​Client Communication: Digital vs. Traditional

​Client Communication: Digital vs. Traditional

​Client Communication: Digital vs. Traditional As blogs, newsletters and videos become normal modes of client communication, advisors are heading into the brave new world of digitization. But old-school communication is just as key to connecting with a client’s enduringly emotional heart, warns Anders Sorman-Nilsson

We are entering a world of digital disruption: the idea that everything that can be digitized will eventually be digitized. This includes the customer service and marketing touchpoints that are essential tools for investment advisors seeking to win the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s investors.

Digital disruption is a force to be reckoned with for those professionals, but it doesn’t mean that everything that can be digitized should necessarily be digitized. It’s essential to pay careful attention to your communications mix so that you don’t throw out the traditional baby with the traditional bathwater. While the digital world represents a shiny new penny that is key to engaging with the customer’s increasingly digitized, rational mind, old-school communication remains vital to connecting with the client’s enduringly traditional, emotional heart.

The digital world disintermediates the relationship between financial and bricks-and-mortar investments and the end consumer, and that consumer is increasingly doing their due diligence digitally. This means that you run the risk of being digitally disintermediated unless you start providing more value to the customer. Think robo-advisors, but also think about fighting that threat a new way. Digital is phenomenal for attracting new clients, and traditional is great for retaining existing clients. Thus, you need to become a thought leader in the way that you provide informational, rational value to clients’ increasingly digital minds, while still connecting with them emotionally.

To be able to compete with digital comparison portals and to protect yourself against digital disintermediation, it’s critical that you figure out which touchpoints you should digitize and which ones you shouldn’t digitize. This isn’t a choice between either the digital or the traditional channel. Instead, you must go “digilogue.” Here’s how:

Put your industry thought leadership and professional expertise on the digital line by creating a great blog, newsletter, and well-designed, interactive website. Create a four-two-one digital content schedule: blogging four times per month, sending two digital newsletters per month, and creating engaging and educational video content at least once per quarter.

For example, an advisor in Coal Harbour, Vancouver, could create a four-two-one digital content schedule to provide informational value to clients’ (and prospective clients’) digital minds, while also boosting his or her Google rankings. It would look something like this:


  1. “The impact of the central bank decision on property values in Coal Harbour”
  2. “A cost-benefit analysis of cashing out existing investments to transfer those funds into the Coal Harbour market”
  3. “Do’s and don’ts when using RRSP-eligible investment to buy Coal Harbour property”
  4. “Top 7 questions about REIT investment alternatives”

  1. “3 tips to ensure a good equities-real estate portfolio mix”
  2. “Coal Harbour property trends – why the time is right!”
  1. Interviews with current clients now switching up their portfolios to allow for Coal Harbour investment

You must be seen in the digital world. Your prospects need to start trusting you as a thought leader in the digital world before making an approach to see you in the traditional world. In the digital world, where clients are doing their digital due diligence, offering engaging content is king.

Creating search-engine-optimized, localized content that can be easily accessed by a prospect via mobile devices will be key to your success in winning digital minds. For example, have content on offer that your clients can view while they’re walking up the street in your area and checking out property.

While it is critical that you, as an advisor, are digitally accessible and provide value to digital minds, you also have to ensure that you connect deeply with traditional hearts. Traditionally and enduringly, most transactions take place in the traditional , face-to-face world. Big deals are usually still sealed with a handshake. There is something about the ritual of signing on the dotted line with a Montblanc pen, for example, that the digital world still cannot mirror.

It’s absolutely necessary to make each tangible traditional encounter with clients, and prospective clients, world class. If a client, or prospective client, decides to spend traditional , face-to-face time with you, you must show incredible respect for the time they invest with you by connecting deeply with their traditional hearts.

In June 2013, when I spoke at the Million Dollar Round Table for global financial advisors and insurance professionals in Philadelphia, I gave the following recommendations. Have a think about them:

  • Scenario planning and consulting on a one-on-one basis with your client: My financial advisors at Sentinel Wealth do this incredibly well. We sit down each quarter face-to-face and revisit goals and the long-term plan. They provide me with hindsight, insight and foresight based on our plan, while providing a sense of partnership during these conversations.
  • Writing a handwritten card: This will remind the client of their investment and savings goal, or congratulate them on goals achieved. When I was working with mortgage brokers who sold Advantedge products, one broker said that handwritten notes was his key way of adding traditional value and ensuring he retained his clients’ loyalty.
  • Hosting investment and financial literacy workshops for clients and their friends: This is a great way of adding value to existing relationships, while also building a pipeline of trusted referrals.
  • Speaking at industry conferences: This will boost your personal brand and thought-leadership credentials, and harness your financial networks (accountants, mortgage professionals, stockbrokers, banks, etc.) both for speaking opportunities and face-to-face introductions. If you become a trusted advisor and thought leader within the industry, the likelihood is that the industry will talk about you. This in turn can generate positive PR and recommendations.

There is a time to be digital and there is a time to be traditional. Financial services professionals must ensure they find the correct blend. Digital is phenomenal for attracting new clients and for boosting your own digitally amplified branding, while traditional can be great for building enduring trust, retaining business and closing deals.

Increasingly, you must learn to shift seamlessly between the digital and traditional worlds. In one word, you must start becoming “digilogue.”

Anders Sorman-NilssonAnders Sorman-Nilsson is a global futurist, innovation strategist, keynote speaker at TEDx and author of the new book, Digilogue: How to Win the Digital Minds and Traditional Hearts of Tomorrow’s Customer.