Financial Advisor Newsletters Overview: In addition to electronic social media, newsletters are an increasingly popular and effective device for professionals in various fields (medicine, dentistry and accounting, to name just a few) to deepen existing client relationships and to develop new ones. Accordingly, both financial advisors and financial planners should consider writing newsletters for the same purpose. A key factor in client satisfaction is the frequency of contact between the financial advisor and the client, and a newsletter can be an effective means of leveraging your time, reaching out to your entire client simultaneously, as well as placing in their hands a tangible marketing tool that can be passed along to prospects who can expand your book of business.
For a financial advisor (or sales assistant) with a firm grounding in desktop publishing, creating a newsletter can be a relatively simple exercise, especially once you have identified or developed your preferred template. Also note that newsletters can be distributed both in physical printed form and e-mailed to clients who prefer to receive such communications electronically, the latter saving you printing and postage costs, as well as increasing the opportunities for them to pass your newsletter along to other readers. As with using social media, however, financial advisors should be aware of the regulatory and firm specific compliance rules regarding what can and cannot be said in their newsletters. See the article on social media for details.
Best Practices for Financial Advisor Newsletters: The best financial advisor newsletters (which may be weekly, monthly or quarterly, based on what the financial advisor deems appropriate), according to a report in The Wall Street Journal ("Keys to Making the Write Investments," September 19, 2011), have several features in common:
- They present some generic investing or planning ideas that are applicable to a wide variety of clients and client situations.
- They offer a commentary on recent market or financial industry trends, focusing on the relevance to clients.
- They try to make a personal connection with the readers, through general interest articles not specifically related to investing or the financial advisor's practice.
Regarding the third point, some suggestions are to offer recipes, amusing anecdotes and/or personal news about the financial advisor, his or her staff, and clients and clients' families. One financial advisor quoted in the WSJ article, for example, included a photo of a 73 year old client who had competed in a triathlon.
The longtime quarterly Write on the Money issued by Hudson City Savings Bank is a model example. It is mailed to customers and available at all branches. The fall 2011 issue included these articles, in addition to a short commentary from the CEO on the importance of the first article below:
- Checking Accounts: Get Paid Instead of Paying the Bank
- Don't Let Financial Fights Ruin Your Marriage
- Best Chance for a Free Frequent-flier Award Ticket
- Compare Product Features and Reviews (suggests a website)
- Does Your Car Smell Funny? An Odd Odor Often Signals Trouble
- Bank Accounts Are Changing in the U.S.: What You Need to Know
- Did You Know That... (smaller homes, electromagnetic radiation and headaches, underage drinking)
- Beware! (heat-induced headaches, storing photos on Facebook, mouth rinses, running injuries)
- New Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights
- Fish with the Lowest Levels of Contaminants
- Beware of New Extra Hotel Charges
- Health Protection While Traveling
- Very Useful Websites (gardening, allergies, boating, baseball)
- Inheritance Hijackers: The thieves are likely to be family members
- Cash for Your Clutter (yard sale tips)
- Bedbugs Are Back: How to Protect Yourself
Each article is followed by a citation of the source.
Note, however, that Hudson City has chosen to outsource editing, design and production of Write on the Money to an outside communications firm. In turn, Hudson City and its communications firm utilize editorial content provided by Boardroom Inc., publishers of the various Bottom Line newsletters that similarly pull together short news items from various sources. According, the content within Write on the Money is largely recycled from these Boardroom Inc. publications, and its layout also echoes the latter.
Regulatory and Compliance Strictures on Financial Advisor Newsletters: As noted in the article on using social to reach clients and prospects, financial advisors must take care to ensure that:
- Recommendations of securities, where allowed, meet the suitability standard
- They comply with their firms' policies on supervising, monitoring and archiving financial advisor newsletters
Accordingly, financial advisors should be sure that they vet their newsletters with the appropriate compliance and risk management personnel in their firms, starting with the branch compliance manager or branch manager.