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How to Build Great Client Relationships as a Wealth Manager

Updated: May 29, 2023

As a wealth manager, you’re a trusted member of your client’s inner circle. You know they rely on your expertise about how to manage their assets, but how do you cultivate the strong relationship that’s necessary to ensure their loyalty? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Remember the key milestones.

Relationships get stronger when you show up for the important moments in your client’s life. You’ll want to recognize their birthday, the anniversary of when you started working together, and any other major personal or professional event, like the birth of a new child or a promotion. If you’re working with a married couple as your clients, acknowledging their wedding anniversary is also a nice touch.

Send gifts that are geared toward their interests, not your brand.

No matter how cool your brand is, no client really wants merchandise emblazoned with a logo. If you’re going to send a gift, make sure it reflects your client’s preferences and the moment: one size does not fit all when you’re trying to build a relationship. Pay close attention to food and alcohol choices, as sending a gift your client can’t use will actually move your relationship backwards.

Handwritten cards are a powerful tool.

You don’t need to make a huge gesture every time you want to acknowledge a moment: the days of the elaborate fruit basket are definitely on their way out. A simple handwritten card is an inexpensive and easy way to build a relationship. Today’s physical mail is dominated by marketing fliers and credit card offers, so an actual card is sure to stand out.

Demonstrate familiarity with their family.

A huge component of wealth management is planning for the future. If you’re clearly thinking about your client’s family, you’re cementing their trust that you have their priorities top of mind. It’s so much more powerful to be able to ask a client how their daughter Rachel is doing with her grad school art program than it is to say, “and how are your kids?”

Be there in the bad times.

If a client loses a loved one or has any kind of rough personal transition, that’s absolutely a time to be there. It doesn’t have to be obtrusive; a flower delivery or even a handwritten card would be perfect. People often forget exactly what you said or did during hard times, but they definitely remember that you were there.

Show up sometimes “just because.”

Don’t assume that you need an occasion to show up. A “just because” touchpoint can be a powerful one, especially if you use it as a moment to demonstrate that you’re paying attention to your client as a person beyond their financial concerns. Did you see a review of a fantastic new Italian restaurant downtown? Forward it to your client who just got back from their honeymoon in Sicily.

Make sure you’re staying within industry restrictions.

FINRA guidance states that gifts to clients should stay in the realm of $100/year. Lots of financial advisors earmark that amount for annual holiday gifts, but remember: that’s the most “crowded” time of year for gift-giving. Your clients will likely be receiving gifts then from all the other professionals they work with, so yours is less likely to stand out. It might make more sense to spread that amount on smaller gifts throughout the year that make more of an impact.

Admittedly, these recommendations do require a lot of organization and time to execute…unless you have Present. Present helps you remember when client milestones are coming up, and then lets you close the loop in under a minute. You can send handwritten cards as easily as sending a text, or send a gift (tailored to your client’s interests). Track your year-to-date spend by client, and set budgets by FINRA standards or your firm’s guidelines.

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