For an organisation providing professional services, trust is the the single most important attribute for first acquiring and then nurturing an ongoing relationship with your client.
Trust is fundamental to ensure that you remain relevant, it will differentiate you from other competitors in the market and at the most beneficial level it will increase your chances of your clients recommending you to their friends and family.
Trust can also act as a cozy layer of welcomed protection as you wrap yourself in the benefits of client loyalty if and when your industry’s shit should royally hit the fan.
Right now the financial services industry is once again under speculation as some of the big (and small) players are hauled over the coals by the Royal Commission.
Providers of financial services will now once again have to claw back the trust that has been damaged by the ‘bad eggs’ that operate within this industry.
If you run a financial services organisation – then it’s time to strap on that communications hat and prepare for combat.
Now more than ever, it is essential for your organisation to keep lines of communication open with your clients. Be transparent. Be authentic. Don’t baffle clients with terms and advice that they don’t understand. Answer their questions. Be honest.
Whatever you do, don’t hide. Approach this head on with positive and honest messaging.
Client newsletters, social media pages, client events should all be activated as channels to keep your clients in the loop.
NB One thing we wouldn’t recommend is jumping too high upon any pedestal with your messaging, the Commission has a long way to go and as we know from history – every kennel can potentially house some fleas.
The good news is, that if you are one of the genuinely good eggs in the financial services industry and your clients genuinely and intrinsically trust you as a person and trust your organisation’s brand, you stand well to weather this storm.
Although, how do you go about rebuilding trust back into the process of acquiring new clients?
According to a global study in 2015 by the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB), in conjunction with the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA), Australians are twice as likely to turn to family and friends for information (41%) on financial matters and planning as they are to turn to a professional financial planner (23%).
The survey found that as well as relying less on planners and websites for financial information compared to people in other countries, 70% of Australians did not know who to trust when it came to arranging financial matters, compared to 66% globally.
So how do we convince people who don’t know you to trust you?
Here are some suggestions:
Online reviews are published by real people so they generally hold a lot more credibility than testimonials published within an organisations marketing collateral. Facebook, Google and LinkedIn are all relevant channels that Financial Service clients would have exposure to.
People connect with people. While a brand can build up a trusted reputation over time, it’s the people in your organisation right now that need to convince your clients that they are trustworthy.
If people have an inherent and genuine comprehension of what you do, they are in a much stronger position to trust whether you are telling the truth or not.
The more people know about your organisation, the services that you offer and how you differ from other organisations in your industry, the better.
Honestly, people won’t care about all your bells and whistles if they don’t understand how you can ultimately make their life better.
Show that your team are educated, qualified and have the professional expertise to provide financial advice.
If your organisation is centred around a solid set of admirable values – communicate them and live them. And this does not stop at adding a page to your website that lists your company values.
This means, if you say you are honest and communicate in plain English – do that. You will be amazed at how many organisations don’t. If you say you are ambitious and motivated for success, demonstrate that ambition by applying for industry awards. Etc. etc.
Genuinely immerse your organisation and the people within it, in community initiatives that will allow for positive brand alignment.
Word of warning: If you’ve never contributed to the community perhaps don’t just start throwing your sponsorship cash towards all of the charity balls pretending you’ve always been there! Be smart and strategic in your approach to this.
Trust is something that is earned over time, however it is not too late to start building it. Your organisations communication strategy will play a large role in building and maintaining the trust between your organisation and your client. The investment into smart strategy here is definitely not to be underestimated.
Jane Hillsdon is the Principal Consultant of Dragonfly Marketing. She works with professional services to help then grow their relevant connections, create influence and ultimately grow.