And if an adviser shares a strong relationship with his client, it can actually buffer poor market performance, she said during a media breakfast with HNW and Ameriprise Financial.
“Relationships are really at the heart of what advisers are enabled to do,” said Kim Sharan, president of financial planning and wealth strategies/chief marketing officer at Ameriprise.
The foundation of trust between the adviser and client lies in transparency, she said. Advisers must simplify information and speak in the client’s language, as well as show that they can identify with the client.
Firms should enable advisers to create a personal, authentic brand that makes clients and prospective clients feel like they know the adviser or share common interests with him. Sharan told a story about a prospective client who used Ameriprise’s adviser search capability and found an adviser with a shared interest in horse rescue, which prompted the prospect to call the adviser.
It’s also important for advisers to personalize the marketing and sales information they send to clients and prospects. According to HNW’s survey of “high-touch” sales professionals (e.g., advisers, relationship managers, agents, client service representatives or other relationship sales professionals), 45% said they currently have the ability to personalize marketing and sales materials for their clients (by name, type of clients or other characteristics). Thirty-one percent of these sales professionals said they don’t have the ability to personalize the marketing materials they send to clients, but would like to.
Companies must foster success by enabling technology that allows advisers to communicate with clients and prospects. Ameriprise provides pre-packaged, compliance-approved marketing materials that are tailored by location, Sharan said. “So what plays in New York City may not necessarily play in St. Louis.”
Ameriprise is also ramping up its social media efforts—Sharan said 70% of its advisers now have access to a basic LinkedIn profile. “In order to move our clients online, we need to move our advisers online,” she said.
This “modernization” of the financial industry is crucial to a company’s success, as Sharan noted that clients and prospects expect the same from financial firms as they do from companies in other industries. Clients want to interact with advisers on their own terms, and they want the entire process to be easy, she concluded.
HNW’s survey was conducted online in April 2013 and polled 205 high-touch sales professionals nationwide.