Don’t Just Meet With Clients, Entertain Them
In-office meetings are a cornerstone of the advisor-client relationship, but that doesn’t make them the only option. Connecting with clients outside the traditional office setting provides an opportunity to deepen your relationship and get to know a different side of your clients, which in turn may enable you to be of more and better service to them.
Bob Lamse, president of Plano, Texas-based Talis Advisors, which manages $225 million, feels that dining out with clients helps him get to know them much better. In a recent dinner conversation with a client, business hardly came up at all — and that’s a good thing. “People are more comfortable being themselves outside the office environment,” he says. “And the more comfortable they are with you — the more they feel as though you’re trying to connect with them personally — the more confident they’ll be in your ability to meet their broader goals and objectives.”
That said, Lamse thinks it’s important to make sure you have a good sense of what clients want before you start scheduling out-of-office events. “You need to ask them how often they want to meet, and under what circumstances,” he says. Some clients prefer seeing their advisor only once a year in a business setting, while others may be more amenable to other kinds of contact. Keep checking in — perhaps once a year — to see if those preferences have changed.
Guy Baker of Irvine, Calif.-based Wealth Teams Solutions, which manages $200 million, agrees that not all clients want to socialize with their advisor outside of regular business meetings. “Most people I work with are very busy and don’t necessarily have time to fraternize like that,” Baker says. “If we go out to lunch, it’s a business lunch and we talk about business.”
Old Blue Eyes
Still, Baker’s firm hosts several informal social events a year. These get-togethers center on lunch or on an evening wine-and-cheese reception. Baker starts by giving a brief presentation about the current state of the economy. “That way it feels like a productive meeting, not just an occasion for small talk,” he says. Because it’s a subject he spends every day thinking about, preparing his presentation doesn’t take long.
Randy Thurman of Oklahoma City, Okla.-based Retirement Investment Advisors, which manages $500 million, also finds larger group events to be a useful and cost-effective way to entertain clients. But instead of keeping the focus on financial topics, the firm draws in clients by promising a fun time. Every year, his firm puts on a social event featuring an entertainer or speaker whom clients find compelling. In recent years, the events have featured everyone from a comedian focusing on elder issues, to a Frank Sinatra impersonator, to the governor of the state.
“It gives our clients a fun, no-pressure way to meet each other,” says Thurman. Not only do they enjoy the ability to socialize with one another, but there’s also the added benefit of underlining the firm’s prominent role in the community. “When they walk into that room and see a hundred other professionals, it gives them confidence in their work with us,” says Thurman.