by Daniel C. Finley
The holiday season can be an exciting and memorable time, but for those in the financial services industry it can also be a time for additional stressors-taking year-end profits and losses, connecting with clients about annual portfolio reviews, creating an annual marketing plan and budget-all while trying to find time for family and friends. Keep these challenges from taking their toll. Here are some simple strategies for ensuring a less stressful holiday season.
Create Holiday Goals
The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day seems to pass quickly as you juggle your day-to-day business operations, increased family obligations and a growing list of personal to-dos. The best way to meet your year-end goals is to avoid procrastination. Here's a simple exercise:
Determine where you are now (year-to-date AUM, new accounts opened, etc.) and compare that to what you set as year-end goals (dust off the business plan if you need to). You now have where you are (point A) and where you need to be (point B). Create a plan to bridge that gap and include tasks you can compartmentalize down to a weekly and even daily basis. Then strive to take the necessary action to obtain those goals.
One example of this is what Joe C., a financial adviser I coached last year, did to create his holiday goals. After discussing the process mentioned above, Joe crunched the numbers and determined that if he had three appointments more a week he would open a minimum of one new account a week and/or gather an additional amount of assets from current clients. To give himself a little buffer, he increased his daily activity goal to setting one additional appointment a day from what he typically set. He knew that setting a total of five additional appointments a week-with the possibility that two out of the five might cancel because it was the busy holiday season-would still allow him to reach his goal of closing one each week. He diligently spent the first hour of the day calling prospects and clients to set appointments. As a result, he often exceeded his daily goal and more importantly, superseded his annual goal.
Joe was able to better enjoy the holiday season because he consciously mapped out what he needed to do each day and didn't wait until the last few weeks to rush trying to have a strong finish.
Create a Holiday Connection
For some advisers, hitting year-end goals is not as important as taking the time to connect with clients.
Jennifer L., a veteran financial adviser client of mine, has prided herself on having strong communications with her clients during the holiday season for more than a decade. She calls it her "CCC" campaign-cards, calls and connections. Let's take a look at her strategy:
In mid-November she sends out Thanksgiving cards to her A-list clients, followed by a phone call to say thanks for being a client. During those conversations she takes notes of anything happening in her clients' lives, as well as any questions, comments or concerns they have.
In late November she sends out holiday cards to her entire client base, complete with a personalized note to her A-list clients based on something they recently spoke about.
In early to mid-December she calls all of her B-list clients to wish them happy holidays and hear any questions, comments or concerns they have.
In mid- to late December she finishes her campaign follow-up and sets appointments to start the new year strong.
The key to making holiday connections is to have structure-knowing when to mail, call and/or follow up with each segment of your client base. Jennifer has a structured conversation of what to say, what questions to ask and even how she will close the conversation. That way, her calls are effective as well as efficient. She also blocks out an hour each day to run her campaign to ensure she will connect with as many clients as possible. Finally, she creates good will while making sure her clients are properly served.
According to Jennifer, if you go into the holidays with a plan to connect with clients, you'll get out of it a lot more than you ever expected. And once you realize this, you'll look forward to connecting with clients over the holidays every year.
Balance Business With Friends and Family
Some advisers use the holiday season not only to connect with clients but to have their clients connect with each other as well. This can be done with a holiday client appreciation party.
A prime example of this is Jeff T., a 20-year veteran who has been hosting a holiday party for the past five years. Jeff enlists the help of his family to create and mail invitations and manage the details of the party. His wife takes care of booking the venue and arranging the catering. His two daughters create the invitations and are in charge of hand-addressing the envelopes and mailing them in mid-November. Jeff does the follow-up calls, simply asking, "Did you get my holiday party invitation?" He'll remind clients about the party, telling them they are welcome to bring family and friends.
For Jeff, the holiday party has become a family tradition. And he has turned the party into a way not only to make great connections with his clients but also to be casually introduced to clients' friends and family. As a result, he starts the new year out right by loading up on initial appointments from those he met at the party.
Whether you follow the examples here or create your own strategies for keeping your holiday season stress-free, know that having fun this holiday season is the best plan of all.
Daniel C. Finley is a former adviser and current president of Advisor Solutions Inc., a business development consulting and coaching service for financial advisers. Contact him at email@example.com to share your own stress-free holiday tips or type "Advisor-Solutions" on Facebook.