Clients come in many varieties. How they spend the holidays can be equally varied. Some get away and take cruises. Others bring the family back to the ancestral home. Others hop on a plane and visit different siblings. Yet some sit at home, alone and lonely. Christmas can be a great time to touch base and connect. How can you do it?
1. The client bringing the family back home
Your sales assistant needs to be co-opted on this project. In the weeks before Christmas they ask callers, “What are you doing over the holidays?” When they hear, “We are having a family reunion,” they reply, “Have your children ever met (advisor name)?” They might think it’s a great idea and you get an invitation! If they ask, “Why would you ask that,” they reply, “Your children are going to meet your advisor someday. Wouldn’t it be good to do it now under pleasant circumstances?”
2. The client visiting family elsewhere
These might be wealthy clients. Regardless, they are braving the airport and hopping on a plane to see their children and grandchildren. Do they intend to hand out checks for Christmas, taking advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion? Checks in envelopes take up much less room in the overhead bin compared with stuffed animals.
3. The client who says, ‘Christmas is just another day to me’
Resist the temptation to say, “Bah Humbug.” For whatever reason they are not in the holiday spirit. Christmas might be just like any other day, but it is six days from December 31, the last moment to do year-end tax-loss selling. This might be a business conversation you can bring up.
4. The client who will be alone
They might have suffered a loss that year. Their children might not pay attention. They might be in a retirement home or assisted-living facility. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, you might try to make their lives a little brighter. Buy them a small potted evergreen, one of those table top trees about 18 inches tall. Bake them something or buy them something they can share and enjoy with other residents. Ideally you are delivering this personally.
5. The client taking a cruise
Do not ask why they do this when they have family who are still alive. They have their reasons and you should respect them. Contact the cruise line and buy them a bottle of wine to be served in the dining room. Maybe order flowers for the nondrinkers. Wish them a happy holiday.
“The holidays are a great time to be in touch. Not leading with business shows respect, deepens the relationship, and might get them bringing up business themselves.”
6. The client who is very charitable
You know the one. They serve on the board of a couple of nonprofits. Their picture is in the paper on a regular basis. They have one charity that is closest to their heart. Send a small donation directly to the charity in their honor. Word will get back to them. They will be impressed.
7. The client who sees the holidays as crunch time
Many advisors fit into this category. There is lots of stuff that needs to be done by year end. They might be an accountant. Send a box of pastries to their office to be enjoyed by them and their staff. Food rarely goes to waste in these situations.
8. The client who is free for lunch or cocktails
Get together over the holidays for a face-to-face get together. Do not arrive with a business agenda but be responsive if they bring up business. You might position talking in the New Year. Let them know you appreciate having them as a client. In this age of depersonalized service relationships, it makes a positive difference.
9. The client who is at loose ends
Everyone seems to have forgotten about them. They are older and still mobile. Perhaps their friends have died off. They bring you a holiday gift every year. You have become friends. Invite them to your house for your tree-decorating party. You might know a few people who fit into this category and would mix well with friends and family. Mention nothing about client relationships.
10. Send everyone holiday cards
Who would be offended or consider a holiday card intrusive? No one! They are a thoughtful gesture. Make them as personal as possible. The envelope should be hand addressed. Use a holiday stamp. The card should be personalized and be hand signed. Bills and advertising are the two types of mail people receive today. This is the type of mail that brightens someone’s day. They might call to thank you or send a card in return.
The holidays are a great time to be in touch. Not leading with business shows respect, deepens the relationship, and might get them bringing up business themselves.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” is available on Amazon.