How to Make a Graceful Departure
We are moving to a completely fee-based model in our practice. We’re having a hard time explaining to clients why this is better for them. Right now it just looks like disruption.
Did you communicate this move at all to clients before you started transitioning them? I would always recommend having a communication plan – for any change that will affect clients – well in place before you start to move things around!
That said, I assume from your short note that you have not done so. You may be playing defensive with clients, which is what tends to happen when we don’t have a proactive plan in place. Most people don’t like change, even when it is good for them. Change, by its nature, is “disruptive,” and people don’t like to be moved out of their comfort zones. I see this all of the time in my consulting practice. Some people would rather sit with the pain than take steps to make it better!
I suggest putting a communication plan in place. It’s never too late to do this. Create an FAQ about why you are making this change. Make sure the answers are slated to the clients’ best interests and needs. Circulate this via email and have staff use it in conversations with clients.
If you can create scenarios in black and white about how this change is positive for clients, do so. Showing them the savings over 1, 3 and 5 years could also be powerful.
It’s important to talk about this as an “evolution,” so clients don’t ask why you did not do this years ago! Say something like, “We continue to scan the market and identify the best ways to serve you. In the past our fee structure had worked well but the market is changing, and we are changing with it to ensure that our clients get the best possible options.”
Always frame change with the WIIFM for clients: “What’s in it for me?”
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995. In 2008, she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.