How’s Your Crystal Ball Working?
Many of us wish we had a crystal ball we could use to provide us with the answers to many of life’s questions. In many respects, our members feel the same way.
Whether they have placed money into a certificate of deposit or into an investment product with the assistance of a financial adviser, they want to know what is going to happen to their hard-earned money. Moreover, getting a monthly statement only goes so far in keeping them informed and up to date about their funds.
The old adage goes in the absence of data, people assume the worst. So, what are you doing to make sure your members have the data? This is especially true given the uncertain economic times we find ourselves in regarding investments.
At Partners, we practice a three-pronged approach that has been a lighthouse for our members during this prolonged economic storm. Contact, commit and continue, or the three Cs, are a focus for us in our wealth management division.
Contact. Today, more than ever, there is a need for regular, relevant communication. We have stepped up our efforts to connect with our existing wealth management clients, both individually and in groups. Individual appointments for portfolio reviews are standard business practice, but we seek additional opportunities to enhance our communication such as lunch and dinner meetings. In these settings, our team can educate larger groups about what is happening in the U.S. and the world that is affecting investments.
We also leverage various electronic methods including regular email updates to contact clients.We have also increased our seminar and workshop schedule this year. As a result, our representatives have touched hundreds of members and prospects over the last twelve months. This strategy has allowed us to cultivate new clients while serving our existing client base and retain and grow our asset base.
Commit to the business. Running a successful program requires commitment in the face of uncertain times. We have decided to increase our staffing to allow our program manager to spend more time with the representatives to work their individual business plans. This has allowed the program manager and representatives to spend an appropriate amount of time reaching out to talk with their clients. As a result, this has kept our high-touch service standards intact and allowed representatives to keep their members abreast of changes in their investment portfolios. Again, lean on your broker dealer or your program provider for ways to add to your staff without adding head count to your books.
Look for ways to outsource the administrative functions so your staff can spend time on the high value priorities. For example, we have recently hired our seminar provider to take all of the inbound calls for registration and to do outbound reminder calls as well. This has been money well spent in allowing our staff to concentrate on the majors of our business plan.
Continue. Cultivate referrals and leverage the relationships of your branch brethren. Contact center staff and encourage them, through incentives if necessary, to listen for cues from members who are unhappy with their portfolios.
- If you are working with a third-party provider (a managed program), they may have resources to help you stay in contact with your investment services members.
- Remember, your branch staff is the best source of qualified referrals. Engage and reward them for their participation.
Bill Partin is senior vice president and chief member services officer at Partners Federal Credit Union in Burbank, Calif.