The Importance of Getting in Front of Clients

Interview with Dr. Glenn Freed

By Elite Advisor Report staff

Key Takeaways:

  • There is no “magic number” of times that you should meet with and contact clients each year. Each client has unique needs and varying comfort levels with technology. You need to customize.
  • You don’t want to “react” to a dissatisfied client—you should be asking yourself continuously whether you’re delivering a high level of value to the client. If not, refer that person to a better-suited advisor.
  • View difficult clients as marketing opportunities. If you can transform a tough client into a satisfied client, he or she can become one of your best sources of referrals.
  • Make sure you build deep relationships with key members of a client’s family, including the next generation. In times of heartbreak and despair, people reach out to the advisors they can trust.

ELITE ADVISOR REPORT: Glenn, what are the most important things that advisors tend to forget when meeting with clients face-to-face?

GLENN FREED: Advisors need to put themselves in their clients’ shoes. Check in with them at the start of the meeting and find out what their most pressing wealth management issues are. You have to walk into a client meeting with a real “advisor” mentality. You really have to be ready to listen to your clients and focus on what’s most important to them at this particular point in their lives.

EAR: CEG Worldwide Research shows that regardless of portfolio returns, advisors who meet with clients on a regular basis earn at least three times as much as advisors who don’t meet with clients on a regular basis. Is that what you’re finding?

GF: The frequency and quantity of contacts should not necessarily be fixed and predetermined for every one of your clients. The key is the quality of the client contacts. Each client needs to be profiled to determine the ideal number of contacts. For example, a client’s age and comfort with technology can impact your contact frequency. A client in his or her 40s who is busy building wealth might not want to have three in-person meetings a year. That person might be okay with phone, email and Skype communication. By contrast, a retiree in his or her 70s and 80s might want more than three in-person meetings a year and not consider a phone or email exchange a “real” client meeting. The key is to know your clients.

EAR: How about emailing clients and sending them newsletters. Does that count as meaningful “contact” with your clients?

GF: Again, the most meaningful touches are those that are customized to the interest of your clients. Sending clients a general newsletter, while important to building your brand, can become a nuisance to clients in the age of information overload. But other clients will open it and read it religiously. You need a one-on-one, customized communication plan for each client in order to create and maintain meaningful contact.

EAR: When do you know that it’s time to sever ties with a client even if the client doesn’t fire you first?

GF: Advisors need to evaluate the value they bring to their clients very honestly and consistently. If advisors don’t believe they can deliver a high level of value to their clients and/or their clients don’t believe they are receiving a high level of value from their advisor, then the advisors need to re-evaluate the client relationship ASAP. An advisor does not want to “react” to a dissatisfied client. A dissatisfied client who becomes a satisfied client can become one of your best referral sources for new clients. View difficult clients as marketing opportunities. If an advisor cannot create a healthy business relationship with a client, then the advisor should counsel the client that another advisor may be a better fit for the person.

EAR: When a long-standing HNW client passes away, what steps should advisors take to make sure the next generation stays with them?

GF: I recently spoke to an advisor whose client passed away unexpectedly. The advisor talked about how all the planning he did for the client prepared the client’s wife for financial security. The advisor talked about the one critical mistake he made with the client. He did not insist that the wife attend the twice-yearly client meetings. Now the wife is looking to someone she knows better to get financial advice. The point of the story is that the advisor needs to build deep relationships with the key members of a client’s family, because in a time of despair and heartbreak, people reach out to the advisors they can trust. Make sure you build that trusted relationship with the next generation.

EAR: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Elite Advisor Report readers?

GF: Remember the old saying “Trust takes a lifetime to build and a moment destroy.” Always keep your moral compass and you will be the best advisor to your clients.

About the Author

Vericimetry is an academically based, quantitatively structured investment adviser providing capacity-constrained asset class strategies to an exclusive group of elite financial advisors. Website: www.vericimetry.com.

Glenn S. Freed, PhD, CPA, PFS, is a leading investment and tax expert in the investment management industry. Dr. Freed is the Chief Executive Officer of Vericimetry Advisors LLC, which intends to make necessary filings to become an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission during 2011. Dr. Freed has 25 combined years of experience in investment management, tax and accounting research, education, and tax advising. He received a PhD from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Southern California and a BS in accounting from the University of Florida.

Phone: (818) 813-1351