At this time of peak uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make the most of every possible prospect. With markets experiencing huge volatility, many people are in desperate need of financial advice, but may not know where to turn.
If someone who has a genuine need for your services reaches out to you, you will want to be able to reassure them that you are the right person to help them. But how can you ensure that initial expressions of interest are converted into productive long-term relationships? Particularly at a time when building rapport in person is impossible?
Andrew Day, from Depledge Strategic Wealth Management in Manchester, says that it’s a case of building trust and being transparent from the very first communication.
“It’s important to give people as much useful information as possible to inform their decision to work with you,” says Andrew. “We are then confident that when they become clients we will earn that trust through the years to come. So that down the line they will say ‘I’m glad I worked with them, and I’m in a better position net of fees than I would have been without them.”
Andrew’s firm has generated over £10m of business through the VouchedFor website and is one of just 16 firms in the country with Top Rated Firm status thanks to high levels of customer satisfaction. Here are his top tips for ensuring that you make the most of every contact and for convincing people that they should pay for quality advice.
1. GET CERTIFIED
Certifications help build trust, Day says. That means ensuring that external validation of your qualifications and expertise is available to everyone who searches for you online.
“Finding a financial adviser is a bit of a journey for people and there can be mistrust there initially,” he says. “Qualifications and membership of associations can help to give reassurance.”
Depledge has a British Standard certification and is a member of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA). You can see these, along with their other certifications, clearly displayed on their website, which helps build trust with anyone doing their due diligence.
“People know what is involved in getting these accreditations and it does help,” he says.
2. LEVERAGE YOUR HAPPY CUSTOMERS
Day knows that expressions of interest that come via personal recommendations are likely to turn into long-term clients. “When we get referrals from existing clients who are willing to recommend us to families and colleagues we get 100 per cent take up, compared to 40 per cent of prospects from other sources,” he says.
As well as direct referrals, reviews on sites like VouchedFor make a huge difference, he says. “The ‘social proof’ aspect is really important in both encouraging clients to refer friends to us, as they can see it’s not just them who rate us highly, and in encouraging those they refer to become clients.
We went out of our way to get Top Rated Firm status on VouchedFor, which involved inviting reviews from all our advisers’ clients. Our clients gave us a 4.9 out of 5 rating, which was very gratifying as the only people who are really qualified to rate us are our clients. Their reviews are real validation and are very powerful in persuading interested prospects to make contact and ultimately become clients.”
3. GO AT THE CLIENT’S PACE
Not everyone wants to sign on the dotted line immediately, Day says, so don’t pressurise customers and you’re more likely to win their trust. He uses a client journey document to show what the whole process entails and ensure they are entirely happy before asking them to commit.
“Often people are happy to commit in the first meeting but some want to have a second meeting and digest things first,” he says. “It is only through discussion and tapping into our experience that we get to the right conclusion for them. Everyone is looking for something different. All we are ever looking to do is put our best foot forward, saying this is how we do things, this is what we are about, this is what we can do for you, and then the decision is up to them.”
4. USE DETAIL TO DEMONSTRATE VALUE
Persuading prospective clients that financial advice is worth paying for is a key part of winning them over. Particularly at times of economic uncertainty. Day suggests going through the details of the prospective client’s own situation, rather than focusing on the general value of advice.
“Getting into the detail is important as often you can demonstrate the need for advice by looking at what they have in place and things that may have been missed,” he says, citing the example of a recent prospective client who came to him with the details of several pensions. “He was well over the Lifetime Allowance and didn’t even know about it,” Day says. “In that case it was particularly easy to demonstrate the value of advice.”
5. VISIBLY COMPETE ON PRICE
Depledge chooses to be completely transparent about its fees, posting them on the VouchedFor website. Day says keeping costs low is a major draw for customers, and that advisers shouldn’t fear discussing their fees early.“
Of course the key word is value but for many people cost is a big concern, particularly during difficult times” he says.
“We keep costs down, by running an efficient back office and because we are a cautious business. We work with the Sense Network, they have a very high compliance standard, and that means our indemnity insurance hasn’t gone through the roof, which allows us to be competitive.”