Being a member of the investment community has meant you are involved in a face to face, or ‘contact sport’. My consulting practice benefits when I can get in front of my prospects and clients. That’s not our world today. I am reminded of Martin Sheen’s character, Captain Benjamin Willard, and his angst early on in the movie, Apocalypse Now, “I am here a week now, waiting for a mission. Getting softer. Every minute I stay in this room I get weaker. And every moment Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.”
So, what does a 40-year old war film about moral ambiguity and an obscure reference have to do with strengthening client relationships?
If you can’t meet in person with clients - and that consumes a large part of any advisor’s working day, here are three ways to maximize your time.
1. Master the technology – the promotional tagline for telephone use years ago was that it was ‘the next best thing to being there’. Nowadays, it’s video. If you are not already using Zoom (or Webex, or Teams, or one of a myriad of other services), you need to start now.
And if you are already comfortable with the tech side of things, up your game, especially by holding seminars, or webinars, on current topics. If you host one, here are some tips:
record the session and send it to clients who were unable to attend
employ video and graphics to keep people engaged
have a colleague manage the ‘Chat’ function by answering short questions and navigating comments that pop up so you aren’t interrupted
2. Everyone has a superpower. Mine is acronymed this way: RIMS. Reading is my superpower. In addition to excellent books being written every day about our industry, leadership, technology, culture, and behaviour, there is a plethora of thought leadership usually available at no cost online. Knowledge is power!
Also, reading nowadays is easily extended from sight to sound. Audible versions of books and articles are readily available when you are busy in other ways. Podcasts also work wonderfully and are available on just about any subject.
3. How often do you receive a thank you note from a prospect or client for getting your firm’s quarterly update – for learning you are now underweighting Cyclicals and overweighting Materials by 50 basis points. Not too often is my guess. Employing the TINY approach will help you connect on an individual and personal basis. It also generates feedback. TINY stands for ‘Their Interests Not Yours’. You will also have better client retention if you focus on subjects that are important to them.
If you have a dog owner as a client, send them an entertaining and fascinating Freakonomics podcast on better understanding canine behaviour. If they are working from home, forward a copy of McKinsey’s piece on what is the future of remote work. Does your client have a weekly poker game that intrigues them? Send an adaptation from Wired magazine of Maria Konnikova’s bestseller and excellent read, The Biggest Bluff – or better yet buy them a copy of this bestseller (from a local bookseller, of course). Are they fascinated by chess after watching ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ on Netflix? Let them know about The Perpetual Chess Podcast.*
The better you can prepare for the end of the pandemic and keeping the ship steady until then, the more your practice will benefit when we finally get there. I can guarantee that if you do, you won’t be sweating the details as did Francis Ford Coppola’s, Captain Willard.
*If these suggestions interest you, here are the links to each.
Perpetual Chess (Cognitive Science episode): https://apple.co/2VranQJ