Brokers and advisors are on a perpetual lookout for ways to make their clients happy while simultaneously boosting their incomes. In this article, we'll show you some simple tactics to improve the service you provide to your clients, which can increase your referrals and client base, as well as justify increasing your pricing.
Improve Familiarity With Research
A brokerage firm's research arm provides a wide array of information from individual stock recommendations to market forecasts. The analysts in this department have interviewed management and have worked at the ground level of these companies with the goal of providing recommendations that will help to outperform the market.
However, some brokers and advisors don't use this service as much as they should. They sometimes fail to keep up to date with the more recent reports and research notes that might otherwise educate them on attractive investments that can be pitched to clients. Regardless of whether the client decides to follow the research, this is an easy and quick way for advisors to pass on investment ideas and stay in touch with clients.
Having an arsenal of knowledge (about individual equities and the stock market in general) that can be passed on to clients can be a huge value and can help set a sales professional apart from the competition. It is important that brokers and advisors view the research function as an entity that can complement their business and actually help them garner more loyal clients over time.
Attend Sales Meetings
Some brokers will miss or skip sales meetings or conferences because they feel they know it all, or that their time is better off spent marketing. And frankly, sometimes they may be right. However, by and large it does make sense to attend these meetings as frequently as possible because they sometimes offer unique tips for marketing a firm's services.
They are also often a valuable source of information on new products or services, and can help keep the registered representative abreast of new trends at the company or within the industry. Again keeping full of fresh, useful investment and marketing ideas is crucial to adding new clients and to keeping existing ones happy. By extension, this is also one of the keys to expanding your income.
Make a Plan
A broker or advisor's job is to make money for his or her clients. However, it is also to make sure that objectives that were formed at the outset of the relationship are being met and that follow-up planning is completed as well.
Specifically, with regards to follow-up planning, it often makes sense for registered representatives to meet or discuss their goals with their clients at least once per quarter.
A quarterly meeting adds a personal touch to the relationship and can show the client that the rep is being sincere in his or her efforts to service the client. A face-to-face also provides the registered rep with the opportunity to update himself on the client's changing needs and objectives firsthand.
This meeting is a good opportunity to discuss which benchmarks the client's account should be measured against (ie. the S&P 500). It is also a good opportunity to find out if the client has altered his or her investment objectives or if that client's needs have changed. Finally, it is a terrific opportunity to make plans to meet again (to discuss life changes) at some point down the line. (To find out more, see Manage Your Clients' Expectations.)
Earning a solid rate of return for the client over time is a good goal to have, and is certainly part of a registered rep's job. However, the same is true for making sure that a client's more personal objectives (such as setting money aside for a child's college education or increasing income prior to retirement) are being met, and making sure that the rep is up to date on any life-changing events that may alter the client's longer term objectives. Finally, it is important to understand that a quarterly meeting can do wonders for the relationship and, by extension, it can have a positive effect on the broker's gross income. After all, happy clients make the best referrals.
Beware of Time Burglars
Pagers, email accounts, cell phones and land lines are all great technologies to have, especially if you are a sales professional. However, it is also important to realize that these same technologies can also be quite distracting and can interfere with the registered rep's effort to build his or her scope of business. Unnecessary meetings, extended lunches and excessive chatting at the water cooler can also steal valuable minutes from a registered rep's day.
Brokers and advisors should use their time in the office wisely. They shouldn't dawdle or spend time on tasks that won't help them move forward. Instead, they should plan their days (that is, block out time for certain activities such as prospecting, contacting existing clients etc on a calendar or daily planner) and then stick to that plan. This makes the most of your work time and will help you focus your energy on chores that will make both you and your clients wealthier. (To find out how to manage your time wisely, see Making The Most Out Of Your Day.)
Don't Short-Change Yourself
The brokerage business has become extremely competitive in recent years. Increasingly, brokerage firms are advertising their services in a variety of mediums, from highway billboards to the internet. In order to remain competitive, some brokers have resorted to cutting their commission rates, but this isn't always the best option.
In fact, some brokers insist that clients will value a rep's services more when they are charged a higher fee - that is, assuming they are also receiving top-notch service.
Make sure to think twice before trimming commissions as a means of bringing new clients in the door. Instead, consider marketing yourself as an individual who will cater to the client and provide exemplary service, and that your fees are well worth it. If you can show yourself to be worth the cost, your client will likely have little issue paying a little more for your services. (Want to bring in new clients? Check out New Services Usher In New Clients.)
Go the Extra Mile
It's tempting for a broker or advisor to rest on his or her laurels, particularly for those who already have a large base of business. That said, if brokers want to continue to grow their businesses over time, they should try to do something to differentiate themselves from all of the other brokers and advisors out there.
One very simple suggestion is to take note of their clients' birthdays and to call each of them on that day. Another is to send a small token of appreciation (such as a congratulatory card) when the client's child graduates from college, for example. Again, this is the type of personalized service that will help set you apart from the crowd. By extension it may also bring in more referral accounts. (To find out how to increase your clientèle, see Present Your Clients With A Year-End Review and Six Rut-Busting Business Moves For Brokers.)
Easy Can Be the Best Policy
It's natural for brokers and advisors to want to grow their incomes. However, in order to do that they should realize that they must first do what is right and helpful for their clients. When they become proficient with this, the money will come.
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