Most financial advisors across Canada have started to work from home – many for the first time – as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While plenty has been written in the past few weeks about how advisors can collaborate with their teams and with clients remotely, there’s far more to online client communications than e-mails and videoconferencing.
Many surveys show that lack of contact is a big reason why clients leave their advisors. But there are various products and tools available that advisors can leverage to maintain communication, inform clients, demonstrate value and stay top of mind.
In fact, a recent report from AdvisorStream shows that investor demand for advisor communication jumped by 47 per cent in March from February, “underscoring the desire for closer advisor-client contact as the COVID-19 pandemic began rolling through the global markets.”
So, where do you start and what tools should you use? That depends on your preferences, gaps in your current communications strategy and your clients’ preferences.
Here are four approaches to consider:
Use of social media has exploded with everyone staying indoors, so if you’re not already communicating with your clients via these platforms, now is a good time to start.
One option is Hootsuite, a social media management platform that allows you to publish posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube – all from one place.
If you’re looking for something designed for advisors that does it all for you, AdvisorStream licenses and compiles paywall-protected articles from the most respected media outlets in the world and allows you to share them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
AdvisorStream will also provide you with a weekly newsletter tagging some of the most compelling stories of the week. It even captures leads the first time someone click on one of your posts and adds them to your newsletter list.
The best part is that you can either manage it yourself or set it to do it all for you automatically.
Newsletters and articles
If you would prefer to put together your own newsletter content, Mailchimp offers free packages that will help you do that in just a few steps.
And if you’ve been thinking of writing your own articles and getting them out to your clients, you can set up your own blog without knowing a line of code. Tools like WordPress, Squarespace and Wix.com can help you put together a beautiful and professional website. You can even link these websites to Mailchimp and have your posts go out to your newsletter list automatically.
If you’re looking for a way to communicate your story visually, consider making your own infographics on Vennage, which provides you with a library of templates and graphics with which to works.
The content doesn’t even have to be yours. Many dealerships, managing general agencies and fund companies are putting out articles, infographics and tools for redistribution under your own brand. But if you’re going to reuse someone else’s content, be sure you have permission to do so.
This medium has become increasingly popular in recent years and has replaced radio for many people. Yet, podcasting can also be a fantastic way to stay in touch with clients.
All it takes to get started is an affordable microphone like the Blue Yeti, your computer and a free digital audio editor and recording application software like Audacity. You can then have your podcast hosted free on Anchor, where it will be broadcast out to the world. Be sure to post it to your website to make it easier to find.
If you really want your podcast get noticed, there are a few things you should do. First, get a logo or cover art. Next, provide notes that summarize the content of your shows and provide a guide as to when specific topics were covered. And if you really want to be searchable on Google, have a full transcription of your episode available.
You can outsource these tasks to countless providers. For example, Podcast Press will clean up your audio, create show notes and take care of everything but the recording.
If you really want to ensure that people consume your content, turn to video. You likely already have one or more quality video cameras in your home. Smartphones and some computers are capable of filming in high-definition or 4K, and there are many easy-to-use apps to edit videos quickly.
If you’re looking for help, Greensboro, N.C.-based Oeschli Institute offers a mobile video and outsourcing solution for advisors that provides you with equipment and scripts. They’ll even edit the video for you.
Once you have the video, you can post it on social media, start your own YouTube channel, or consider a service like BombBomb that allows you to send video e-mails. These services allow you to embed an image in your e-mail that will send the user to the video when it’s clicked on.
I have seen video e-mails used for everything from newsletters, to meeting follow-ups in which advisors recap the meeting they just had with the client and thank them for their business. It adds a far more personal touch than a written e-mail ever could.
If you’re the type of person who gets camera shy, video can still be a compelling way to communicate with clients. Various affordable and easy-to-use software tools enable you to produce animated explainer videos when you go over a concept or presentation.
Jason Pereira is partner and senior financial consultant at Woodgate Financial Inc., a financial planning firm under the IPC Securities Corp. umbrella in Toronto.