2016 brought us one of the most contentious election seasons to date. Even now, as we prepare for our new president to take office in a few short days, representatives from both camps are still reeling from the results and their implications. We’re all leaning in out of excitement, curiosity or anxiety as we wait to see what happens next.
Part of human nature is a need for stability, especially in times of uncertainty. In the financial world, on top of dealing with daily speculations about how Trump’s presidency may affect advisor-investor relations, we’re also blasted with headlines about fees and retirement plan expenses. We’d like to set the record straight on fees, trust and other significant offerings advisors can make when first meeting with a prospective retirement plan client.
According to research done by Mass Mutual, most plan sponsors, especially those in the small plan market, seek out assistance in educating employees, lowering plan costs and remaining up to date on regulation and developments affecting retirement plans. So, what specifically do they want, and how can you build trust with them?
Know your value proposition and communicate it clearly in your marketing, mission statement, and in meetings with clients. Discuss your services clearly and help your clients understand the difference between yourself and your competitors. Share your “why”, and tell them how that affects the services that you provide. Most importantly, share with them how your “why” will impact them and their participants.
Offer group meetings for the Plan Sponsors’ employees. Plan Sponsors ranked education meetings as a priority when it comes to services advisors provide. Your willingness to partner with the plan sponsor to help their employees clearly understand their retirement plan, and then helping those employees build solid retirement savings, shows your commitment not only to the plan sponsor but to your profession.
Don’t shy away from discussing your compensation. Everyone has to earn a living. The best approach is an open and simple review of how you’re paid, but more importantly, what value you add for your compensation. Avoid jargon in these conversations – keep your explanation straight-forward and easy to understand. A service agreement illustrating the services you provide for the fees you are paid will help to illustrate your value and build trust. It communicates to the client what they can expect you to provide.
In your initial meeting with your prospective clients, a key factor in building trust going forward is setting expectations – both yours and your clients. Discuss any needs you have of your client to properly advise them (goals for both the plan sponsor and employees, communication preferences). Get a list of their priorities (cutting back on plan expenses, employee education) and offer a broad plan in which you can emphasize these priorities.
Building a trustworthy reputation takes time. If you’re an advisor just starting out, or you’re simply seeking to differentiate yourself further, contact us! We partner with advisors to help them provide exceptional service to their retirement plan clients while taking some of the heavy lifting off your back!