ACTIONABLE ADVICE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS: Newsletters and Commentaries Focused on Investment Strategy

Three Simple Ways to Ensure Clients Retain Key Messages

June 25th, 2013

by Dan Richards

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Dan Richards

Today’s article outlines why client communication gets derailed – and three success stories from advisors who changed just one thing and saw their message stick with clients as a result.

Advisors often tell me of challenges getting clients to assimilate and retain the key messages about their finances. In part, the difficulty is the constant stream of alarming headlines that throw clients off track.

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But advisors’ mistakes contribute to this. Here’s an email from an advisor in California who speaks to the challenges of getting communication with clients to stick.

I meet with my top clients every 90 days. One of my best clients is someone that I like a lot and enjoy dealing with, but I find it incredibly frustrating that we seem to start every meeting from ground zero. Nothing I’ve said in the last meeting seems to have penetrated; in fact it feels like our previous meetings never happened. Any suggestions on how I can get my client to retain the key messages from our meetings.”

If a client has retained absolutely nothing from your last meeting, there are likely more serious issues at work. Butthere’s no question communication gaps with clients are a common source of frustration. There are two big problems here: what we say compared to what clients hear and what clients hear compared to what they remember.

What we say compared to what clients hear

When meeting with clients, the tendency is to focus on your message – what you say and how you say it. What’s often missed is that what’s important is what clients hear.

Lots of things drive miscommunication:

  • Emotions and fears can get in the way of your audience’s ability to focus on what you say.
  • Clients may be unclear on key points you’re making but too embarrassed to ask for clarification.
  • And sometimes people tune out because you’ve gone on too long. At some point we’ve all listened to a money manager go through a PowerPoint presentation and experienced the MEGO (“my eyes glaze over”) effect.

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