Advisor Services

To expand the menu panel use the down arrow key. Use Tab to navigate through submenu items.

Go digital: How advisors can customize and deepen client relationships

Member for

9 months
Submitted by jason.mousseau on Thu, 12/14/2017 - 14:05

Go digital: How advisors can customize and deepen client relationships

See how two advisors use digital tools to educate and connect with clients in a cost-effective and scalable way. Their advice? Don’t let the pursuit of perfection be the enemy of progress.

High-touch service is a big part of what differentiates Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) as compared to other providers serving investors. The challenge is finding ways to deliver this service in a scalable way. In our first article in this tech series, we saw how firms in other industries are using digital tools to creatively and nimbly engage clients.

However, many independent advisors have been hesitant to adopt these new practices. And there are many good reasons—from regulatory and expense concerns to the required in-house expertise. Despite these hurdles, some advisors have begun to blaze a trail, producing engaging and effective content with innovative tools such as social media and videos.

See how two advisors use digital tools to educate and connect with clients in a cost-effective and scalable way. Their advice? Don’t let the pursuit of perfection be the enemy of progress.

High-touch service is a big part of what differentiates Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) as compared to other providers serving investors. The challenge is finding ways to deliver this service in a scalable way. In our first article in this tech series, we saw how firms in other industries are using digital tools to creatively and nimbly engage clients.

However, many independent advisors have been hesitant to adopt these new practices. And there are many good reasons—from regulatory and expense concerns to the required in-house expertise. Despite these hurdles, some advisors have begun to blaze a trail, producing engaging and effective content with innovative tools such as social media and videos.

This new approach is less about creating formal, polished material that has a long shelf life and more about sharing rich, just-in-time information that allows you to connect with clients on a frequent, personal, and informal basis. Leveraging these tools can help you enhance your brand to attract new clients and strengthen existing relationships.

Glassman Wealth Services: Making it personal

If your clients visited your office every week, it would be easy to give them white-glove service. But this is not feasible or realistic.

So how can you leverage technology to affordably engage each one of your clients and provide them with the precise information they need, exactly when they need it, and in the specific format they prefer? Glassman Wealth Services cracked this code through discovery and practice.

"We love to interrupt the pattern. One of the ways we do this is by investing in the right technologies in order to constantly improve our client experience" says Gabe Muller, Glassman's chief operating officer." We've invested in an in-house studio so that we can share information with clients on a very timely and relevant basis. This allows our clients to receive and digest information on their terms – when, where, how and on what device is best for them.

While the firm will often release a quick video or blog post to address topics that are top of mind for clients, it doesn't have to be investment-related to have an impact. In fact, Muller explains that more personal content often gets greater engagement. "One of our most popular pieces is a blog post in which Julia, our director of first impressions, talks about joining Glassman Wealth and describes our culture in her own words," he says. "Clients shared that this piece made them feel connected to our firm and want to do business with us. Imagine the impact if we can do this on an ongoing basis!"

The extremely personalized content is just part of a larger investment in information personalization. Every Glassman client and prospective client has a dedicated online portal where they can access videos, demos, infographics, and other content that is specifically relevant to them. By using a template for these portals, the firm can easily and quickly set up a new one when necessary.

And when it comes to getting clients to engage with the content, Glassman makes sure to let clients know how they'll benefit from it. The firm has found that, for example, an educational video titled "Why Does Using Electronic Authorization Make Sense From a Security Standpoint?" gains considerably more traction than one titled "How to Use Electronic Authorization."

Learn more about Glassman Wealth Services
Watch the video now.

Lessons for your firm

  • Keep it simple, keep it short. No matter how engaging the content is, no client wants to watch feature film–length video content. Try to keep videos under three minutes.
  • Appeal to emotion. It's easier to drive change when you highlight the benefits, so don’t be afraid to tell clients what they'll get out of your content.
  • Start simple. You don't need to invest in complicated or expensive technology to get started. There are several easy-to-use blogging platforms and demo software—such as SnagIt, which Glassman uses—which are affordable and simple to master.

Zuraw Financial Advisors: Playing to your strengths

Technology can help you amplify the areas where you already excel. Just ask Ann Zuraw, the founder of Zuraw Financial Advisors, a small firm that focuses on families, women, and entrepreneurs. "You know, some people are connectors—and I'm a connector," she says. Zuraw has always enjoyed networking, so social networking was an easy extension of her strength. In fact, she built her business on it, cultivating her personal brand and business on social media from her firm's inception in 2005.

Since then, Zuraw has continued to explore many different channels to discover what works best—from different platforms for online videos to blog content to LinkedIn.

"It's my goal to educate families and educate kids and educate women, and technology is what enables me to do it all over the country and the world," Zuraw says. By constantly adapting and trying new online and social channels to reach their clients, Zuraw Financial Advisors embraces a culture of fearlessness and a connection that stems from its founder's own personal strengths.

Learn more about Zuraw Financial Advisors
Watch the video now.

Lessons for your firm

  • Consider your own strengths. For Zuraw, digging into social media was a natural solution. Reflect on your own strengths in technology, and think about how you can translate those to your business.
  • Just get started. It's not about perfection; it's about connection. Don't be afraid to take the first step. If something's not working, you can always change it later.

What's right for your firm?

How can you use the experiences of these RIAs to promote change in your firm? First, start by taking inventory of your own clients. Determine how they prefer to receive information and engage with you. Then take stock of your own strengths and the needs of your business now and in the future. The technology you choose to employ must balance these three aspects.

Five questions to ask yourself

Use these questions to help guide your thinking:

  1. Do I know which information matters most to my clients, or am I assuming?
  2. Are my clients engaging with my content now?
  3. How can I make my client touchpoints more personal?
  4. What are my strengths, and how can technology help me amplify them?
  5. Am I allowing fear to hold me back from trying something new?

We hope these case studies inspire you to start thinking about how you can use technology to reach clients in the ways that best match their needs and your strengths. In an upcoming issue of Advisor Services News, we'll explore how you can leverage technology to create more efficient processes within your firm.

For more insights on technology and a chance to discuss these issues and others with Schwab experts and your peers, you are invited to attend one of our educational events. We offer several online webcasts  throughout the year. And you have an opportunity for in-person networking and education at both our SOLUTIONS® conference and IMPACT®, the largest conference dedicated to RIAs. We encourage you to find an event that fits your schedule and join the conversation.