Small acts of kindness that build your advisory business

After nearly 30 years of advising for a fast-growing firm, I long ago learned that one of the very best ways to organically increase assets under management was to treat clients as I would my dearest friends.

That’s because not only is it the right thing to do, but happy, well-cared-for clients are loyal and tend to refer a lot of people.

For those of us who work in a firm whose business model is not based on market timing, but on strong relationships, client service, holistic financial planning and client education, when we recruit advisers, we actively seek out those individuals who are the most adept at forming personal connections and inspiring loyalty.

In short, while our advisers are of course educated, subject matter experts, we like people who care about the well-being of other people.  

And it certainly doesn’t hurt that this is, by extension, cost-effective.

That’s because while the expense of acquiring even a single new client via marketing can cost several thousand dollars, the financial cost of earning a referral is practically nothing. And folks who are referred to our firm tend to become clients at a much higher rate than the hottest marketing-generated leads.

With that in mind, here are a few small acts of kindness that I do that serve our clients and our business well.   

Share information with clients about common interests. I read a lot of news, and I love forwarding random articles about something I may have discussed with the client. For example, one of my clients really loves his vintage Porsche. When I forwarded him a Wall Street Journal article about the newest model, he was genuinely touched that our conversation resonated enough for me to think of him.

Make it a habit to send personal gifts that show you are really listening. Recently a broken-hearted widower was talking about his beloved’s favorite type of rose bush, which he tends to in her honor at the church they both attended. I had her favorite rose bush delivered to him and his heartfelt thank you letter in response is something I will keep forever.

Offer to speak to your clients’ children about money. In this age of delayed launches into adulthood, I have more clients than ever who are worried about their children’s financial education. When I know a client is worried about the spending or saving habits of their children, I immediately offer to meet with them to discuss financial topics ranging from buying a home to investing in a 401(k) or paying off debt.   

Lastly, be there when it’s not expected. A couple of years back, the funeral of a young woman’s husband occurred the day after a family funeral at my house. It was a scorching hot day and I had lots of reasons not to go. But I did. We embraced for a full minute, and I could feel her breath getting deeper each moment she held on.

Two days later, she called to tell me that she had been reminding herself to breathe since our hug, and that it was helping her get through the day.

As advisers, we are exposed to deeply personal information about our clients’ financial lives. Of course we want our businesses to grow. But my experience has been that one of the best ways to achieve that is to take exceptional care of people. Not only will it inspire loyalty, but they’ll recommend their friends and loved ones to you as well.    

[More: Communicating for the good of your clients]

Barbara Healy is an adviser in the Sacramento, California, office of Allworth Financial with 27 years of experience.

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Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.

Andrew Vincent
Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He's also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.
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