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Improving Your Clients’ Lifecycle Journey: From Building the Plan to Retention and Referrals – Part 2
• Connor Sung • March 23, 2021
In any successful financial planning engagement, the relationship is constantly growing as the client’s life changes. Every client goes through a lifecycle of engagement, decision-making, implementation, and re-engagement.
To optimize customer lifecycle management in financial services, you must align planning and marketing as a single process—allowing you to refine every step and maximize both the client’s experience and your business development efforts.
The Second Half of the Journey: Collaborating on a Living, Breathing Plan
We covered the first half of the journey in part 1 of this series, which is all about establishing your brand and setting expectations for the planning-led relationship. The second half of the journey focuses on the building and ongoing collaboration on the financial plan. Planning, of course, doesn’t end after this second half—it’s a continuous cycle that follows the constantly growing relationship between financial professional and client.
The first half of the journey covered:
- Establishing your brand
- Communication and content
- Client meeting
- Creating a client experience
In this post, we’ll discuss the second part of the client’s journey:
- Building and presenting the plan
- Sharing content and checking in
- Monitoring progress
- Retaining and referring
Marketing may seem like a process that’s finished once someone becomes a client, but this isn’t the case at all. In the same way, financial planning doesn’t start with creating a plan—it starts by building a foundation of trust, which is necessary for a close and productive planning relationship.
Our previous post discussed at length this trust and relationship-building process. Once the client and financial professional are comfortable with the conversation and data they’ve shared, the second half of the journey begins with the formation of a financial plan.
Building and Presenting the Plan
Once it’s time to build the plan, it’s important to discuss and analyze the client’s current course of action so you can start to get a picture of potential alternative courses of action. You’re working towards discovering what’s most important to them. When you can deliver a plan that addresses their specific needs, you’re demonstrating the value you can bring to them. This is especially true when you can help the client visualize the current course of action.
After you’ve gathered enough information to analyze the current situation, it’s time to develop some potential alternative courses of action, at which point you will meet again to present the plan and discuss those recommendations. It’s important to keep in mind that your recommendations may require clients to reprioritize their lifestyles or make sacrifices. Presenting plans in an interactive format brings clients into the planning process. When they can collaborate with you, they’ll be able to help you build in the right balance of lifestyle changes and sacrifices to make their goals aggressive but achievable.
Sharing Content and Checking in
After someone becomes a client, it’s incredibly important to stay in contact, both for the relationship and for the success of the client. Things don’t always get implemented. Life happens, things change. Educational and motivational content reinforces your connection with clients.
You can share content relevant to their phase of the wealth journey. It’s an ongoing process of sharing via email, social media, your blog, and your website. Informative content establishes your expertise and keeps clients engaged in between meetings. It could even open the door to additional business when you share things like educating clients on the importance of logging into their client site more often—this could improve financial advisor client retention by increasing engagement with financial plans and even lead to more referrals from happier clients.
The financial plan isn’t the only value you can offer clients. By sharing educational content on a regular basis, you can stay top of mind while helping clients educate themselves, which is a value-add outside of the financial plan. This helps build closer, longer-lasting relationships. Automated communication workflows make this process scalable and repeatable, minimizing manual effort.
Monitoring Progress and Continually Collecting Client Data
As the client’s life changes, you’ll need to discuss their goals and their values, reprioritize, regather data, and adjust the plan. Staying in touch by monitoring the plan’s progress and proactively reaching out to make adjustments helps build trust.
Monitoring progress also helps personalize each plan as you collect additional client data and make relevant updates, which facilitates the deeper, long-term relationship clients view as essential to meeting their life goals. Also, you can help keep clients invested in their financial plan by directing them back to their client portal when updates are needed and new decisions must be made.
Automated communication workflows are great for staying in touch, but they’re also useful in setting meetings as well. Establishing a regular meeting cadence ensures clients continue progressing on their lifecycle journey as a partner in their own success.
Retaining and Referring
Creating a meaningful experience, above all else, is the most important objective for both your existing clients and the growth of your business. If you’re able to deliver an exceptional client experience through the whole lifecycle, you’ll retain clients because of the value you provide, and referrals will start to happen naturally as a result. Be sure to send surveys to clients when possible to continue improving your service model.
Don’t be afraid to ask for more referrals, though. You’ll be surprised at how willing clients are to help, especially after you’ve given them a great experience or helped them achieve a major milestone. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently revamped rules allowing financial professionals to use testimonials in marketing materials, so even if a client can’t give a referral, they may be able to provide a testimonial. These can be incredibly powerful affirmations of the superior service you provide, helping you attract more clients organically.
Addressing the Entire Client Lifecycle Creates Business Growth and Better Client Outcomes
When you improve the client’s entire lifecycle, approaching every marketing and planning touchpoint as part of a continuous process, you can bring on more clients, delight those clients, earn referrals, garner more interest in your services, and spark a cycle of organic growth for your business.
It’s all driven by what you do best: delivering an exceptional planning experience for your clients. If you want to take a deeper dive into this subject, watch our on-demand webinar where I’m joined by Rachel Eccles, VP of Marketing at eMoney. We’ll walk through a use case scenario, using a standard Millennial prospect, and we’ll discuss the interweaving aspects of marketing and planning and how perfecting both leads to more planning revenue.
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