Financial planners who spend a substantial part of their work week communicating with clients have the most success in gaining new ones, according to the the Financial Planning Association's third quarter Research Spotlight.
According to 470 financial advisors asked about trends in the financial planning field, planners who spend 30 to 34 hours a week communicating in one way or another with their clients gained the most clients (10% or more) during 2009. However, most reported spending far less time on communications.
On the other hand, of those who spent less than 10 hours a week communicating with clients, nearly half (48.4%) lost clients during the past year.
Communication that successfully builds a practice can come in numerous forms. The most popular methods of communicating with clients include telephone calls (79.5%), e-mails (71.4%), face-to-face sessions (62.7%) and newsletters (39.5%), followed by letters, blogs or other social media, postcards and group functions.
At the same time, the largest number of planners (23.6%) reported communicating with clients 10 to 14 hours a week, followed by those who contact clients five to nine hours a week coming in second at 21.1%. Almost two thirds reported using 20 or fewer hours a week in communicating with clients.
Planners say they reach out to clients for a number of reasons, the most popular being to review financial portfolios and goals (87%), to give recommendations and advice (83.4%) and to discuss finances related to life-changing events (78%).
Although it is impossible to directly relate communication time with growing a business, "financial planning is a relationship-based field, and the most successful among its professionals often speak to the importance of client trust built on a foundation of communication," says Christina Nelson, FPA senior editor.