Finance experts are in high demand this year. 49% of adults in the U.S. said the pandemic made them realize they need help managing their finances, according to an April 2020 survey from Nationwide Financial. What’s more, one in four people are seeking help from a financial advisor for the first time.
Many individuals want help assessing their investment portfolios and retirement funds, while many small businesses are seeking guidance on how to cut expenses, improve cash flow, or apply for emergency funding. As a result, many financial services businesses—including accounting firms, CFPs, and CFO consultants—are seeing an influx of new clients this year. However, not every business will keep those clients. To improve your services and reduce client turnover, you may need to change your approach. Consider the following three strategies:
1. Streamline your workflow
Streamlining your workflow can give you more time to dedicate to your clients.
“Take inventory of your processes and see if you can delegate or automate anything,” said Christina Sjahli, a CPA and the owner of Christina Sjahli Consulting. Sjahli recommended using a cash flow forecasting software, which can help save time and eliminate manual calculation errors.
She also delegates tedious tasks. “I look for repetition. If I delegate repeatable tasks to the bookkeepers, I can focus on analyzing and communicating the story behind the business’s financial numbers.”
If you don’t have a team to delegate to, consider outsourcing. “Hire the marketing company instead of learning to create a marketing plan,” said Tremaine Wills, an investment advisor and the owner of Mind Over Money. “Whenever possible, save yourself time by doing what you do best, and pay everyone else to do the rest.”
2. Improve your communication
One way to increase client satisfaction is to become a proficient, empathetic communicator. “Communication will make or break your business,” Wills said.
In fact, 54% of financial professionals surveyed in the 2020 Natixis Global Survey of Financial Professionals said frequent client communication is a top factor for success. When asked why their past clients left, 60% of survey respondents said it was because they failed to listen to their clients’ needs.
Every client will have different needs and preferences, so it’s a good idea to ask how often they want to hear from you, Wills said, whether it’s on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.
Sjahli likes doing a weekly update with her business clients. She goes over critical points of discussion throughout the week; checks in on milestone progress; discusses next steps and goals; and asks her clients what type of support they need for the coming week.
In every call, email, or Zoom meeting with your clients, aim to listen intently, ask follow-up questions, and speak in a helpful, compassionate tone.
Try taking on the role of a teacher, Wills said; that means over-explaining tricky topics and operating on the assumption that your clients don’t know everything. Especially right now, “Our clients need reassurance that their plans make sense and that we’ll guide them through these trying times,” she said.
3. Offer services and solutions that address your clients’ fears
Improving your services starts with figuring out what your clients need. Before you dive into their taxes or create a plan for their investments, take the time to sit down and discuss your clients’ goals and fears.
Sjahli said many of her business clients are trying to close their cash flow gaps and shift money to their most profitable services or products right now. Others, however, are worried about raising capital or planning for growth during a recession.
As for her clients, Wills said, “Many millennials are struggling with building wealth due to being crippled by student loan debt. And my clients who are parents fear their children may face the same financial obstacles they faced in their early adult years.”
Once you understand your clients’ greatest concerns, you can work on creating a plan or solution that helps address and mitigate their fears. Depending on your business services and clientele, that might mean presenting your client with different investment options every month, introducing them to business bookkeeping software, or generating personalized weekly budget plans.
Another tool to help prepare your clients for difficulty is to do scenario analyses, Sjahli said. That way, “Clients can be proactive instead of reactive when an unexpected event happens.”
Go above and beyond
Going the extra mile for your clients can result in lower client turnover and stronger referrals. Consider what you can offer your clients beyond personalized services. Maybe you can provide on-demand help and guidance, for example, weekly one-on-one check-ins, or free access to budgeting or forecasting software.
If you need financial help to hire extra hands or invest in new technology, consider applying for a Fundbox line of credit.