Discussing retirement is complicated. Its a subject rife with acronyms, which are mostly understood fully by those in the industry. The challenge is overcoming such obstacles to effectively communicate with clients.
That can be accomplished by avoiding industry jargon, no matter whos on the other end of the phone, J.J. McKinney said Monday during a workshop at the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries annual conference at National Harbor, Md. Using acronyms can confuse a client, he said, and might be viewed as condescending. Know your audience and their state of mind, said McKinney, COO at Retirement Strategies, Inc. in Augusta, Ga., and one of three industry experts who used role playing to discuss best practices for communicating the often murky topics related to retirement.
Selecting the best medium of communication is important, said Adam Pozek, partner and plan design expert at DWC ERISA Consultants in Salem, N.H. Bad news should be delivered in person or on the phone, he said. Email works for technically astute clients, but isnt the best form of communication for those who are less computer savvy. Participants are not made equal, clients are not made equal, added Yannis Koumantaros, managing director of client engagements at Spectrum Pension Consultants in Tacoma, Wash.
Problems with email
Email poses some problems, McKinney warned, like misspellings and misused words. Prior to sending it, he suggested reading an email out loud and having another person proofread it. Always review, review, review, McKinney said. Emails should be brief and have a clear focus, he added. Streamline your communications and stick to the point, McKinney said. Dont rely on spellcheck, Pozek added, and reply to all is not always your friend.
Keeping all parties involved in a project informed is also critical. If working with another adviser, Pozek said, they can help deliver less-than-favorable news to a client and also share the credit for positive outcomes. Perhaps the most important thing is respecting everyone and their time, McKinney said. Arriving late to a meeting sends a message that actually dives pretty deep, he said. Thats why you should always call to let a client know if youre running late, Pozek added.
Communication doesnt always have to be formal, Pozek said, and a gesture such as sending a client a birthday card reinforces their value. It shows that you care, he said.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Employee Benefit Adviser content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access