October 4, 2011
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An advisor’s call to salvage a client relationship is the subject of today’s article.
In August I wrote that when it comes to hearing from clients, no news is definitely not good news; just because you haven’t heard from clients doesn’t mean they’re not stewing about the impact of market events on their portfolio and wondering why they haven’t heard from you.
Recently, an advisor’s failure to take two minutes out of his day for a critical task made this point painfully clear. This advisor – Mike – read my August article and decided that right after Labor Day he’d begin to systematically touch base with clients, asking if they’d like to meet.
Before he could do that, events intervened and he paid a big price for waiting to make those calls.
The call every advisor dreads
Just before the Labor Day weekend, Mike got a call from a substantial and long-standing client.
“I’m calling to let you know that Susan and I have decided to move our account,” the call began. Not a great start, but it got worse.
“I’m disappointed to hear that” was Mike’s response,“ but I can understand how you’d be unhappy given what’s happened to markets over the last while.”
His client’s answer surprised him:
“Obviously markets have been tough but that’s not really why we’re moving. In early August, Susan and I were talking about the fact that we hadn’t heard from you for a while and were wondering what was going on.
I was going to send you a note but got busy. Then I got a call at work from someone who introduced himself as a financial planner at my bank. He said that he was calling in the event that that I hadn’t heard from my advisor recently and would like to sit down and talk about what’s happening in our portfolio.
We ended up meeting for a coffee and then Susan and I sat down with him. Ultimately, we just decided that we’re not a big enough client to get the kind of attention we’re looking for and we’d be better off working with someone who’d be able to give us more priority.”
Mike apologized for not being in touch and said that in fact this client was on his list to call the following week. He asked for another chance, promising to stick to a schedule of regular meetings. His soon-to-be former client thanked him but said that he had his wife had talked this over and really had made up their minds.
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