Client Relationship & Service
60 MIN WEBINAR
1 hr.: CE credit
Webinar on demand: Prospect and grow in a digital world
Wassan Kasey, VP, Advisor Practice Management
Chris Gies, SVP, Director, Advisor Practice Management
Will McKenna: Hello, and welcome to the PracticeLab webinar series. I'm your host, Will McKenna. I want to thank everybody for joining us today; great to have you all on the call. I caught that music that was playing there, really great stuff, and I know we get comments always about, "Hey, what's that funky music playing at the beginning of these?"
One thing you'll find is, on these PracticeLab webinars, our goal is to give you the insights that you can really use in your practice, tools and techniques that are going to help you grow your business. And that's what today's topic is all about, which is how to prospect and grow in a digital world. And we've got just two great speakers with a ton of experience in this area, Wassan Kasey and Chris Gies. Now, they've spent the better part of last year helping advisors like you go from good to great with their digital interactions with their clients and their prospects, and we're really excited to share their best thinking with you today.
Now, before I introduce these guys, I do need to cover a couple housekeeping details and get that out of the way. For those of you who want it, CE credit is available for CFP and CIMA. You should see those instructions on your screen right now, and you will find the CE credit quiz in the additional resources tab, along with the slides from today's event and some other good resources in there. Also, repeat visitors will know, we love getting your questions and your comments. Keep them coming throughout the event. We'll try to answer as many as we can. Just type those questions in the Q and A window. And if you do have any technical problems, let us know in that same Q and A window. So, with that, let me introduce today's speakers, really happy to have these guys.
Wassan Kasey has 17 years of industry experience, has been with Capital Group for the past three years. You know, Wassan started her career as an advisor at Morgan Stanley. That's really important to what we're talking about today. She then went on to Wells Fargo, where she held several roles, including as an advisor and a research analyst. Wassan holds a bachelor's in business from USC out here in California at the Marshall School of Business. She lives in beautiful Pasadena with her husband and son, where she enjoys painting, cooking and traveling. And I'm sure, probably painting and cooking have taken [up] the last year, so, traveling, maybe in the year to come.
Mr. Chris Gies, 37 years of investment and industry experience, been with Capital for the past 17. Chris also started his career as an advisor at E.F. Hutton — that's a blast from the past — which then turned into PaineWebber, and finally UBS PaineWebber. And in that experience, Chris worked his way up from advisor to branch manager to division manager, and finally to head of sales for the Americas at UBS PaineWebber. So, to say that Chris Gies knows your world would be greatly understated. And Chris holds an MBA from Eastern Michigan University, as well as the SFP designation. He lives in Park City, Utah, with his wife and three children. He's an avid golfer and skier. … jealous of where both of you guys live.
Wassan and Chris, welcome to the program. Great to have you. Tons for us to cover today, so I want to go ahead and jump right in. And, guys, why don't we que up this first exhibit? So, Chris, I love the train video. Maybe help us understand: How does that relate to the new reality that we find ourselves in today?
Chris Gies: Yeah. Will, thanks, and thanks to all of you for joining us. The video is actually from a French short-film produced in 1896. It was called, simply, “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat.” And many audiences of that day, Will, had never seen a moving picture before at all before they saw this 50-second film. And, as you can see, you seem to be standing at the edge of the track, and the train's coming at you, and you pretty quickly realize the train isn't stopping or even slowing. And for a lot of audiences in theaters 125 years ago, their reaction was to run or at least jump out of their seats. Now, I know it's a little hard to imagine a movie could produce that level of emotion, so why did it?
Well, those audiences in that day had never seen anything like this before. And the point is, we've never seen anything like the environment we've all experienced over the last year-plus. It would be easy to react the same way the audience of that day did: to freak out. And there are investors who have; we all know at least one. For us as advisors, this environment presents an opportunity. It's an opportunity to take a step ahead of our competitors who've also never seen an environment like this before, but only if we know the best ways to leverage working in this new digital reality.
WM: Love that phrase, working in this digital reality, and I'm going to remember “freak out” as a technical term, Chris, that we use in this business. Thank you for that. But fair to say, Chris, you and Wassan and the team have created a program to do exactly that: to leverage the digital medium. Tell us more about it.
CG: Yeah. Well, today, Will, we're going to first help you position across your digital platforms by differentiating what we call your personal brand. Then, we'll cover strategies to connect digitally with clients and prospects to promote your practice, and then finally, we're going to show you how to set the stage to engage more deeply with clients and prospects during virtual meetings. Bottom line: How you see yourself and how you communicate your value to clients forms the basis for any branding effort. In other words, the way you describe your current practice, why you do what you do, what you do, and whom you serve.
WM: OK, great. So, position, connect, engage. We're going to dig into each of those areas. It's a lot of great stuff to share with you there. Wassan, I want to bring you into the conversation. I know in the prep call, you were telling me you completed about 250 consulting engagements with top advisors in 2020. A lot of those were on this very topic: coaching advisors on how to create that great digital storefront. I know that's your term, and I love that term. Start us out here: Why is that so important?
Wassan Kasey: Oh, gosh. Thanks, Will. And first, happy to be here, really excited for this session. Hope you're all are strapped in for our journey. But when you think about the environment that we're in, the reality that we're in, just like Chris said, it's pretty unprecedented. And this really is our time to practice, speak on mute, have the camera at the wrong angle, maybe not have the appropriate light. People are really, really forgiving right now, and by people, I mean our clients. And in the future, however, this is going to be an expectation, us connecting with them digitally, whether it's via video, via webinar, like I'm connecting with everybody now. … on the website, LinkedIn, all the different aspects of your digital storefront, like Will mentioned. It becomes really important that there is a seamless experience.
So, there's three things that I usually ask advisors to write down, and the questions are: Is my brand and everything on my digital storefront memorable? Is it relevant to what's happening now? And is it aligned with the way that clients see me and experience me? So, in other words, is there a human aspect to it? And I know we're going to, [flesh] that out a little bit more in a little bit, but those are really the three things that I start off with, Will, when I'm talking to advisors. Is it memorable? Is it relevant? Is it aligned with how people are seeing you and experiencing you? And let's face it, I mean, we're all being Googled. I get a notice from LinkedIn every week, up to 100 people are Googling me. I have no idea who they are, but they're doing it. And rest assured, that's happening to everybody on this call as well.
WM: That's a great point. We're all being Googled, so the way you show up needs to really reflect what you stand for and your practice. You know, Wassan, I've heard you say that it's important for all those digital elements to have some consistency, but necessarily [not] to be all exactly the same. And I think that's a really critical nuance that we can help our audience with today. Tell us more about that.
WK: Absolutely. So, when you think about your digital storefront, there's actually nine components, and we're going to show them up on the screen in a little bit. But there's so many different ways that people are experiencing us. You have at the basis, it's our email, so that's the basic component of our digital storefront, and then you start building on top of that. It's your bio, your website, your LinkedIn account (if you have one), the newsletters that you send out on a monthly or a quarterly basis, or weekly for some of you. It's also the financial planning software, the way that people are experiencing it. Some people have it so that their clients can access it online, others, it's through a report that shoots out. That's another component.
Other components are obviously videoconferencing, any surveys that are being put out, and any content that we are aligning to the passions and interests of our clients. So, when you think about all those components, there's no feasible way for them to be exactly the same, but they should absolutely rhyme, right? When somebody visits our website, there should be some sort of connectivity between the website and our LinkedIn, and that usually pops up in the pictures that we have on there, maybe some of the language that we've used to describe ourselves and our practice. The experience that people have from the email and the newsletter, even though it's different — the signature line, the byline — all of those things should rhyme with one another. So, when you're thinking about really building out that digital storefront, think about how is everybody experiencing me? And how are they experiencing the way that I'm connecting with them?
The more streamlined it is, the better that experience is going to be for everyone. So, Will, I hope that answered your question. Happy to elaborate if you need me to.
WM: No, that's great, and I'd love to engage the audience right here and ask for a little audience participation. You know, in the comments section, let us know how it's going with your own, as Wassan characterizes it, your own digital storefront. How do you feel you're set up today? What areas do you feel you could most improve? What are you looking to work on in the next, you know, six, 12, 18 months? Put your comments in the comment box and we'll draw those in as we get going.
So, Wassan, let's dig a little deeper into the “how” part of this. So, how can advisors craft their brand's story? You know, I'm sitting out here in Hollywood, what steps can advisors take to tap into their inner screenwriter?
WK: Oh, gosh. This is honestly my favorite, you know. When we think about the brand's story, it's so much more than just a value proposition. It's so much more than a statement. This is really, like I've been saying, the experience that people have of us. And the first step in creating that brand's story is to really think about our bios. So, for instance, when you think about the bio on your website or on your LinkedIn, ask yourself, is it a regurgitation of my resume, or is it a representation of my brand's story? And that's a really important question to ask, because our suggestion would be that everything that you put out should be a representation of your brand's story. So, how do I do that? How do I humanize myself? How do I create that brand story? When you think about all the great stories in the world, they usually have a beginning, a middle and an end.
And when you dive deeper into them, they usually have a hero, a villain and then some sort of obstacle that the hero has to overcome, and they typically rely on a guide to help them overcome it. So, these are the components of every great story in the world, and every time I introduce this subject, you know, it can be pretty overwhelming, because this is us having to flex our soft skills. It's us having to rethink the way that we've been brought up in this industry. You just heard Will talk about my bio. He did bring in some of the cooking and painting, but for the most part, my bio, I'm guilty, it's a regurgitation of my resume. Now, when I think about advisors, and I work with advisors one-on-one, it's really easy to identify who their hero and their villain is. So, I'm going to give you some pointers on that.
Grab your pen and your paper, or pull up a Word document, whatever your flavor is. When you think about the hero of your story, these are the people that you love working with. These are your best clients, the ones that are most engaged in your practice. Describe them. How do they see themselves? Are they family-oriented, are they business owners, are they philanthropically inclined, are they committed to their community, to their loved ones, et cetera?
I will give you this kind of, pointer, right? Nobody describes themself as a pre-retiree or high net worth individual. In fact, there has been a lot of research that shows there's a disconnect between how people see themselves and the description that we put out on who they are. So, describing them in human terms, as they see themselves, that'll really help bring your hero to light.
The second component is the villain. And the villain is really easy. So, I'm going to ask you to think back on each of your careers and walk back in reverse on a timeline with me. So, the biggest villain that we have now is COVID. This last year, it has absolutely been a villain for all of us. It's unprecedented, it's unpredictable. You've had to help guide your clients and their behavior through some really uncertain times. So, you've actually coached them through one of the biggest villains we've seen in modern history.
If you have been in the industry even longer, than the financial crisis of 2008 is another one of your villains. If you remember back then, we would wake up in the morning and we had no idea if the market was going to go down or fluctuate, in incredible nature. So, that's something to think through as being one of your villains.
And for those of us who've been in the industry even longer than that, the tech bubble is another villain. And, of course, people who were in the industry in the 80s, Black Monday is another villain. And, of course, we have smaller villains as well. So those are villains, like, our clients not knowing if they're going to outlive their assets.
Once you compile those villains, you'll have a really good depiction of all the areas that you've helped navigate your clients through. And that brings me to you, and your role is the guide. So as the guide, if you think about “Star Wars,” for instance, Luke Skywalker was really the hero, right? He had to overcome Darth Vader. But who did he rely on? He relied on Yoda, and you're the Yoda of this story. So, this is where your expertise, your perspective, the coaching that you've employed throughout your career, the ways that you've helped your clients overcome these obstacles, this is when it comes into play. So, if you put a little bit of that creative juice that everybody on this call has into work, you'll start to really create that brand story.
Everything that I shared is, like I said, it's very heavy on the soft skills. So, I want to show you a couple of examples from advisors that we worked with in the last year and how they've represented their brand story. So, forgive me, I'm not going to look on the camera anymore. I'm actually going to read from the screen so that you can read along with me.
This is from an advisor out here. And he said, "I'm involved with NASCAR. I love racing and have been doing it with my family my entire life. The best drivers in the world can't see everything from their viewpoint, they have blind spots. The solution, spotters. Spotters watch what the pros can't see. I'm also a spotter for my clients. My role is to see the unseen, whether on the track or in the financial markets.”
I understand that not all of us are going to have an interest in NASCAR or a connectivity to it, but my gosh, what a great and memorable way to bring your passion to life and align it with the way that we service clients. So, to the extent that you have something in your life that's aligned in this way, an analogy that you can bring to light, we would encourage you to use it.
For others of us there's another example that I can share on the screen. And it's more meaningful to the human experience. And what I mean by that is, when we think about the nature of our business, it's very human-centric, it's relationship-driven. People trust us implicitly; they trust our decision-making.
And I love this excerpt from this advisor, because it brings that to light in such a succinct and powerful way. And he says, "His philosophy is that retirement isn't a winding down, but a new beginning. It's a second chance for his clients to fulfill their life's purpose."
The language that this advisor has used is so impactful from a human perspective, right? He uses language like “life's purpose,” “new beginning.” This really helps bring to life some of the ideas of what people want out of their journey, through retirement, really.
So, Will, I hope ... You know, that was quite a long answer, but I hope that that was helpful for everybody.
WM: I thought that was outstanding. And I hope you in the audience found that really [valuable] — that depth and value that Chris and Wassan has put together in this program.
While I was scribbling notes here, let me see if I got this right. So, first of all, I love this. Focus on storytelling versus regurgitating your resume. Boy do I need to take your advice, because my LinkedIn profile is just ... it looks like a resume.
And let me see I've tracked this correctly. So, for all of you in the audience, your clients are Luke Skywalker. They're the heroes, your clients that you're helping. You all are Yoda. I hope you're okay with that. Yoda is very wise, very ... And he lives forever, so what could be bad about that.
And maybe the villain, the Darth Vader, in the story are things like market volatility or other obstacles on their path. But great stuff about storytelling.
I want to turn to, first of all thank our audience for ... Boy, they started to put in some great comments on my earlier request about how are they doing with their digital storefront. Let me just read a few of these out.
This person said, "I could improve on video. I don't have any at the moment." One admitted, "Look, where should I start? I don't yet have a digital storefront." Another said, "Unfortunately I'm just getting started." Here's one that says, "We're looking to increase contact creations, vlog and blog." … "Use LinkedIn better." … "Surveys." "I believe I could sharpen my LinkedIn." And "We need to get a better camera," et cetera, et cetera.
And, a lot of great stuff here. But it sounds like people are at different levels of their own evolution, and this may be helpful for them. … "Plan to add short video clips addressing current topics, giving prospects the ability to see how we present ourselves." Great stuff in here. Thank you for all that engagement.
You know, Chris, I want to pull you back in because I think the good news, generally, is that, you know, clients are satisfied with their advisor. But just plain old satisfaction isn't enough, isn't it? Isn't there something beyond that, in which it's, sort of, this level of true engagement. Talk about that. Why is that level of engagement, that engagement factor so important for advisors?
CG: Yeah, Will, the data on the next slide here is really drawn from studies designed to do exactly that. In fact, from two studies it's done of investors in three countries: the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. And it classified investors into four categories: disgruntled investors, complacent, content investors and engaged investors.
And we would, sort of, for the purposes of our conversation and this slide, say complacent and content clients were satisfied. Surprisingly, as an aside, the disgruntled clients were actually still working with their advisor, which is a little counterintuitive to me.
But the key here is that only one group provided any referrals. Only the engaged clients provided a referral. And interestingly, almost all (95%) of those clients who were engaged did provide a referral. That's why creating and identifying clients, Will, who are truly engaged is so important.
To the point of our conversation today, Wass and I often hear advisors ask if they can create this kind of engagement in a virtual world. And the answer is absolutely yes. The idea is to create a digital network to accomplish what we've traditionally done face-to-face. And while that sounds difficult, it's not as difficult as it sounds.
We have an entire coaching module that's dedicated to delivering this, sort of, priceless value that's designed to create, Will, this level of engagement. And with it, we can help you learn to do it really successfully.
WM: That's fantastic. And, this will be the first of many times that I say to all of you in the audience, you really need to reach out to your Capital Group team to find out the resources that we can bring to you to help you in your practice. Chris just mentioned one. I'll return to that again.
I just want to read one more great comment here that came in when you were speaking. This came from an advisor. "Uh, I love the blind spot comment in the example, Wassan. I'd say it helps you avoid landmines and keep you from running the ship on the rocks." Another great metaphor, "Retirement is not a wall you run into; it's a doorway you pass through."
Very cool. Thank you for that.
Chris, speaking of surveys ... Look, that's a ham-handed segue. I'm sorry, but I'm going to use it anyway. Speaking of surveys that you reference, let's talk about Capital Group's recent advisor benchmarking survey. They covered a lot of these topics that we're talking about today, whether it's digital marketing and things around that. It's specifically showing highest growth practices have greater confidence in their marketing skills. Tell us more about that.
CG: Yeah, Will, that's right. Our work shows that the highest growth advisors had higher confidence in their marketing and digital presence. They believed they had a distinctive brand identity, back to Wass' points, and as a result, they had more confidence and more success around one of the key issues we all face in our practices: client acquisition.
In fact, those same high-growth practices leveraged tools like digital marketing at three times the rate of their competitors, their other advisor competitors. These practices are getting a lot more referrals using these digital tools, and it makes sense. There's a limit to referrals if you rely only on your in-person reactions.
And one of the silver linings of this crazy COVID reality that we've been working our way through is that we've learned digital marketing can help you scale yourself. At the end of the day, more confidence means more marketing activity. And more marketing activity, if done right, translates, Will, to a lot higher growth.
WM: That's great, Chris. And one of our first asks today, and we'll return to this later, I said, after this event, you go to practicelab.com and download this advisor benchmark study, and I think you're going to get a lot out of it.
And, Sam, let me ask you to begin teeing up our first poll, because we want the audience to engage in a quick question here. And this is something that very much relates to what we've been talking about. And we want to understand, for you in the audience, what's your marketing confidence level today? So, Sam, if you wouldn't mind, can you, can you launch that poll for the audience?
And, you could, you guys can see there. The question is, "What's your marketing confidence level?" The four answers are, "I'm an expert, I'm pretty good, I've dabbled, but I'm a novice, and, D, I’m just getting started."
And, thank you, we've got a good number of responses. It seems, like, so far, many of you are either in the pretty good camp or the dabbled, I've dabbled but am a novice. Very few of you ... Maybe, or you don't give yourself enough credit, but only a couple of percent are saying you're an expert. Most of you are in those two middle camps.
So, that's great context. Thank you for that interaction. Wassan, you know, we were talking about this earlier. And most advisors have clients in their book of business who are real fans, raving fans of their service. I know you've got a great thought about how to get more out of that. How can advisors cultivate and leverage that fan base?
WK: Yeah, thanks, Will. I ... You know, I affectionately call them brand ambassadors, right? When you think about those advocates, these raving fans, the people that love working with you and you love working with them, they almost can't help themselves when they refer to you. It's because they feel so strongly that you are not just a great advisor, but you're just somebody that others have to meet.
And the concept of the brand ambassador isn't new by any means to our world, but it is relatively new to our industry. And when we think about brand ambassadors, what they thrive on is this concept of social currency. So, here on the screen you'll see just, kind of, a three-step process, and I'll walk you through it, on how to identify these brand ambassadors. But just know that they're running off of a fuel, and that fuel is social currency, and I'll give you an example of what that means.
So let's say Will and I live in the same city. I think, you know, we're neighbors most of the year. But let's say I run into him and, you know, we're catching up. And I say, "Oh my gosh, Will, John, my husband and I, just went to this amazing restaurant, and have you been? It's actually, around the corner from here." And Will will say, "No, I haven't been." And I'll say, "Oh, gosh. I mean the ambience was amazing, the food was so delicious, the wine was just spectacular, the server treated us as if she's known us forever. They even sent us a free dessert at the end, and you know how much I love dessert. So, it was just such a great time. I think you and your wife would really love it if you go."
And we end the conversation. We go about our ways. And a couple of weeks later, Will takes his wife, and a few weeks after that [he] and I catch up again, and what's one of the first things he's going to tell to me? He's going to tell me about what a great time he had at that restaurant. And there's a beauty that happens in that transaction. The first is, my reputation as being somebody who has pretty good taste, I might say, (laughs) is upheld, right? I mean people will say, "Oh, great, Wassan has great taste. She sent me to this place. It was awesome."
The other thing that happens for me, selfishly, is that I have now helped one of my good friends have a really great experience, and a fulfilled one. For the restaurant, they gain a new client or a customer, and for Will and his wife, they had a great experience. The beauty of this transaction is that the restaurant never once asked me to refer. They never specifically said, "Hey, Wassan, do you know anybody else who would enjoy a meal at our venue?" Instead, what they did was they gave me such a great experience that I couldn't help myself but tell my friend about it.
And, so, there is that, sort of, scenario playing out for each of you as well. And if I asked you to name your best clients, I know within a millisecond you'd be able to give those names to me. So, the first criteria in finding out who your brand ambassador is, is to really think about who are those people that I love working with. And from that bucket, who has actually given me a referral in the last three years? And, ideally, multiple referrals to Chris's point earlier.
The second consideration is are they well connected in their community, with their friends, their colleagues, et cetera. Do they have some sort of presence socially? And then, of course, the third thing is, are they somebody who others listen to? If the answers to all of these considerations is yes, then you have yourself a brand ambassador.
And there's a variety of ways to engage them more meaningfully. But one of the ways is absolutely to connect with them on a more human level. Get to know them better, their families, et cetera. And I'm happy to elaborate on that, Will, if you need me to, but I want to hand it back to you.
WM: No, that's outstanding. First of all, I'm getting hungry Wassan.
WM: I gotta say, it's almost lunchtime.
WK: I mean it's almost lunchtime. (laughs)
WM: Show of hands in the audience, how many of you are hungry out there? I guess I can't see you. I wish we could.
You know, I recently got a referral for a great place here in Larchmont, great pizza place. And I, admittedly, I got one of those Hawaiian pizzas with the pineapple on it and I, you know, I think I'm dreaming about vacation, like many of us probably are. But anyway, that's a great …
WK: Will, you're speaking my language. (laughs)
WM: ... that's a great ... I know you love cooking. That's great ... A couple things I picked up on there in terms of ... The social currency idea is a powerful thing. And people get excited to share that, right? It's really, they want to do it. Your point is so well taken. That restaurant never asked for that referral; they didn't have to. They tapped into that social currency and the great experience they were providing.
You talked about some of the criteria for how to find these people. So, once you find them, now what? How do you, kind of, deploy them. How do you encourage them even further?
WK: Sure. So, there's a few things that you can do. Obviously the first ... If you haven't already done this, connect with them on social media, whether you use Facebook, you use LinkedIn, all of the above. That's kind of a no-brainer. Connect with them on social media. Make sure that they are in your circle.
Check with your compliance. But for a lot of you, you're probably going to be able to hit “like” on some of their posts, because they're not aligned to the financial services industry. But, again, double-check with your compliance. Make sure that that's an OK thing to do. You might even be able to start commenting on their posts once in a while. So, that's kind of the lay of the land.
The other thing that you're going to want to do is engage them in different events, and I know we'll talk about that in a little bit. But, I will give you one idea that is really actionable that you can put into play right away. There are tools on the internet that are web aggregator tools, and I'll give you a couple of examples. Feedly.com is one; Google Alerts is another. There is a lot of other web aggregator tools that are out there as well.
One of the ways that we can engage people on a more meaningful level is to hit them where their passions lie. And their passions, quite frankly, don't lie within their financial plan. They might lie, like Chris, on the golf course or on the slopes. They might lie, like me, with cooking or painting. There is a variety of passions that people have. And to the extent that you're able to connect with people and engage them in those passions, it can be pretty powerful.
So these web aggregator tools, what you can do is create filters that are aligned with the passions of your client. So, you can have a golf filter, a skiing filter, a cooking filter, boating, you name it. Italian wine, et cetera. And what you can do is log into this system once every three to six weeks and think of one of the brand ambassadors that you want to connect with.
Let's say they like golf. Go into your golf filter, select a video, a podcast, an article, a blog, copy the link, put it in an email, send it to this brand ambassador, and say, "Hey, Chris, saw this great article, thought of you. Hope the course is treating you well."
And the beauty of that transaction is, again, you, it has nothing to do with our industry, but everything to do with the passion of the person on the other end, and that connects from a digital standpoint, a more meaningful connection.
Of course, the added benefit is if they forward it on to their network, and your name is at the bottom of that email. But at the very least, it's going to make the person feel seen, and heard, and more connected to you. So, those are just a couple of things, Will, that people can do to engage their brand ambassadors even further.
WM: That's dynamite, Wassan, and I'm seeing our comments section light up. Here's what I took away. Use some of these content aggregators, whether it's Feedly or others. What ... somebody asked here, can you please repeat those that you mentioned, Feedly and, go ahead, Wassan.
WK: Sure, yeah, Feedly.com and Google Alerts is another one.
WK: So, pick your flavor, whichever one you think is best suited for you.
WM: And there are a lot out there. This doesn't represent an endorsement. But the point-
WM: ... being, there are some great services out there that you can use that are aligned, as you said, with the passions of your clients, that allow you to touch them that aren't in their ... don't have anything to do with their financial plans.
Well said. And guys, you know, so I hope you ... This is gold, I think, outstanding. And I do want to look back in the comments section here. A few people said, "Yes, I'm hungry. I'm ready for lunch."
And then one, this person must be local to where I am. "Stick with Larchmont Wine and Cheese." Yes-
WM: ... one of my favorite ... right? You know it, Wassan, Larchmont-
WK: Oh, yeah.
WM: ... Wine and Cheese. That number four sandwich, come on.
WM: In fact, maybe that's where I'll go this afternoon.
WM: One thing I was going to say, and if we can throw on the screen, you wanted to talk about social media and the fact that you touched on this. But, obviously, everybody has to work within the guidelines of their firm's compliance on this. But how should our audience be thinking about using social media platforms?
WK: Yeah, I mean, you know, there's so many things that you can do, right? Number one is start posting. If you haven't already posted, go ahead and start posting, and the ideal number is three times a week. Each of your firms probably has preapproved content. Obviously, leverage that. And what I usually do is the Friday of every week I'll just log into my LinkedIn, I'll schedule three posts for the following week, and it's done within five minutes, so that's number one.
Number two, when you're connected digitally with your clients, like I said, like their posts, et cetera. There might be even be an opportunity for you to make a comment here and there. Let's say they post something about a trip that they took, a new home that they purchased, a retirement that they're transitioning into. Let's not forget that you had a role in each of those successes. Without your guidance, they probably wouldn't achieve those goals.
WK: So, let's say you have a client who is recently retired, you can say something along the lines of, "Congratulations on this new chapter in your life. Looking forward to working together more closely," something, like-
WK: ... that.
And so there's a variety of ways. With LinkedIn, by the way, always write it in the first person. That's one last tip that I'll give. Uh-
WM: A great one.
WK: ... it's your personal page, so. (laughs)
WM: Excellent stuff. And, uh, again, Feedly, for those of you who are interested. But fair to say there are many of these things out here — Google Alerts. If you think about your clients, what their interests are, skiing ... We've talked about skiing, golf, cooking, sports. You know, you can set up your Google Alerts to provide interesting links that you might want to forward to clients.
I do want to mention to the audience, and I think we have a couple of slides here, that there's a great article on PracticeLab, and we'll talk about this again as well, that debunks some of the myths around social media. Um, debunks. Yeah, is there no greater word than debunks? Debunk some of the myths around social media, gives you some useful tips about how to engage with different platforms. I'm going to suggest you go after this event to practicelab.com and check that out. There's some useful stuff there.
Chris, I want to bring you back into the conversation, because I think of you as truly a master of leading virtual events. You've got a lot of experience with this. Obviously, virtual events, some are better than others. We hope, for our audience’s sake, that this one's pretty good. Obviously, we're all excited for face-to-face meetings to come back.
But, you know, frankly, look, clients are now used to virtual meetings and probably expect and prefer in some cases the flexibility of meeting that way. Of course, you've got to do them well. So, how should advisors be thinking about improving their virtual events, taking them to that next level?
CG: Yeah, Will, I'll give you a couple of ideas, thank you. One of the best practices we've seen from top advisors, I'd label as mini-webinars, and they can be as simple as a 15-minute coffee break held at regular intervals. I'll give you a couple of ideas to do it, a couple of guidelines around how you can build one.
Start by calling your mini-webinar “Coffee with Chris Gies.” Well, you'll call it coffee with your name; you get the idea. But create the webinar in three parts. Part one, market perspective. And you can certainly draw on your firm's research, and your firm's insights, or you can leverage ours: Capital Group's thought leadership to discuss key points. It's really easy to find. You can access ours from capitalgroup.com, and go to the “Insights and Practice Management” tab, and then “Capital Ideas,” which is right next to PracticeLab. You mention it. There's a ton of great economic, political, and market research. Part two, is find a cool trend or a tool to talk about. If you need ideas, just think, what are you and your clients passionate about? I love big mountains, skiing, golf, exercise, hiking, really anything outdoors, but when I manage the practice, my clients liked a lot of that, too, but I also had clients who love racing, cooking, dance, not necessarily my cup of tea, but all would've made great topics for this type of event. Hopefully you get the idea.
Part three, the Q&A, open the floor for discussion and surprisingly, this is likely the best part. It's the part where you get them talking. You need to have two or three questions in your back pocket to kind of get this conversation going, but the advisors who've done it tell us that's about all it takes to get some really great interaction going. And you can also do a longer version by inviting clients to an event with a guest speaker, and that could be one of your centers of influence, the traditional accountant or tax attorney, but it could also be an expert in an area like wine, cars, boating, philanthropy, or some other interest that you and your clients share. And that might be a 30- to 40-minute event that maybe you run less frequently because it runs longer, but the process you follow, that three-step process we just talked about, is exactly the same.
Just think about what this could mean to your relationship, not only with your clients but also with whomever you tee up as your guest speaker. You get a double bonus for doing these guest speaker events. Your clients love it, and as a result, they feel even better about you. But the guest speaker also benefits from it, and you build your relationship with them. You're literally building relationships in two places. Final note, Will, in this area, be sure to invite and encourage clients to forward your invitation to their friends. It's another silver lining to working in this crazy digital reality. It's so easy to forward an invitation, and clients can send it to friends anywhere. They don't have to be in this city. They don't even have to be in the same state.
WM: I love that, Chris. That's great, and I think that you've covered so many key points here. The interaction component is often the most valuable. Really make sure you build that in: the idea of a guest speaker. I bet a lot of advisors have in their book of business people who do really interesting things, run really interesting businesses, have interesting careers, or something where they might even be ... You don't need to necessarily get a world-famous person. They may have great people right in their book of business. And then your point about the scale of these virtual events. You can just forward these and invite as many folks as you want, without necessarily fitting them into the, you know, the conference room at the local Marriott or whatever.
I want to come back to our audience and ask you all again for some participation. What kind, and write this in the comments, what kind of virtual events are you doing now and what are you thinking about doing? What would you like to try to do that would make them more engaging? I also want to mention one other example from our experience. You know, we've got a podcast as well called the PracticeLab podcast that you can find on, you know, iTunes and Apple and Stitcher and all those places.
I recently had the pleasure of talking to Ray Evans. He's a great guy. He's an advisor, very successful guy out in Kansas City, Overland Park. And he and his team shared an idea that he was running out there this spring, which was he does, like, monthly events with clients and prospects. And he said, "Look, in Kansas, college basketball's a very big deal." And March Madness presented him the opportunity to pull an event together where he got a couple of the well-known sports journalists at the big paper there to come in and speak and talk about March Madness, University of Kansas, and all that, and he said it was a huge hit. So, I love that example. Ray, if you're on the line, thank you for doing that again.
[I] encourage everybody to go check out that PracticeLab podcast. You know, Wassan, I think there's another element of this that is important to share, which is, this doesn't have to be kind of a point in time or a static process. You should be thinking about evolving this and mining your own data that you have as an advisor to continuously, kind of, refine this and how you execute it. Tell us more about, pretty intriguing idea, but tell us more about that.
WK: Sure. You know, when you think about data, data drives so many decisions in our current world, and there is an opportunity for us to mine some of the data that we have at our disposal. So, some of you have firms that are running surveys on your behalf. Maybe you're even employing surveys for yourself. That's data. And you can look through, and if one of the questions happens to be, “How satisfied are you that you're going to be successful in reaching retirement or XYZ goal?” It's pretty powerful to know, for instance, if 95% of your clients are confident that they're going to retire successfully. This is a marker that you can use when you're talking to COIs, when you're talking to other prospects. Check with your compliance. You might even be able to advertise it in different ways, but that's a really important note.
I know that not everybody has access to surveys, and they are quite a large undertaking if you're trying to create one for yourself, and I understand that. So, you can do an unofficial survey of sorts, and it's really kind of a gut check with some of your best clients. And this is an exercise that I love. But asking some of your best clients what it is that they value most about working with you, that answer is so insightful. It can bring so much to light. It can help you with your marketing strategy, and where you can actually use some of the language that they've given you, in order to put it in your bio.
So let's say people love how much you listen, that you're consistently there for them, that you've helped them and their families achieve their goals, et cetera. That's the type of thing that resonates with the people that you work best with. Other things, people will probably tell you overwhelmingly that they trust you, and that is something you can turn right back around to some of your prospects and say, "My best clients tell me that the number-one thing they value about our shared relationship is the trust that we have with one another." And that's a really great way to mine some of that data, whether it's official or kind of unofficial, where you're mining that data in person or virtually, like you and I are, but Will, hopefully that helped answer that question.
WM: No, that's excellent, and I wanted to, really interesting idea and I think, you know, maybe that's for sort of the advanced level. When you get some of these other things in place, let's figure out how to do a survey. I want to look at the comments. Thank you in the audience. Great interaction here. Let me read some of these out to you guys, in terms of the virtual meetings that you're doing or not. And here was a couple of ideas. First of all, "None. I'm Zoomed out." OK, we've heard that certainly. Here's a couple, "Currently nothing, but love ideas." "None right now; would love to start." "Monthly webinar, generally have a local estate planner, divorce attorney, CPA." That's great. "Monthly coffee club, guest speakers." There you go, Chris. "Thinking about coffee and happy hour events." Here's one, "Wine and wine tasting." Excellent. We like that idea. I see Wassan nodding.
WK: I'm in.
WM: Try that Hawaiian pizza with that. "I'm conducting a market overview and economic update." Great ideas in here, and there's so many creative things that you can consider. Again, this is one of those areas where I would encourage you: Reach out to your Capital Group team. Chris and Wassan and Paul, the brilliant Paul Cieslik, who is also on the team, have a ton of great ideas. Tap on the resources at Capital, which may be able to help you design some ideas around that. And what I'd like to do is go ahead and summarize some of what we've covered today.
First of all, love this discussion. I love the interaction. Thank you so much for that. You know, as I think about what we covered and frankly, what I learned, I have a ton of notes here, and I think if we jump even to the idea of the three topics — the positioning, the connecting, the engaging. We talked about the idea of a digital storefront. I love that, Wassan. Illustrate your value to clients and prospects. Again, tell your story. Don't just regurgitate your resume. I literally need to go work on my LinkedIn profile this afternoon. We then talked about brand ambassador, such a powerful idea, those folks who enjoy using social currency to work on your behalf, and some ideas for how to leverage that even further. And then, Chris talked about virtual events. He gave you a few great ideas there. It's this notion of tapping into the passions of your client base and making it interactive, making it interesting; be creative. You know, there were a bunch of ideas thrown out. I saw a ton of interest in this idea of Feedly and tapping into content sources that you guys can use.
So again, talk to your Capital Group team for help on following up on that. What I'd like to do now, I just want to leave you with two action steps, everybody in the audience. You've been fantastic. I love all the interaction here. I want to ask you to take two action steps and do two things. First and foremost, most important, reach out to your Capital Group team. If you like what you heard today, talk to them about how you can follow up on these ideas and potentially even work with Chris and Wassan directly. Believe it or not, today's program is just one piece of a seven-part program called Elite Engagement, again, that's Elite Engagement, that Chris, Wassan, and the brilliant Paul Cieslik put together. And, you know, your team can go even deeper on today's topic if you'd like, and look into the other six pieces of that program. It's absolutely dynamite. I can't recommend it highly enough, and my guess is, Capital Group has more practice management resources than you may be aware of, so reach out to your local team.
Number two, go to PracticeLab and check out all the great articles there that have all the tips and tools and techniques that are going to help you grow your practice, engage with clients. Actually, I lied. Number three, when you're on PracticeLab, make sure you download the advisor benchmarking report that we talked about earlier. Chris referenced this very powerful study. It can help you understand what top advisors are doing, engage your own progress against those elements. You can find all of that and more at practicelab.com. You go to the top of your browser and just type in one word, practicelab.com, and actually, we also have the domain name, simply, practicemanagement.com. If you type that into your browser, that'll take you right to PracticeLab.
So listen, folks, it's been a great discussion. That's all the time we have today. I want to thank Wassan and Chris. I learned a lot today. I hope you did, too. We hope you all found this useful, helpful stuff that you can actually apply in your business. Don't forget to take advantage of the additional resources attached to this event, and don't ever use the word “debunk” on your virtual meetings as I did today. That's one area for me to improve on. With that, thanks again, and enjoy the rest of your day.
CG: Thanks, Will. Thanks, y'all.
WM: Thanks, guys.
WK: Thank you.
Virtual is the new normal, and you’re already leveraging technology to engage clients. But are you doing all you can to enhance your digital brand and forge even stronger connections with clients and prospects? Join our practice management consultants Wassan Kasey and Chris Gies as they share digital branding strategies, tips for online prospecting, and a proven approach for hosting deeply engaging virtual client meetings.
What you’ll get:
• Three simple steps to creating an enhanced digital brand
• Strategies to identify and leverage brand ambassadors
• Tips to take virtual client meetings from good to great
• 21-day “Prospect and grow using digital strategies” action plan
Who can benefit:
• U.S.-based financial advisors at any career stage seeking to enhance their digital marketing and prospecting skills
Watch on demand for one hour of CE credit for CFP and CIMA designations. Take the CE credit quiz.
Wassan Kasey is an advisory Practice Management Consultant and national speaker at Capital Group, home of American Funds. She has 16 years of industry experience and has been with Capital Group for two years (as of 12/19/2019). She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Southern California. Wassan is based in Los Angeles.
Chris Gies is senior vice president of advisor Practice Management Director for Capital Group. He has more than three decades of industry experience and specializes in training high-level advisors on various practice development topics.