When investors contact their advisor, they demand answers. Advisors must make certain that all calls, e-mails, texts and social media messages get a response.
But a busy advisor could spend all day responding to individual requests for information, leaving precious little time for extensive meetings with clients (which most clients also want) or for mining new client prospects (which advisors and their providers want).
What is an advisor to do?
The answer is: Have someone else return the phone call, e-mail, text or social media message.
But will your clients appreciate a return response from your administrative assistant?
Most advisors are part of a team working for the same financial provider. The team may include other advisors of the same level of expertise as well as associates who are at a lower level of knowledge and experience. Most big offices also have executive assistants, the official euphemism for what used to be known as a secretary.
The problem with having someone else in your office answer a missive directed at you is that some clients will take offense to being handed off.
There are so many facts advisors need to know about their clients in order to avoid irritating them, but communication specifics are among the most volatile. While there are clients for whom a response from a team member is acceptable, there are those who will only accept communication from their personal financial advisor, and advisors need to know who those persnickety investors are.
Spectrem research provides some clues as to when a team member response might be accepted by a majority of investors. Our new study Communicating with Advisors and Providers specifically asks investors whether they want their advisor to return a call or whether a team member response is adequate in a variety of specific situations.
Of the eight situations suggested in the study, the most obvious case in which a team member response would be accepted was in setting up a meeting with the financial advisor. In that case, 52 percent of investors with a net worth between $100,000 and $25 million (not including the value of their primary residence) would accept a call from a team member.
Going the other direction, 88 percent of investors would demand a call from their advisor when having questions or concerns about specific investments. That make sense as well.
But it is the in-between topics, like directing a purchase or sale or requesting a distribution, that can be challenging for an advisor.
The only way to know when a team member is acceptable is to ask in advance. But even that Is a difficult question to present in conversation with a client.
“When is it OK with you that I am not the one returning your phone call?”
See how that could be misinterpreted as a lack of interest in that investor?
There are solutions to this dilemma. Introducing clients to other advisors or team members can provide a sense of familiarity which can then prevent a misunderstanding regarding communication habits. If a client knows that certain questions, like tax issues, might be answered by someone other than their primary financial advisor, it can make a client feel as if their questions are being taken seriously enough to be handed off to someone who specializes in specific topics.
The same can be said of basic administrative tasks. A client introduced to an administrative assistant becomes aware that the person responding to their request for a distribution knows who they are and plays a vital role in the performance of the firm.
A look at the Spectrem research will indicate which questions most often require a response from the advisor. If one of those questions is one you prefer to hand over to someone else in the firm, let your clients know.
But you need to know which of your clients are the persnickety ones.
©2019 Spectrem Group