In our last episode, Kitces & Carl opened a proverbial can of worms by asking if financial advisors still, in this day and age, send out market commentary to their clients. And if so, what do they send? The general conclusion was that, yes, advisors still need to touch base with their clients, outside of their regular service cycle, using some sort of bulk communication tool or personalized report. Because doing so accomplishes several goals, including and especially that it demonstrates to clients that the person they trusted to manage their life savings is “paying attention.”
Regular communication, meanwhile, is especially important for those clients who are in the “Cone of Trust” (e.g., that stage of the relationship where a client has been with an advisor long enough to meet much less frequently and understands that the advisor will reach out if there’s a problem, and vice versa) because it helps ensure that the client actually stays in the Cone of Trust. Unfortunately, though, while our intrepid hosts were able to conclude that sending something is better than sending nothing (and especially better than anything that features a couple holding hands against a backdrop of a lighthouse on the beach), they ran out of time before they could answer the question: What should advisors be sending their clients?
So, in our (lucky) 13th episode, Michael Kitces and financial advisor communication expert Carl Richards sit down to discuss why it’s important to send regular commentary, provide a specific example of an easy and effective way to let clients know that you are thinking about them and their challenges, and why it matters so much that it ultimately comes from you (versus any number of white-labeled, off-the-shelf offerings).
In general, what advisors send out for regular communication generally fell into three buckets. Some use third-party commentary and other materials from a reputable source (some of which can be “white-labeled”), others question the value of even sending anything out at all (since the objective is for clients to not focus on and become concerned about short-term market gyrations), while still others insist no one should be sending content unless it was produced in-house (since the goal is for the advisor to establish their own expertise and authority).
For advisors who fall somewhere between the second and third camps, but whose skill set doesn’t include content creation, one effective strategy is to send out a collection of interesting articles (which may or may not have anything to do with money or “the market”), along with a short comment on why you found it useful. It provides a means of still connecting with clients (since ultimately, whether you connect frequently can be just as important as what you send to connect). And this way, when something noteworthy in the market does come along, your clients (or even prospects) are already accustomed to your cadence.
Ultimately, the key point is simply that it does matter that advisors send something to their clients and that they do so on a fairly predictable basis. Because if you are consistently communicating with clients, you can dictate the tone and focus of whatever it is you’re sending. Which means at the end of the day, what matters is that you do take some time, on a regular basis, to send something (preferably in your own words… even if it’s just a sentence or two about why you find a particular article useful). And when you do, you send a clear signal to your audience that you’re thinking about them… and about the responsibility you have as a steward of their life savings!