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Why advisers should put time and effort into client events

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Advisers should bring the same outlook to client events that they bring to the rest of their practice: a creative approach that focuses on their own personalities and their clients’ interests.

"It needs to be something that’s authentic to you," says Lisa Kirchenbauer, a CFP and the president of Omega Wealth Management in Arlington, Virginia. "In other words, having dinners at fancy restaurants, if that’s not you or your client base, it doesn’t make any sense because it’s inauthentic."

Kirchenbauer throws an annual summer picnic in her backyard, with a tent and live jazz and barbeque catered by a client.

“People have a great time, and they can bring their family and kids,” she says. “It’s building a following, and I’m excited about that.”

But the gathering is meant to bring people together for fun, not for business.

For business-related issues, Kirchenbauer also hosts a gathering for a yearly investment update. Clients come to the office, her custodian invites a portfolio manager and the discussion is usually about the economy and markets.

“It’s meant to be a little more formal and informative,” Kirchenbauer says, who likes to keep social and business-related events separate.

Event size is also a key consideration for advisers.

“Our most successful client gatherings are those in which we invite a small group of clients sharing the same interests to an interesting and unique event,” says Becky Krieger, a CFP and the managing director of client and community outreach for Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina, Minnesota. “Spending time with a smaller group of clients allows for deeper conversations and allows for a higher amount of quality time spent with each client.”

Krieger also says her firm “strategically sponsors” fundraisers for organizations with which her firm or clients are closely aligned.

They range from breakfast meetings to luncheons to evening black tie galas, and the events are meant both for clients and for others who are close to the groups being honored.

“These events serve as a platform to learn about other organizations, to have fun with our clients in a social setting, and sometimes to serve to be introduced to others in the community,” Krieger says.

Krieger says that her firm has only hosted a handful of larger events, and the key there is to create an environment where clients can participate in discussions, she says.

It is important to keep events to a manageable size, says Kay Lynn Mayhue, a CFP.

“We’ve learned the hard way that events can get too big very quickly,” says Mayhue, president of Botsford Financial Group, which has offices in Atlanta and Frisco, Texas. “When you’re trying to connect with people during a fun or an informative event, it can become very difficult to do with anything larger than 100 attendees.”

Clients agree, Mayhue says.

“Some of their favorite events have actually been with 20 to 30 people, proving they prefer the smaller events, too,” she says.

This story is part of a 30-30 series on strategies to boost your practice.

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