9 Client Events to Grow Your Financial Advisor Practice

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, informative, or memorable. The end goal is to strengthen client relationships and get them excited to give you more ongoing business and recommend you to their friends and family.

Key Takeaways

  • Keeping clients engaged or prospects excited is one of the most challenging roles of financial advisors to keep their business growing and successful.
  • Traditional marketing techniques and client management programs like sending birthday cards, occasional phone calls, or email reminders can be a good start but it's often not enough to really stand out.
  • Spending time with clients and taking them to well-thought events can be a huge game changer for your business and strengthen client relationships.
  • Most people love food. Consider hosting dinners, wine tasting events, sports outings, or family movie events.
  • Professional events such as seminars, guest speakers, workshops, or charity events are also ways to legitimize your firm and meet new clients.

1. Client Appreciation Dinners

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. The focus of the dinner is not to discuss investing strategies or retirement savings tips; it is meant to build a relationship between you, your client, or prospective clients.

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. Consider basing your appreciation dinner around a holiday for additional food inspiration, and ensure you're aware of food allergies prior to building the menu.

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.

2. Wine-Tasting Events

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. Also, take note of what your client liked or didn't like. If there's a particular vintage or vineyard that appealed to them, consider gifting them a bottle at a future occasion.

3. Estate or Tax Planning Workshops

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. In addition, a well-executed informational session increases the legitimacy of your firm. Instead of only hosting fun events, it's important to demonstrate your competency and the competency of your network.

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.

4. Market-Related or Guest Speaker Workshops

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 unique, helpful event.

5. Painting Events

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.

6. Movie Nights

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.

If a majority of your clients have children, this option may be most suitable. In addition to being able to select a movie that appeals to all ages, your clients won't be required to hire a babysitter for the night as opposed to other options on this list.

7. Sports Clinics

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.

Though attending sporting events can be loud, it can make for a memorable outing. Opt for events with quieter atmospheres and breaks in the action (i.e. baseball over football). This is another great option for families with children as there's entertainment and food for everyone.

Outdoor nature activities such as hiking or fishing are also options depending on your clientele base. Depending on where you live, this might require logistical coordination to pull off. Be aware of the physical limitations and access to required equipment when planning.

8. Personalized Events or Parties

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.

Not every client is as excited to celebrate their birthday, so check with those closest with them about birthday plans. Instead of planning an event, it may be more appropriate for you to attend a previously-planned event hosted by your client's family member.

The personalized event also doesn't need to be a major party. If your client received a promotion, consider taking them out for lunch or drinks to celebrate. If your client achieved an investing milestone, consider giving them a small gift. If you and your client have reached an anniversary milestone with them working with your firm, consider surprising them with a personalized item.

9. Charity Events

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. This demonstrates your willingness to support what they believe in and your attentiveness to what is important in their lives.

How Can I Grow My Financial Advisor Practice?

You can grow your practice by meeting new people or getting referrals from existing clients. By partaking in events or hosting your own, you'll be able to connect with people you've never met before and potentially be introduced to prospective clients by those you already work with.

Are Financial Advisors Allowed to Give Gifts to Their Clients?

Yes, financial advisors are allowed to give gifts to their clients. As a financial planning expert, demonstrate your conservatism by not overdoing an event or gift. In addition, be cognizant of who you give gifts to as there may be limitations placed on other professions (i.e. gifts to lawyers or CPAs).

What Can Financial Advisors Do With Clients?

Once the advisor-client relationship has been established, there's nothing stopped the individuals from becoming life-long friends. Consider meeting your favorite clients at outings, partake in events with their families, and get to know them outside of the office and away from their portfolio.

The Bottom Line

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.

Article Sources
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  1. "2023 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures: Abstract." Alzheimers and Dementia, vol. 19, no. 4, March 2023.

  2. American Bar Association. "Rule 1.8 Conflict of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules - Comment," Select "Gifts to Lawyers."

  3. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. "Background and Basis form Conclusions: New Ethics Rulings Under Rule 102 - Integrity and Objectivity and Rule 101 - Independence."

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