A Sample Five-Paragraph Holiday Letter
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This is the time when you are preparing an end-of-year/holiday letter for your clients. Unfortunately, fewer than 1% of them are going to derive any meaning from it. Use this template to create a useful holiday letter with some pizzazz.
This article contains a template with five paragraphs. Here’s a guide, paragraph by paragraph, along with a sample letter you can use as a model.
There’s no clearer way to say it: Financial advisor content is the only known non-pharmaceutical cure for insomnia. Write something invigorating, or don’t write it all. The first sentence of paragraph one should contain a word that begins with “x.” As I’ve discussed before, nothing says it like “x.”
Example of paragraph one:
Exuberance is a word that people have used to describe this year’s economic sentiment. But in this letter, I’m calling attention to not just market movements but to all of the xenomorphic events of 2021 worthy of review.
Here you want to ask them for feedback. This is called a “pattern interrupt.” Again, it’s a way to avoid putting them to sleep.
Most financial advisors would rather serve on jury duty for half the year than ask a client for feedback. You can take it for what it is or ignore them; but if they’re paying you $12,000 a year, you owe it to them to at least ask.
Example of paragraph two:
Before we get into the 2021 recap, there is an important question that I need to ask. It’s one that I feel can never be asked enough.
How am I doing?
What was your experience working with me?
What was the most vital thing you got out of this experience?
How could I improve?
If you’d like to provide your response in the confidential survey, please click here (insert the hyperlink; you can use SurveyMonkey which is free). I am also open to any free-form comments if you’d like to provide them to me directly (insert hyperlink to your contact form on your website).
Provide a three-sentence economic summary of 2021. You do this to establish some credibility and give them a point of reference for what may lie ahead.
Three sentences, Grillo? You’re nuts, you say.
To which I respond:
- Brevity of expression shows the clarity with which you grasp the concepts.
- People would rather have a tooth extracted without lidocaine than listen to you try to show off what you know about the economy
Key points only; here’s an example:
I would give the 2021 economy a solid B+. While 2021 Fed measures were supportive of market appreciation, the recently expressed intention of the Fed to taper foretells of volatility and a possible correction. What is a far greater concern however is the inflationary pressures resulting from multiple rounds of stimulus as well as supply shortages and I expect these forces to restrict personal consumption expenditures sharply in 2022.
How’s that? I passed the CFA level one of the first try, by the way.
It then took me five more attempts to get through the subsequent levels. Apparently, the beginner’s luck wore off.
In this paragraph, you want to inspire the reader to take actions that will benefit them in the year to come. It’s like the self-help section of Barnes and Noble. You’ll want to use a bulleted list to make it easier for them to scan.
Example of paragraph four:
I encourage you to reflect upon these concepts as we move into the new year:
- As I anticipate market uncertainty in 2022, I will follow the long-term plan that we have established based upon your personal risk tolerance. I monitor this actively and advise you to refrain from buying or selling regardless of what you are hearing on the news.
- If there have been major changes to your life status (marriage, divorce, new dependents, etc.) please notify me so that we can discuss re-evaluating your risk tolerance by year end.
- On an annual basis, it is prudent to check the beneficiaries listed on all major investment accounts.
- As tax season approaches, please gather and store into a file the documents you are likely to need as they become available.
In the last paragraph, you want to evoke emotion and end the letter with a bang. Revisit the purpose of what you do and make them feel happy dappy about being your client. If possible, include pictures and a video.
Pull on the heart strings a leeeetle bit here.
Example of paragraph five:
I recently fostered a stray cat in our home and the experience served as a reminder to me of the extent to which we as a community, and by that I mean all members of it, rely on each other more than we realize on a day to day basis.
I’d like to hope that the work we’ve done together has equipped you to achieve your mission whether it be serving others around you or simply being better able to care for those you hold dear.
With the spirit of service in mind, I want to thank you for letting me be a part of your lives. My hope is that in the year to come I can make an even bigger contribution to your world and the wellbeing of those around you.
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a marketing consultant who helps investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms fight the tendency to scatter meaningless clichés on their prospects and bore them as a result. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor.
Any statements made by the author should not be interpreted as financial or economic advice. Nothing should be interpreted as a forward-looking statement or prediction of any sort.