As financial planners try to deal with the day-to-day of running a business, quality time with clients can occasionally be put on the backburner. But good relationships become the basis for word-of-mouth referrals, which can become a financial planning firm’s most efficient marketing tool.

Word of mouth is always the strongest driver of referrals – and this is true for any professional services firm. Existing clients should be a firm’s best advocates.

For this to happen, financial advisers need to spend quality time with clients. The nature of that time will depend on the client’s preferences of course, but that doesn’t mean personal contact is out of the question. They might be able to zoom for half an hour in the early evening. Flexibility is key and, ironically, we do have Covid-19 to thank for an increased array of communication opportunities.

It’s also important to have an overall philosophy of being on your client’s team and always trying to do what is best for them. This means not only giving them the best advice possible, but also doing your utmost to explain why it is best for them.

Trust

Trust is the cornerstone of any good relationship and an adviser’s relationship with their client is no different. Mutual respect and trust are needed to promote understanding and efficiency. Where this exists, clients invariably are more satisfied.

But to be clear, this does not mean your client abdicates all financial decisions to you as their financial adviser. It means them trusting you enough to create a collegiate team that can work together to help them achieve their financial goals. It means, for example, they know you understand their risk budget, and would not try to persuade them to take on an investment that is beyond their risk appetite.

Extra value

It also helps to go that extra mile. Putting in an extra call to a nervous client when market volatility picks up is very important. We heard stories during the early days of Covid-19-induced market volatility of proactive advisers who called their clients before they called them. These kinds of efforts will not go unnoticed in the long-term and assist in building strong relationships and promoting word-of-mouth referrals.

A financial planning firm might look to have regular roadshows or breakfast events with clients to explain current market activity or walk through the budget and explain what it means for retirees.

Of course, there is an explicit cost in holding such events, but the implicit benefit is a stronger client relationship and all the advantages that can bring a financial planning firm.

All about connection

Personal contact is always important and in today’s world it should not be difficult to develop activities that involve clients in a way that they see adds value to the relationship.

In addition to physical events where appropriate, social media and regular blogs on subjects clients find useful are cost effective means of creating new opportunities for contact with clients and providing them with insights.