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Hosting Extraordinary Client Experiences

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A simple blueprint to help achieve amazing outcomes

While the retirement seminar may have served you well in the past, we don’t believe it will help you stand out in the future. To attract, retain and grow your client base you’ll need events that are designed around your clients’ passions.

This paper was written to help you think beyond the seminar. We believe when you engage your clients on a personal level with events focused on their passions, you’ll not only create an event they’ll remember, but one that will grow trust and referrals.

We’re supplementing this with more specific and actionable ideas that will appear as briefs on our website: www.flexshares.com/briefs.

FlexShares is committed to helping advisors create amazing outcomes – from designing unforgettable personalized events, to creating the wow factor through a well-curated and holistic personalized client experience.

Stephanie Treccia, Laura Gregg,
Head of Client Events and Stakeholder Initiatives, Director of Client Development,
FlexShares Exchange Traded Funds FlexShares Exchange Traded Funds

Drop the Microphone Not the Ball
The Ultimate Checklist for Planning Memorable Events

Whether it’s your first event or 1,000th, a checklist is an effective way to make sure you stay on track towards delivering an amazing experience for your guests. We have provided a breakdown of critical event planning details and tasks in the form of a handy list.

Get checklist


Jeff was getting worried—no one was coming to his retirement seminars anymore. Once a self-assured master of client prospecting events, he had chosen investment advisor as a career because he truly liked talking to people about money. Now less and less people seemed interested in joining him for steak dinners or the best tee times at the nearby golf course.

Even in the digital economy, events can still stand as reliable tools for client engagement. In the new era of wealth management, however, many advisors are abandoning the one-size-fits-all events and finding less traditional ways to organize client gatherings that foster robust sales and referrals. Your peers are now creating events that their clients can’t stop talking about.

Setting yourself apart from the competition requires delivering memorable customer experiences, the building blocks of amazing outcomes. You’ll want to go the extra-mile to:

In order to achieve this status, leave the sales pitch for another time. Instead, seize the opportunity to connect with clients and prospects in a relaxed setting that centers around them as guests. Use these engagements to grow your business with a blueprint suited to your firm’s unique offerings and objectives.

FORGING AN EVENT STRATEGY

Know your Clients
Financial advising has always been a client-driven sector. To remain competitive, advisors need to know what personally drives their clients. Lifestyles, commitments to family, career, and community, and, of course, passions are key. Often the best way to establish your credibility as a trusted advisor is to demonstrate that you recognize your clients’ values and what drives them to plan for the future. Focus less, therefore, on AUM and more on understanding clients’ personal motivations. Keep your clients’ needs and desires at the center of your event planning efforts. Look for commonalities—other than simply AUM—among your base to help you design engagements that target personalities or interests. Avoid the temptation to press for new sales or to market new offerings during these events.

Jeff decided to segment his clients according to their passions. Since Jeff creates experiences around these shared passions, he avoids the mistake of focusing events on superficial and sometimes misleading factors such as guest age. For example, he learned that new high-earning millennial parents had more interests in common with their GenX counterparts than they did with other millennials who had inherited most of their wealth and not yet decided to start a family. In seeking to know his clients, he thereby positions himself in the midst of a like-minded network of investors as an attentive and trusted advisor, and moreover, worthy of referrals to friends.

Defining Growth Objectives
Incorporate the client-focused mindset into planning as you organize your actions and resources for the next step: targeting specific growth objectives. Envision what growth should look like for your firm. Whatever your unique growth objectives—new clients, retention, or education—your events should support them.

Do you want to increase AUM with existing clients? Or, are you more keen to pursue new prospects, and if so, must they be similar or different from your current base? Maybe you seek more referrals or would like to better establish your niche (i.e. physicians, lawyers, executive women, etc.).

If your clients are Baby Boomers, you might be thinking about connecting with their potential heirs to ensure generational transfers. Don’t overlook other chances to build upon the strengths of your base, even as you are branching out. Consider focusing on how effectively your firm engages key demographics, such as executive women who have emerged as an increasingly crucial group of wealth accumulators with distinct needs.

You should understand how many new—or newly energized—clients you need to convert to recoup your investment in events over the course of a year.

Jeff had the desire and knowledge to support members of the Sandwich Generation —typically GenXers or Millennials but sometimes younger Boomers. These clients needed resources on managing elder care just as urgently as they needed advice on how to grow wealth for their children’s future. Jeff especially wanted to attract the oldest members of this generation, many of whom had less than 20 years to their planned retirement age and likely needed his distinct approach to financial advising. Jeff further segmented his clients to create a couple groups within that sandwich generation that had commonalities from the industries that employed them to their college alma maters. This commonality made the events more comfortable and also provided networking between his clients and prospects.

Get your budget together
Trusted advisors know that growth requires investment. Allocation of funds for events should reflect growth objectives. You’ll want to respect your budget, of course, but spending a little more on events that engage attendees and inspire them to feel valued may ultimately strengthen relationships and grow assets. You should understand how many new—or newly energized—clients you need to convert to recoup your investment in events over the course of a year.

Remember to optimize all available resources as smartly as possible. Sponsorship dollars from one of your asset management wholesalers could go a long way towards mitigating costs. If utilizing your wholesaler, ensure that person is passion¬ate about you and the event you’re hosting. He or she can help build your credibility as well. If you recently invested in new staff, showcase new team members for clients to see the level of support behind you. This tactic can have a profound impact on growth if your recruiting strategy has been adapted to better reflect your targeted client base.

CREATING A UNIQUE CLIENT EXPERIENCE

Keep the Spotlight on Clients
A number of Jeff’s clients have demanding careers and prefer to unwind in the evenings with family or friends, not attend retirement seminars. In lieu of steak dinners, he now holds educational workshops over bagels and muffins before the normal workday starts or as a lunch-and-learn close to where his clients and prospects work. When Jeff feels the need to connect with clients after work hours, he often organizes events where family or a few friends are welcome to share in a great time. Many clients see their pets as part of their household, too, so sometimes he plans a pet-friendly gathering.

Recognizing and facilitating your clients’ achievements as parents could secure an early advantage in engaging the next generation.

Honor your Guests
Events that acknowledge client achievements are a great way to show you care about their successes. Combine this idea with a family-friendly program and encourage your clients to bring their network. If your clients volunteer for charities, hold an event to appreciate them for the time they donate or organize a group of like-minded clients to join them for a day of volunteerism. If a client is a charity board member, offer other clients the opportunity to meet them over wine and crudite or tea and coffee to learn more about their charity.

Many of your clients will see their families as their greatest accomplishment. Recognizing and facilitating your clients’ achievements as parents could secure an early advantage in engaging the next generation. Offer to help parents identify trusted, ethical resources for planning and financing their children’s education, from pre-school to college. In doing so, you can cement your advisory role as a fiduciary beyond the investment portfolio.

Show expecting and new parents why it’s never too early to start planning for tuition expenses. Hold a college prep Saturday where a college application specialist talks with parents and their rising high schoolers about ethically navigating the college application process. Give an early summer “graduation party” for families of high school graduates to deliver information about managing finances—personal budgeting, student debt, credit cards, etc.—as a college student. Introduce the graduates to younger members of your staff where there may be more affinity and commonality.

Harness the Power of Small
Certain types of events, particularly small ones, are better structured than others to encourage referrals. Intimate settings allow you to prospect without a hard sell and to showcase your authentic self. Your clients and their invitees can get to know you better and vice versa. Experiment with setups that allow for conversation flow and opportunities to showcase you as a trusted authority.

Jeff ran a finance book club which met each quarter at his home. He attended to encourage questions but the newest or younger members of his staff were also on hand to spark meaningful conversations without pressure. Some of his more seasoned firm partners took turns hosting wine tastings or dinners prepared by a local chef in their homes, imparting an air of exclusivity and trust to make invitees feel special.

Small events need not mean confined and passive. For more active clients, consider taking a small to mid-size group for excursions that encourage participants to chat and enjoy community.

Intimate events can yield an additional bonus: You get more opportunities to engage clients and prospects who may otherwise feel intimidated by the complexities of money management.

Build Relationships and Increase Retention with Education
Offering your clients information to better navigate life’s uncertainties could not only impact their finances but also their peace of mind.

As you meet with your clients, assess their knowledge of not just personal finance but also adjacent areas. A free brunch with an estate attorney or tax planner, even if you hire an outside expert, can promote you as a trusted authority. You may be able to get the expert for free since they may see it as an opportunity for them to grow their business, too.

Stay in touch with your clients and if one of your clients is experiencing any of the following, consider reaching out with resources and information tailored to give them peace of mind:

  • Extended illness
  • Loss of salary or other income
  • Divorce
  • Death of spouse or family/household member

Being proactive with your outreach will reveal that you care for them not just as a client but as a person. This will help to build trust and loyalty.

Being proactive with your outreach will reveal that you care for them not just as a client but as a person. This will help to build trust and loyalty.

Jeff saw the toll that eldercare was taking on many of his best clients. As someone wanting to focus on the sandwich generation, he regularly addressed the topic in client meetings of those who had aging parents but hadn’t yet set forth a plan to address their potential needs. He sponsors eldercare events quarterly which helps clients identify the resources they may need to care for their aging parents or other adult dependents. Jeff’s proactive approach built trust and referrals.

Consider developing relationships with community experts in a variety of areas who can explain the financial and logistical aspects of:

Bond with Shared Adventures and Explorations
Identify the clients that are up for an adventure and then consider quarterly events that are out of the ordinary, especially activities that might push someone out of their comfort zone. Figure out a way to tie it to a financial theme. At the start of each event, speak to that theme for the first 5-10 minutes to further establish your investment expertise.

Introducing people to the opportunity to do things they may not otherwise experience can be a big draw and also a chance to build community. Jeff opened a day of hiking with an introduction to ESG investing. Last quarter, he kicked-off an escape room visit with a conversation about the power of risk as an investment tool. And, more recently he began skydiving and scuba lesson meetups with his lively, interactive presentation on weathering market downturns and volatility.

Memorable events don’t need to be extravagant or expensive or James Bond-level exciting. Your events simply need to be engaging and above all, client centered. Mold the full experience around the interests of your guests, paying close attention to the details. Allow your client base and network to be a part of your event planning by asking them to bring a friend or two who they think could benefit from your services.

REMEMBER
Sponsoring a traditional retirement seminar is easy. Creating unique and personal events can be just as easy as well as a more memorable and effective way to grow your business. Unique and passion-focused client events can deepen relationships and ramp up referrals. These gatherings can also better connect you with the next generation of clients who are used to—and often expect—personalized marketing.

Put this to work today

FlexShares is committed to helping advisors create amazing outcomes – from designing unforgettable personalized events, to creating the wow factor through a well curated and holistic personalized client experience. We believe that amazing outcomes can happen when you start with the client, share your authentic self and look to the future for inspiration. We’d love to learn more about you and your business and share more ideas for creative client experiences that your peers are putting into action.

Reach out to your FlexShares business development executive or contact us at 1-855-FLEXETF (1-855-353-9383).


FIND OUT MORE

The FlexShares approach to investing is, first and foremost, investor-centric and goal oriented. We pride ourselves on our commitment to developing products that are designed to meet real-world objectives for both institutional and individual investors. If you would like to discuss the attributes of any of the ETFs discussed in this report in greater depth or find out more about the index methodology behind them please don't hesitate to call us at 1-855-FlexETF (1-855-353-9383).