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Bring facts and figures home to clients

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When communicating financial information to clients, don’t just spew facts and figures, show them how the information can help them personally.

“Advisers make a living off of discerning what will be the best financial decision for their clients based on what they know about their clients’ lives as well as their financial situations,” says Joe Anthony, president of financial services at Gregory FCA in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. “In order to effectively convey the advice they are giving, advisers have to demonstrate they know the context of the client situation.”

For example, an article or blog post about retiring when interest rates are low should touch on the specific ways that a client might benefit or lose out, using examples like “that fishing boat you always wanted is now within reach because … ” or “for those of you who can’t stomach the twists of the stock market, it might be time to rethink things if you want your retirement investments to last,” Anthony says.

“For an adviser to be successful in earning credibility and sense of thought leadership in their communications, the advice they give has to feel applicable to the client audience they have,” he says. “No amount of data or jargon will help them accomplish that if they don’t relate well to their clients and the situations they are in.”

Catherine Seeber, a CFP and partner at Wescott Financial Advisory Group in Philadelphia, says that she tweaks her style depending on the type of communication, whether it is one-on-one personal communication with clients or communication to a much wider audience of clients and prospects.

Personal communication should start with the why then backed up with facts and figures, while communication to a larger audience should be educational in nature only, she says.

“When the general statement is made, you hope it becomes something in which a client or prospect can feel and relate to it on a personal level,” Seeber says. “That’s when your customized planning takes over.”

Rosa Ybarra, senior financial planner at Tranquility Financial Planning in McAllen, Texas, says that facts and figures can intimidate some clients, so she tries to start any communication with clients as conversationally as possible, using short sentences.

“We want our communication to be relevant, and as such we outline the relevance of our content to their overall financial plan,” she says. “Some articles in the newsletter may not be relevant to every prospects or client, but we still want the content to be useful and be worth sharing with others.”

This story is part of a 30-30 series on smart strategies for RIAs.

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