Most financial advisors have the goal of becoming their clients' "trusted advisor." One key way of achieving that role is to develop a strong communication plan, says Shauna Trainor, engagement manager with the Covenant Group in Toronto. Effective communication can help you develop procedural trust, so that your clients are comfortable with the system that is in place to manage the relationship.

If you have a clearly defined communication process, your clients will develop trust in your relationship more easily.

Here are three components of procedural trust and how to maintain them with your clients:

1. Engagement
Communication should be a two-way street, Trainor says. So, it's important that you take steps to generating feedback from your clients.  

By demonstrating that you understand and relate to the goals and values of your clients, Trainor says, you will likely also increase your chances of engaging with other people in their network, which can lead to referrals.

One way to improve client engagement is to survey your clients informally, Trainor says. Informal surveys can take place during in-person meetings, for example, or over the phone. If clients aren't rating your services as 5 out of a possible 5, she adds, it's unlikely that you and your clients share the same expectations.

Use this survey process as an opportunity to clarify both your expectations and those of your clients.  

2. Explanation
The explanation component of procedural trust means that you're engaging clients in conversation so that they understand how the relationship will unfold, Trainor says.

"Explanation also means articulating what is the fair exchange of value," she adds.

This exchange is not specific to pricing, however.

"We're no longer looking at only the product, or only the transaction," Trainor says. "We're looking at the relationship over the long term and we need to engage in dialogue around what that looks like."

3. Expectation clarity

Expectation clarity means that both client and advisor are in agreement as to how ongoing communication will occur.  

For example, if you are accustomed to contacting clients by email, it's still important for you to confer with new clients as to how they would like to receive information.

This topic is usually best discussed when onboarding a new client. "Expectations may change over time," Trainor says, "so be cognisant of asking for feedback on a regular basis to make sure that you're aware of any changes."

Read: Four ways to close a prospect

Watch: A new model for advisor-client communication

 

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