Avoiding the Perfect Storm in Communication: A Day in the Life of a Wealth Manager
Jeff is a wealth manager in a large city in the United States. He works for a medium size RIA, is assisted by a team of support staff and manages 75 client relationships.
Jeff wakes early at 5am. As is his routine, he checks his work email to make sure everything is lined up for the day and no emergencies need his attention. Two client emails catch his attention – Susan needs to change the location and time of her lunch meeting, but will need to email later today to confirm. The other is from Mike who needs to free up additional money from his ETF portfolio for a property purchase the next day. He is going to confirm numbers by 3pm, as the wire transfer for tomorrow’s 9am closing will also need to be set up at the same time.
The communication with Jeff’s office runs through email, internal phone calls and voicemail. Team members will email each other with details of client situations and updates and if no email response comes through from that team member, an internal phone call is made. If there’s no answer, a voicemail is left. Based on this system, there’re some obvious holes that no one has taken the time to resolve.
At 10am, Susan emails Jeff and tells him she needs to meet at the café on Becker Street at noon. At 11:15 he heads out, leaving him with only his email on his phone as a means of communication with the office and clients. Jeff uses his own device for this which means he’s not set up for compliant calls from clients. While he’s driving, Susan calls the main office line and Jeff’s desk and gets sent to voicemail both times. She then emails that she missed a typo in her email – it’s not Becker, but Necker – a slip on her keyboard. She shoots him an email, but Jeff has email notifications turned off as he drives. Even as he arrives at the café, he is unaware of the change. Only as Susan is 15 minutes late, he checks his email to discover the mix-up. With no way to call or text Susan without risking becoming non-compliant, he shoots her an email hoping she’ll find it soon, but knowing that their lunch date will now need to be rescheduled.
As Jeff drives back to the office, Mike calls Jeff’s office line with his cash needs and gets Jeff’s voicemail. He then calls the main office line to request to talk to Jeff’s assistant, Barb, and relays trading instructions.
Albeit flustered, by 1pm Jeff is back in the office and taking care of things. He sees the message from his assistant as to trading instructions and sets about getting everything lined up before the market closes. While this is going on, Mike gets a message from his realtor that he will need to bring an extra $10,000 to the table tomorrow in order to close. Mike calls Barb again – not knowing Jeff is back in the office – and instructs Jeff’s assistant to adjust the trade by $10,000.
A quick scramble occurs. Barb is heading into another meeting when she gets this call, takes the message and gives Jeff a quick call. He’s not at his desk, so she leaves a quick voicemail. She doesn’t have time to write an email or enter this into the CRM just yet, but she knows that Jeff is usually diligent about picking up his voicemail.
Jeff gets back to his desk, places the trade for the original amount, and sets up the wire transfer for the next morning. He doesn’t see his voicemail light blinking until 5pm that night as he finishes things up for the day. Mike’s 9am closing will not be going according to plan the next morning.
While most days do not include issues like these, effective internal lines of communication affect a client’s experience – both positively and negatively.
If Jeff’s team had a system like CellTrust’s SL2 in place, these mistakes could have been avoided:
- If Jeff had a compliant way to talk and text with clients, he could have received a text message from Susan about a change in lunch location, and they could have had lunch together.
- Jeff and his assistant could have had an internal group text message about all client updates, and a quick text message from Barb as she entered her meeting would have made Jeff aware of the need for extra funds.
While neither of these issues were driven by advisor errors – these were all driven by changing client situations – being able to adjust quickly is what makes for a stellar client experience. Being able to do this accurately and compliantly is where a well-designed communication system makes some advisors stand up above the rest.
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The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.