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3 Things RIAs Should Do This Year To Improve Client Communication

BY ALLISON LASLEY
Practifi

It’s never been harder to be a service provider. Customer expectations are at all-time highs and alternative options are easy to find. The services that financial advisors provide are no exception. In fact, in the 2024 YCharts Advisor-Client Communication Survey, only 5% of survey respondents were happy with how their advisors connect with them last year. In the same survey, 75% of respondents either switched advisors or contemplated doing so. This is a significant increase from 48% the year prior. Is this increase alarming? We think so. 

RIAs aim to provide exceptional client services because the quality of service can significantly impact a firm’s reputation and its ability to attract and retain clients. Satisfied clients are also more likely to stay with the firm long-term and refer new business. The survey says that 81% of clients would be more willing to refer an advisor who communicates more often or more personally, however, firms are falling short. So, how can RIAs deliver the world-class service that consumers expect?  

To help, we’ve dissected the 2024 YCharts Survey and uncovered three things every RIA should be doing to improve client communication this year. 

1. Use data to provide personalized advice

If you’re sending RMD-related emails to all your clients regardless of their age or communication preferences, don’t expect them to stick around for long! This is just one example of impersonal communication. In today’s world, the importance of personalized communication cannot be understated. The 2024 YCharts Survey found that having a deep understanding of clients and their goals is of paramount importance to overall satisfaction (56%) with portfolio performance just behind (55%). Investors desire human advisors over robo-advisors because of their ability to listen and understand their financial journey. It’s then the advisor’s responsibility to communicate and deliver personalized solutions to help clients reach their goals. 

“56% of respondents said having a deep understanding of clients and their goals is of paramount importance to overall satisfaction”

Delivering personalized advice to an entire client book can be very challenging without the right technology in place. For example, one critical component of an advisor’s tech stack is their CRM. The right one can unify clients’ personal and financial information in one place and provide advisors with a complete view of each client’s unique situation. This includes age, relationships, assets, liabilities, risk tolerance, and more. Industry-specific CRMs are ideal for RIAs because they are built to hold client information and integrate with portfolio management, financial planning, and custodian tools to sync important financial information. As a result, advisors can identify who will immediately benefit from RMD tips, such as retirees, and email these tips specifically to them.  

2. Leverage automation to be proactive, not reactive

Rising inflation and interest rates have hit consumers hard this year, especially those with debt. Keeping an eye on the Federal Reserve and reaching out to clients with debt is a great example of being proactive and showing excellent client care. However, the 2024 YCharts Survey revealed that 67% of clients last year were the ones taking the initiative to reach out to their advisors. At least once every 3 months clients requested information, made changes to their investments, updated their financial plan or sought advice. In addition to personalized advice, customers also expect proactive communication. This is the next big hurdle for many advisory teams. 

“67% of clients indicated that they are the ones taking the initiative to reach out to their advisor every three months”

Providing proactive advice to hundreds of clients isn’t easy. To do this at scale, teams must be empowered by a robust foundation of data and powerful automation. Industry-specific CRMs are great for this as they understand the needs of advisory teams and often have features that help with proactive communication. For example, Practifi notifies advisory teams in advance of upcoming client birthdays, RMDs and when high-value clients haven’t been contacted in 90 days. Going a step further, Practifi can also automate annual reviews and the tasks associated with them, so you spend less headspace on admin and more time preparing for important client meetings. 

3. Commit to a communication cadence

Did you know high-value clients expect more frequent communication from their advisors? The 2024 YCharts Survey found that 47% of clients with over $500K under advice prefer monthly contact with their advisor. These touchpoints don’t just have to be specific to the client either; they can also be opportunities to share valuable knowledge. In fact, an overwhelming 98% of clients expressed interest in receiving their advisor’s perspectives on the market and economy. However, without processes and technology, advisors may have a hard time remembering to contact clients at a specified cadence.  

“47% of clients with over $500K under advice prefer monthly contact with their advisor”

An effective way to do this is to commit to a communication cadence as a firm. Whether it’s every 30, 60 or 90 days, decide how often you want to contact each of your clients. Then, use technology like CRMs to automate reminders and create tasks for your team. Regular communication also helps increase referral likelihood. 85% of high-value clients believe that increased frequency of communication, paired with personalization, could significantly enhance their confidence in their advisor. This is why empowering your team with technology that makes communication easier is so important. 

World class service begins today

It’s no surprise that financial advisors will continue to navigate changing client communication preferences — everything from how clients want to meet, how often they want to be communicated to and in what format. However, amidst these dynamics the primary goal is still to ensure clients feel heard, understood and satisfied with the services they receive.  

The importance of personalized, proactive and regular communication isn’t going away anytime soon. To adapt to changing customer expectations, RIAs should assess if their current technology will enable them to do so. With unified data, powerful automation and client segmentation capabilities, CRMs like Practifi makes it possible to deliver world-class service today. Reach out to a member of our team to learn more. 

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