5 ways advisors can cement client relationships with gifts and gratitude
By VictoriaZhuang November 22, 2023 10:00 AM
But many advisors are focused on keeping their largest accounts happy and forget to invest time into expressing thoughtful thankfulness for all their clients around this time of year, according to Jeff Jackel, co-founder of Client Giant.
"The problem in this industry is that people are just too busy to actually keep up with [clients] on a real personal level," Jackel said of financial advisors.
His firm offers corporate gifting services to aid in business retention for firms, and it's seen the fastest growth among financial advisors in the past two years as a customer base, he said. LPLFinancial in June announced that it would offer Client Giant services to all of its advisors.
Systematic gifting to all clients doesn't only help keep their existing assets with an advisor, Jackel said — it can also bring in new assets. Happy clients may refer the advisor to their friends and family, and sometimes they also open up about assets they hadn't disclosed to the advisor in the past.
"These gifts start showing up at people's doorsteps. … And your clients reach out to you. And they say, 'Hey, thank you so much, this is really thoughtful. Thanks for taking care of me.'"
Clients then might continue, Jackel said: "'Hey, I got this money. What do you think I should do with it?' Or, 'I've been looking for a life insurance policy,' or, 'I just had a kid; should I be doing a 529?' There's a million different things. If you get them to reach out to you, you've just solidified the relationship.
Below, Financial Planning shares several ways that advisors have found success in expressing gratitudeto clients around this time of year.
Snuggle with a mug
David "Dave" Demming Sr. said he likes to gift a special branded "Demming coffee cup" to clients of his firm throughout the year. Demming is the founder and president of Demming Financial Services, an RIA based in Aurora, Ohio.
Apart from that, he hosts "a few client select parties," including during summer and Christmastime, Demming said.
"Inservingclientsforoverfourdecades, we get great satisfaction from the transition, from one generation to [in] some cases three other generations," Demming said. "We thank them sincerely for [both] the opportunity to serve and the joy in having those relationships
Tom Balcom, an advisor based in Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida, who is the founder of RIA 1650 Wealth Management, likes to buy Ghirardelli chocolates for his clients. "It's not an inexpensive proposition, but the smile it brings to my clients and their families is well worth the cost."
He typically orders a box that Ghirardelli delivers to the client each holiday season.
"Clients love the chocolate, and I have been informed that some ration the chocolate to last themselves a few months," Balcom said. "Bottles of wine are great as well, but I prefer chocolates, since who doesn't like chocolate?"
Special bonding experiences
For Ryan Salah's firm, holiday-time gifts are about bringing the client closer to an important place or experience.
"Some gift ideas we've used in the past include donating to a client's favorite charity, giving them tickets to their favorite musician or venue if they've mentioned they regularly attend one venue in particular," Salah said. "In addition, tickets to their favorite team works well, too."
Salah is a partner and financial advisor at Capital Financial Partners, an independent wealth management firm in Towson, Maryland that affiliates with Kestra Financial.
"A few people on our team have season tickets to the [Baltimore] Ravens, so that's typically how we would do it for any clients that are Ravens fans. Other than that, we'd just purchase through ticketing sites."
Brandon Dixon-James, a Fresno, California-based advisor who is the president and wealth manager at Resilient Wealth Management, ran a Thanksgiving drive this year and invited clients to donate canned goods or supplies for Thanksgiving for "impoverished communities," he said
"This is the first year we're doing this, and our clients have been more than willing to participate and celebrate the season of gratitude and giving," said Dixon-James, who affiliates with Osaic.
Muffins, hot apple cider and a phone call
Laurie Humphrey, a St. Cloud, Minnesota-based financial advisor at Granite Financial who also affiliates with Osaic, says she enjoys celebrating Thanksgiving with her clients in person each year. "Last week, we held a 'Thankful for You' event to celebrate our clients," she said.
"Fall-themed muffins and hot apple cider provided the opportunity to mingle with our clients. We also included a drawing of two holiday-themed gift baskets for those in attendance. Simple, yet thankful was our intent."
Humphrey added that the day before Thanksgiving each year, she also calls each client "to wish them a happy holiday and let them know they are appreciated."
A gratitude report and handwritten cards
Brenna R. Baucum, the Salem, Oregon-based founder of RIA Collective Wealth Planning, said she writes her clients a "gratitude report" every November.
"The first paragraph is an intentional and specific expression of how much I appreciate their business and trust and how it's an honor I don't take lightly," she said. "The next paragraph highlights the business's donation to an area nonprofit made on our collective behalf. I share a bit about that nonprofit and ways clients can get involved if they're so moved."
This year, Baucum chose to support Salem for Refugees and shared with clients in her letter how they can learn about the group's work to welcome refugees from around the world.
Baucum said this form of thankfulness reflects a quote by John F. Kennedy, who said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
She also hand-writes a personalized note on a card to each client and snail-mails the cards Thanksgiving week. "This beats the holiday card rush and aligns well with the 'attitude of gratitude' surrounding Thanksgiving."