How to make your ultra-affluent clients happy

“…the model that works in the institutional world does not necessarily translate well to the world of the ultra affluent,” writes Scott Welch of Fortigent, LLC in “Differentiating When Consulting to the Ultra Affluent,” an article published in the CFA Institute’s private wealth management e-newsletter.

So, while wealth managers like to talk about bringing institutional-quality management to individual clients, forget about your institutional client-service model.

As a professional writer, I was intrigued to read that “…satisfied clients hear from their primary adviser 28 times a year, or a little more than twice a month, and it might be a phone call, an e-mail, a fax, a newsletter, a research report, or just a quick hello.  Unsatisfied clients hear from their primary advisers fewer than 17 times a year (emphasis added).” One extra client touch per month could make an enormous difference!

Welch discusses how to satisfy ultra-affluent clients in terms of platform, process, and people.

Platform means that your product and service offerings must be comprehensive.  Without the full array of wealth management offerings, you won’t “get a seat at the table.” But the key is providing access to those services. Outsourcing is okay.

Process means that a relationship manager with excellent people skills and an outstanding support team arranges client access to products and services. 

People means that roles are becoming more specialized, taking advantage of employees’ personalities and knowledge. Also, ongoing professional education is essential because of increasing specialization.

How I ghostwrite your financial article

Too busy to write an article? Hiring a ghostwriter is a great way to produce a compelling article in a short amount of time.

Ghostwriting is one of my specialties. Please read on for an explanation of how you and I can work together.

My ghostwriting process typically includes these steps:
1. Topic identification
2. Interview of expert(s)
3. Outline
4. First draft
5. Revision, if necessary
6. Completion

1. Topic identification

You and I will discuss your topic over the phone. It’s helpful if you can answer these questions:
•    Why do you want to write an article and what do you want it to accomplish?
•    What is your topic?
•    Who is your audience and what do you want them to do after they read your article?
•    Why will your readers care about your article topic?
•    What problem will your article solve for your readers?
•    What are the three main points you’d like to make?
•    Where will the article appear?
•    What word count are you targeting? For example, a ghostwritten newspaper article often runs 600-1,000 words and a double-spaced, typed page runs about 200-250 words.
•    By when do you need the article completed?
•    What is your review and approval process?

Following this interview, I typically send you a letter of agreement that describes the scope of the work we will do together.

2. Interview of expert(s)

Most of the articles that I ghostwrite are based on an interview with a single expert. Sometimes multiple experts and outside research are involved.

Prior to the interview, I will send you a list of questions to think about. If that makes you think of useful exhibits or other data, it’s helpful for you to send them to me prior to our interview.

The interview will be conducted by phone and tape recorded, so I can refer back to it.

3. Outline

Following our interview, I will typically send you a robust outline, so you can agree to the direction of the article before I send you a complete draft. The outline will incorporate my questions and requests for additional information needed to flesh out the article.

4. First draft

After you respond to my questions and approve the outline, I will send you an article following the outline.

5. Revisions

My clients are often satisfied with my initial draft. However, sometimes changes are needed. Our letter of agreement will specify the scope of revisions included in your project fee.

6. Completion

When the process is complete, you’ve got an article you can publish under your name. It’s ready to go!


"You Can Write – Six easy tips to getting words from your head to your computer keyboard"

Financial advisors need to write to their clients. It’s an essential part of marketing. “Phone conversations are fleeting and cannot be handed as a referral to a friend in the same way that a piece of written material can be passed on,” as PR consultant Beth Chapman of Ink & Air points out in “You Can Write – Six easy tips to getting words from your head to your computer keyboard,” her article below.

Forget your old issues with writing, this is a new day and this is business.

  1. Ever hear of an outline? Outlines can take away some of your uncertainty when you do realize you have something to say.
  2. No one really likes grammar, so write short sentences and avoid all internal punctuation that you can.
  3. Have someone else read your document after you have gone through spell check. Often a word can be spelled correctly, but be the wrong word for the context. Familiarity breeds written errors.  That second set of eyes is extremely useful.
  4. Write in bullet points instead of sentences and paragraphs, where transitions are not needed. This engages the reader’s eyes better than run on sentences.
  5. Writing can be done if you tackle it when you are the freshest and work for only 10 minutes a day for several days. Outline and get the ideas down and then polish.
  6. Phone conversations are fleeting and cannot be handed as a referral to a friend in the same way that a piece of written material can be passed on.

How to publicize your white paper using LinkedIn

You can leverage LinkedIn to publicize your white paper. It won’t cost you anything more than the time it takes to write a LinkedIn Question.

Free White Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide to Producing High Quality Case Studies.”  That’s what Toby Younis put in the headline as his “question.” Okay, so it’s not really a question. That means it’s breaking LinkedIn’s rules.

But it works. Younis got me to download his white paper on case studies. I noticed it because on my LinkedIn home page I track “Answers” for “Writing and Editing,” which is one of the two categories Younis picked for his “question.”

"Let Content Determine Podcast Length"

The best podcasts tend to run 5-7 minutes long, according to “Let Content Determine Podcast Length” on MarketingSherpa (paid registration may be required for article access). However, longer podcasts can work if the content is compelling.

Another key characteristic:  they focus on one topic. 

So, if you’re considering adding podcasts to your menu of investment or wealth management communications, keep them short and focused.

If you’re a financial advisor considering LinkedIn and other social networking

Is social networking right for you? 

You could easily spend hours participating in LinkedIn, Twitter or even funkier sites and services. They’re not all worth your investment of time. You can research your options following the steps in “Three Factors to Consider Before Jumping on the Social Media Bandwagon” (free registration may be required to access this article).

By the way, consultant David Drucker recently weighed in on the value of LinkedIn in “Linking Up” and I wrote in April on “How financial advisors use LinkedIn to boost their visibility.”


Another reason for financial advisors to start a blog

“I’ve been able to prove how much more I can accomplish by answering a question, and posting it on a blog, for example, than I can by answering the same question over and over.” 

This quote by Luis Suarez in his New York Times article, “I Freed Myself from E-mail’s Grip,” got me thinking. Financial advisors may find it helpful to answer their clients’ frequently asked questions on a blog. Just write up the answer once, then share it with everyone after running it by compliance, if necessary. It’s easy to direct clients to the blog post. Some may even find it on their own.

Sure, you could add the question to a FAQ (frequently asked question) section on your website. But that probably means going through a technology person who’ll delay the posting of your content. The beauty of blogs is that anyone who can type can update them.

If this blog post interests you, you may also enjoy “A great way for financial advisors to leverage existing content.

By the way, I found Suarez’ article through Lifehacker

A great way for financial advisors to leverage existing content

A blog can be a great way for financial advisors to leverage their inventory of compliance-approved articles. That’s according to my interview with Stuart Zimmerman, principal, and Jim Cornfeld, investment advisor, The Buckingham Family of Financial Services. However, it’s too early to tell if the blog will yield financial benefits.

Cornfeld started The Educated Investor blog in February, after the Financial Executives Networking Group (FENG) St. Louis offered to host blogs for its members on its website. “The group is a good demographic for us. It fits one of our niches: corporate executives,” he said.

The firm’s additional goals for the blog include:

  1. Serving as an easy place to refer clients and prospects for useful, educational articles
  2. Potentially attracting new business from web surfers who find it through online searches

Zimmerman said the blog is already handy for achieving goal number one. However, “We haven’t received any calls from prospects saying ‘We saw your blog.’ ” On the other hand, some of their articles, such as their interview with Harvard’s David Laibson and an article on geographic diversification of muni bond investing, have ranked highly in Google’s Blog Search.

Financial advisors who want to blog face two challenges: 1) compliance; 2) content generation. Buckingham may be better positioned than your typical investment advisor. Their business model includes generating a good many compliance-approved articles for use in their newsletter and for use by the 116 RIA firms that use their back office services for passive investing. “We already invested time writing these articles for other purposes,” said Cornfeld.

Another strategy that Buckingham uses to manage compliance issues: It doesn’t allow comments on its blog posts. If Buckingham wanted to reply to reader comments, it would have to run its responses through Compliance.

Talking with Cornfeld and Zimmerman got me thinking about “The Real ROI of Blogging,” an article on MarketingProfs’ Daily Fix blog. Blogger Lewis Green measures the ROI on his blog not just in terms of profits, revenue or new business leads and referrals. He also considers the blog’s impact in terms of getting his firm noticed and improving his customers’ experience and loyalty. Financial advisors should also consider these benefits.

Quants CAN communicate clearly

Sometimes my eyes glaze over when I attend quantitative presentations. That was not the case with a presentation by Jeff Brown, chief investment officer of Highstreet Asset Management.

When you hear Brown’s “Art vs. Science,” you’ll be struck by how using examples from everyday life can make your investment approach come alive.

“Inspiring presenters are short on bullet points and big on graphics,” according to “Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs” in BusinessWeek. Brown has taken that advice to heart.

By the way, when I heard him speak at the Refining Wealth Management conference put on by the Edmonton CFA Society, Brown mentioned that he has worked with a presentation coach. More investment managers should follow his example.

"Tool: Google Trends"

Google Trends will help you figure out which of your key words are searched most frequently.

Learn more in “Tool: Google Trends” on Erik Sherman’s Writer Biz blog.