Ask follow-up questions unique to clients from a prior meeting.
For example, “Max was struggling with math last time we talked. How did he end up doing on his midterms?”
Being specific with your client communications is a powerful interpersonal strategy that deepens client trust.
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#5 – Disclose an unknown fact about yourself.
When you do, you’re exhibiting that you trust your client, drawing them closer to you and creating feelings of belonging.
For example, “My worst grade in high school was math. It wasn’t because I couldn’t do math. But at the time it held no purpose, so I’d goof off in the class. How wrong I was.” (laughing)
#6 – Distribute information exclusive to clients.
For example, your email subject line could read: Exclusive to TallRock Financial Clients | Unspoken Market Trends
Remember, trust is deepened through exclusive relationships because exclusivity removes uncertainty.
Also, limiting information creates a sense of scarcity, enhancing the value of your wealth management services while deepening bonds within your client community.
#7 – Make unexpected gestures.
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For example, your client’s child graduated from high school and you send the graduate a copy of The Richest Man in Babylon. (#CommissionsEarned)
Accompanying the book is your handwritten note that includes: congratulating him, and extending an open invitation to lunch and one personalized reason that’ll inspire him to read the book.
#8 – Set up Google Alerts for all client family members.
This activity is ideally suited for your administrative assistance.
The goal is to become aware of happenings in your client’s life, e.g., completed a road race, received a promotion, death in the family, college graduation, awards/honors, etc.
Additionally, consider setting an alert regarding your clients’ employers, proactively preparing for potential employer-related changes that could impact clients, e.g., healthcare open enrollment, stock split, etc.
#9 – Mail a personal note each workday.
When was the last time you received a short, highly-personalized note in the mail?
Practicing this simple marketing activity will set you apart.
Again, this is an excellent activity for your administrative assistance. Ask the latter to brainstorm some wording, expediting the process. Keep in mind, to make the most sincere impression, the note should be handwritten by you.
Here are a few ideas:
- Congratulations on your anniversary, grandchild, …
- Thank you for the gift, referral, …
- Thought you’d find this [article], [book], [etc.] interesting…
- Saw this, thought of you…
- Invitation to…
Ultimately, to create feelings of belonging among advisory clients, be prepared and present during all interactions and make frequent thoughtful gestures.
Before You Go