Losing clients comes with the territory of being a financial adviser.
Whether they believe they can no longer afford your services, or they’ve been poached by a competitor, there’s a good way to 'break up', and a bad way.
Seasoned financial adviser and Director of TripleA Finance, Ashley Hann, doesn't exactly make a habit of losing clients. But he says it's inevitable, to some degree, so it's worth knowing how to part ways on good terms.
“You can't please everyone, you can't be friends with everyone. Clients are going to leave,” he says.
“In general, it's not going to be because of you as a person.”
By following the steps below, not only will your (ex) client's future outlook be brighter, but they may one day come back to you.
Your first reaction
When a client delivers the news they're moving on, Hann wishes them all the best, regardless of the circumstances.
“If they're moving interstate and want to be closer to a planner, say: 'We're still here, we like you. If you don't find someone else you can come back and if you need anything you can still phone',” he says.
“If they say they don't really gel with you, say 'that's fantastic, it's your money and you've got to find the right person who you can open up to and have meaningful conversations with'.”
Have respect, and self-respect
If someone says they want to move on, respect that.
“I don't convince people to stay. You're unlikely to convince them anyway and it looks desperate,” Hann says.
“If they have a slightly negative view of you it's only going to get compounded.”
Remember to keep their departure in perspective, too – one client isn't going to make or break your business, but it could make a big difference for them.
Encourage an ongoing relationship
Just because clients are failing to appreciate the value you offer today, doesn't mean they won't value it tomorrow – so don't burn bridges.
“I let them know we're not cutting them off – I get confirmation that they're still comfortable to receive emails from us and, if they've downloaded our app, I let them know they'll still have access,” Hann says.
It's also good practice to keep a database of former clients you may like to deal with in future.
“I'll make a note to give them a quick call 12 months later and check they're okay,” Hann says.
Hann said this approach has not only led to clients returning, but it's also resulted in former clients referring friends and family.
“Sometimes those calls are more important than calls to fee paying clients who expect it,” Hann notes.
While it's important not to take client departures too personally, it would be remiss not to reflect on why they left and learn from that.
“If you've had a bit of a drop off, analyse it,” Hann says.
“If all the ones dropping off are your retirees maybe consider lowering your fees once everything is structured in the first few years of retirement and there's less work for you.”
Finally, if a client decides to return, don't judge them.
“If they've gone to someone because they think they're going to get double digit returns and that hasn't worked out they're already going to feel bad,” Hann says.
“We step them through the new client process once more – and ask them what their goals are – but more importantly we say 'what do you want from us to ensure you don't leave again?”
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Important: This article has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial or taxation situation or needs of any particular individual. Before acting on the information, you should consider its appropriateness to your circumstances and if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. Any information used in this article is for illustrative purposes only. TripleA Finance is an external entity that is not a member of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Group of Companies (the Group) and the content or any view expressed by TripleA Finance and its employees does not represent an endorsement, recommendation, guarantee or advice in regard to any matter. CBA, nor members of the Group accept any liability for losses or damage arising from any reliance on external parties their products, services and material.