Keeping Clients In Up Markets

Monday, May 26, 2014 15:58
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Keeping Clients In Up Markets

Tags: client communication | client communications | client education | client loyalty | client retention | client satisfaction | diversification | hehavioral finance

I'm frustrated. I lost three long- term clients this year. I'm not used to losing clients. They all had the same reason for leaving: they thought their 2013 returns should have been higher. 

I believe in the wisdom of diversification. I don't believe in market timing. Without a crystal ball, research has proven over and over again that sticking to a defined strategy is the way to go. 
My team works hard at maintaining efficient asset allocations to produce maximum returns based on each client's specific risk tolerance. On top of that, we do everything possible to be tax efficient, including tax loss harvesting, location optimization and tax lot identification. 
I've educated my clients, teaching them about diversification, the dangers of market timing and the value of a long term outlook. I did this in one-on-one meetings, webinars, seminars, newsletters, emails and quarterly letters. I thought they all got it. Maybe I should be happy with 99%. But I'm not. 
Why did my clients not get a 25 percent return last year? It's simple - their portfolios were diversified with bonds, international investments, real estate and commodities. 
When the market crashed in 2008, I lost a few clients. They were all fairly new clients and said the same thing, "I can't afford to lose any more." Although I wasn't happy with that, I understood. They hadn't been clients long enough to trust the strategy. What puzzles me is that the clients who recently left had been through 2008 as well as the recovery with me. 
I guess it's the old fear and greed cycle. When the market crashed, these clients lost less money than their friends. When the market had a great year, they didn't capture all of the gain. And that, I believe, was what led to their dissatisfaction. 
We can use risk tolerance questionnaires, write investment policy statements, and talk to our clients on a regular basis, but we can never truly know how any particular client will react in any given market. I'm not convinced that they even know themselves. 
So, I am left frustrated, not only because I lost clients, but because I fear for what they will do to their own financial well-being in chasing returns. 
Is there a way to prevent this? Obviously, I don't know. 
 

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