Client events are a proven way for financial advisors to demonstrate appreciation, further develop the client-advisor relationship and increase the chance of being introduced to clients' friends and associates. To be effective, these events need to be fun or informative, and most of all, memorable.
Client Appreciation Dinner
A client dinner is the most basic appreciation event—and the most intimate. Invite a client out to dinner at a restaurant that's suited to their preferences. Extending the invitation to a spouse and another couple is also a non-threatening approach to meeting new prospects.
You can also hold appreciation dinners on a larger scale with all of your clients and prospects in attendance. Rent out a hall and cater an evening meal with drinks and music for an adults-only event, or invite the kids and have a cookout at a local park. Whatever you decide, make it all about how much you appreciate them and not about selling a new offering or trying to talk anyone into additional services.
A wine-tasting event is a spinoff of the client appreciation dinner and can be done with only wine and hors d'oeuvres or with a full-course dinner. Many restaurants offer a wine-tasting package, complete with a sommelier to help host and explain the wine options. For a more expensive option, various wines can be paired with different courses of the meal.
If this type of event goes over well with your clients, offer a few each year and keep it interesting by focusing on different wine types each time: all red wines, all white wines, wines from a certain country or region, etc.
Estate or Tax Planning Workshop
Workshops are a great way to provide value to clients and establish relationships with other professionals. Find a local estate planning attorney or accountant willing to present on a certain topic to clients. Clients benefit because they're learning about a topic for free from a professional that usually charges a fee. The professional benefits from marketing their services to new clients.
If the workshop goes well, your guest speaker may invite you to present at a similar event at their own office.
These events are usually low-cost and can be held in an office conference room. If any of your clients work during the day, consider doing the workshop as a breakfast before the normal workday starts or as a lunch-and-learn event.
Market-Related or Guest Speaker Workshop
Market-related workshops are based on topics that are timely and interesting to clients. They can talk about what has been going on in financial news or about new products.
Market workshops are effective because they help educate clients on the fundamentals of investing and other timely issues. Be careful not to do too much selling at this event. Keep it informational and let your clients approach you if they have an interest in what you've discussed.
Guest speakers are another excellent way to provide value to clients. These speakers can discuss anything interesting and related to a client’s needs. For example, Alzheimer’s disease has been steadily on the rise, and getting an expert to talk to clients on preventative measures could be a helpful and memorable event.
At this type of event, a painting instructor teaches everyone how to paint the same picture. They provide paints, brushes, canvases, and sometimes wine.
Advisors can host a private session with the art instructor and invite several clients. Be sure to include spouses in the invitation—it may give you an opportunity to meet them if they're hesitant to attend financial planning sessions at your office.
Be sure to take a group picture of all the clients holding up their paintings and email it to everyone.
Renting out a movie theater may not be as costly as you think. Ask your local cinema about packages that include the screening, snacks, and drinks. Ask your clients to vote on a movie, or pick a show you think they'd enjoy.
If you don't have enough clients to fill the theater then encourage them to invite friends and relatives. Renting a theater for a premiere is likely more costly, but it would make quite an impression on your clients and prospects.
Sports clinics can be tailored to your clients' hobbies. Golf is usually popular with the retiree clientele, and a golf clinic makes a great event. Hosting it at a local golf course with an instructor would be well-received since golfers are usually looking to improve. Plus, you can open the clinic to members of the golf course in the hopes that they may be looking for a financial advisor.
Client-Specific Event or Party
Client-specific events are tailored around important milestones in a client’s life. Hosting a party in honor of these milestones would greatly increase the client-advisor relationship. For example, if a client is set to retire, the advisor could throw a surprise retirement party and invite the client’s friends and family. This also gives the advisor an opportunity to interact with new prospects.
Hosting a charity event is another great opportunity to invite clients. Inviting your clients to participate in a fundraiser or other event for your favorite charity shows them that you care about matters outside of business.
If a client is actively involved in a charity, offering to help host or attend an event might also improve your relationship.
It's important to remember that these events are about your clients, not you. Base your choices around what your clients would have fun doing or would benefit from the most, and keep the selling to a minimum. Business is built on personal relationships, and it's especially true in financial planning and investment management.