Industry Commentary: When clients want the new black

How to remain on the cutting edge with clients and avoid competitors getting a handle on your book.

As wealth management professionals, if we’ve learned anything from behavioural financial or investor psychology, it is that our clients like to feel that they are on the cutting edge of what's hip and happening in the world of investing.

With mutual funds, estate-planning strategies, insurance coverage and countless opportunities to invest in exempt market products, we are faced with a myriad of options – an embarrassment of riches.

It’s our job, as trusted professionals, to put this into context for our clients.
From Tulip’s to Technology
Individuals often get caught up in investment fads or trends. From an investment perspective? Consider 1637’s “tulip mania”, where prices of tulip bulbs rose to levels that exceed 10 times the annual earnings of a skilled craftsperson. Or closer to this epoch, the “tech bubble” or the huge demand for molybdenum… the list goes on.
Sometimes, what is perceived as the “latest and the greatest”… isn’t.
So does that mean you shouldn’t introduce or discuss these new ideas with clients? Absolutely not! Many clients have an insatiable appetite for new knowledge and information. They consume print and television media and form their own opinions about emerging ideas. This is where you can demonstrate your expertise as a trusted professional—don’t waste the opportunity.
Introducing New Ideas
Make it a point at every client meeting to discuss a new concept or strategy, even if you don’t plan on implementing it as part of their plan. For example: “Have you seen the reports on this tax-saving strategy in the news? Here is why I don’t think it applies in your situation.” This demonstrates two important things:
  1. You are keeping up-to-date with recent trends and ideas, and
  2. You are thinking about how those ideas might impact your client and making a recommendation 
If, on the other hand, there is a strategy that you would like to deploy that you believe will help your client, come prepared to answer all of their questions. The more prepared you are, the more trust you will earn as you can demonstrate that you have thought about how the new idea fits into the overall strategy. If documents need to be reviewed, have them on hand so that when the client walks away they have everything they need to properly evaluate the decision. If paperwork needs to be completed or updated, certainly make sure it is ready to go.
One important reason to introduce new ideas—charitable-giving strategies, individual pension plans, investment concepts—is to ensure that your clients hear about these from you before one of your competitors. Affluent clients, in particular, are constantly being bombarded with invitations to attend seminars and events discussing new ideas. Recognize that these are opportunities for other advisors to start building relationships with them, potentially luring them away from you and your practice.
That said, if you have a new idea or two of your own, consider turning the tables and moving into a business development mode. Running a seminar or professional development session on a new idea with clients will only increase the level of trust they have for you and your services.

Craig Swistun is a Vice President with CC&L Private Capital Ltd. and can be contacted at [email protected]. CC&L Private Capital Ltd. is an investment counseling firm that provides traditional and alternative solutions to high net worth individuals, foundations and endowments, first nations and trusts. More information about CC&L Private Capital Ltd. can be found online  at

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