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What would you do with just 1 client?

WASHINGTON — What services should you provide if you had just one client?

The answer to that question could shed light on what’s most important in the client advisor relationship, said Barry Glassman, founder of Glassman Wealth Services.

Sending personalized video emails to clients and leveraging technology to pay more attention to their children are strategies his firm employed relatively cheaply and at scale, he told a packed room of about 200 advisors at Schwab Impact 2018. Other techniques are also becoming available for advisors willing to think outside the box.

The trick is to harness technology behind the scenes to free up more time. For example, his firm sends 10-minute videos embedded directly into performance PDFs that explain what is happening in investment portfolios. Clients come to meetings better prepared and ask the right questions, he said.

“Clients are busy,” Glassman said. “This isn’t their full-time job.”

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After adding the videos, investment conversations were cut in half during client meetings. That means his team has time to talk about meaningful goals like children, travel and estate planning, he said. “Suddenly this person is empowered because they had time to digest it and ask specific questions,” Glassman said.

Featuring junior associates in the videos allows them to become more familiar talking about investment portfolios and shows clients that you have a robust team, he said. “It gives the second chair a chance to build that relationship with the client,” Glassman said.

Getting to know a client’s spouse, and even their children, has allowed his firm to build stronger client-advisor relationships. For example, young adults with children often don’t have wills, trust or life insurance, and their parents are concerned that they aren’t doing enough to protect the wealth for the next generation. “They like kids, they love grandkids,” Glassman said. “They really want to make sure their kids don’t screw up the wealth as they pass it on to them.”

His firm offers to work with children of clients free of charge. “When we told clients that their kids don’t have to have money with us to call us for advice, we got a reaction that was just a look of relief,” Glassman said.

“If you had only one client would the portfolio be different?” Glassman asked the roomful of advisors. There may be more time for research, or to spend choosing an investment vehicle. But he also discussed a possible downside. “We would probably trade more often,” Glassman said. “And, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

Firing a majority of a firm’s clients isn’t viable, obviously. Having multiple clients gives advisors experience in handling a variety of life situations, Glassman said.

Glassman ended the seminar with a laugh. “I’m not suggesting you fire all but one of your clients,” he said, “but if you do make sure you mention my name.”

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