Building links with the adult children of your clients

One significant challenge facing many Financial Brokers in Ireland today is in relation to their ageing client base. For many established advisers who have been offering financial advice and solutions to their clients for many years, their challenge is that their clients belong to the same generation as themselves.

These clients are moving towards retirement age, at which stage they will stop accumulating further assets, and in fact will start de-cumulating, through living off their ARFs and other investments built up during their working lives. And as their assets reduce, so does the remuneration of many advisers whose charges are based solely on asset values.

But an even bigger problem arises when these clients die. I read a statistic from the US recently that suggested that children do not retain their parent’s adviser in 90% – 95% of cases after their parent’s death. This results in the adviser’s remuneration going immediately to zero.

This is a shocking figure! Shocking because of the sheer size of the figure, but also shocking because there is a lot that Financial Brokers can do to build solid relationships with the adult children of your clients.

 

Introduce yourself!

First of all, make sure that your client’s children know who you are. Seek permission from your client to introduce yourself to them – not to hound them for business, but so that their children have a recognised and friendly face in the event of the death of the parent. You want your client’s children to know,

  • Who you are
  • Where and how to contact you
  • The areas where you are helping their parents (obviously with the parent’s permission).

Should a death occur in the family, at least now you are a friendly face who has some chance of working collaboratively with the children of your deceased client, rather than some faceless organisation that the client doesn’t know, doesn’t trust and will be generally wary of dealing with.

 

Demonstrate your value from afar

Then when you are introduced to your client’s children, don’t immediately start trying to sell them solutions. Instead take it slowly and add value by adding them to your ongoing communications networks – look to add them to your email newsletter, connect with them on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter etc. If you are hosting a relevant seminar, you should even consider suggesting to your clients that they bring one of their adult children along to it.

Now you have an opportunity to remind these adult children regularly of the value that you add to your clients (and their parents), and how in time you could also add value to them. Carefully chosen messages of the value that you add just might get them to contact you as a financial need arises in their own lives.

 

Include them (as appropriate) in their parent’s financial plans

This is obviously an area in which you need to tread carefully, but there may well be areas of a parent’s financial planning in which it makes sense to involve their adult children. As parents move towards the later stages of their lives, wealth transfer, estate planning and legacy building tend to become important areas for consideration.

While parents may not want to share every small detail of their financial situation with their children, some planning will make lives easier down the road.

Talk to your clients (and their adult children) about the importance of having a will. Talk all of them through the benefits of putting an enduring power of attorney in place. Build a partnership with a good solicitor who can put these in place for them.

Ensure your clients and their adult children understand the structure and implications of making gifts from a parent to a child and of Capital Acquisitions Tax. Make sure they are aware of the annual exemptions available so that they can avail of these exemptions whenever possible.

 

At the end of the day, you want the opportunity to demonstrate to the adult children of your clients that you really care about your clients, that their interests are paramount in everything that you do. They will see you a valuable, trusted adviser to their parents. And they will also see that you can carry out the same role for them too.

AIDA – know your client’s buying cycle

First of all, this is not a review of AIDA, the opera by Verdi! Instead it’s a few thoughts on how an often-used marketing acronym that is usually used in relation to advertising to describe a buying cycle, can be applied to the services offered by a financial planner or broker.

AIDA in this context stands for

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

Each of these steps is part of the mental journey that a client will embark upon, before he or she decides to use the services of a financial planner. It is important for you to remain alert that you are delivering on each of the steps, or else you are likely to end up with a sales funnel with a hole in it.

So what are the marketing and sales activities that you might deliver, in order to ensure that you can build up a steady flow of new clients?

 

Awareness

This stage is all about building your presence in general and is about simply getting on to the radar of potential clients. Any mass marketing activities that you carry out will be done with the goal of building awareness. These will include advertisements that you place in national or local newspapers, radio ads and of course any online advertising that you carry out. Writing editorial that subsequently gets published will also help you to build awareness as will any local sponsorship activities that you carry out.

Another activity that will help to build awareness, but that is a lot closer to home is referrals. When an existing client of yours suggests to a potential client that he / she might seek your services out, this is awareness building, but of course is much stronger and more personal than the mass marketing activities mentioned above.

 

Interest

Now you’re on your potential client’s radar! Your goal now is to pique their interest and to demonstrate that your financial planning business is the one for them. When the prospect looks to find out more about your business, you want to ensure that the information they get heightens their interest.

Your website plays a really important role here, as does your LinkedIn profile. Both of these are very important.  Do they press the buttons that will get people thinking “this is the business for me” or will they end up feeling that your business is no different to any other financial advice business out there? Are your services clearly explained? Are there good testimonials that demonstrate real live stories of how you can change people’s lives? Are there case studies that show your excellent problem solving capabilities?

And then you need to have strong “Calls to Action” to move prospective clients to the next step, to ensure they don’t then simply lose touch with your business. You need to make it easy for prospects to sign up for your newsletter or better still, to contact your business.

 

Desire

Building the desire to act is hard for financial planners. This is typically built by retail businesses through short-term price promotions etc. Personally I don’t believe that price promotions / “free” consultations are effective for financial planners.

Instead seek to build desire through demonstrating your value. Use your client newsletter and your social media activities to demonstrate your expertise, and to firmly position yourself as the provider of excellent and professional advice and services, and the financial planning firm of choice.

Of course you can also invite prospective clients to seminars or other client events too, these will help to further build their interest in your business and their desire to “get on-board”.

The key goal for you here is that when the prospective client is ready to act, that it is your firm that is contacted.

 

Action

And then the prospect contacts you! You’re now faced with the final hurdle of actually getting the prospect to sign up with you as a client. At this stage you need an excellent first meeting process, which should include a really sharp presentation that clearly sets out your proposition and the value that you bring to your clients. Then you have a chance of getting the prospect to move forwards with you!

Of course the “buying cycle” of a financial planner’s client will be different to that of a high street retailer’s customer. However everyone goes through a buying cycle, so hopefully these points will help you to keep prospects moving through your sales funnel.