11 Awesome Client Appreciation Event Ideas for Financial Advisors
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Client appreciation events are a way for financial advisors to express gratitude, build engagement, and make clients so happy that they tell their friends about you. A successful client appreciation event can create raving fans, which leads to more referrals. Sound good? Let’s dive in…
Why client appreciation is important?
Here’s the truth: if you don’t appreciate your clients, someone else will. Someone else will read The Ultimate Financial Advisor’s Guide to Getting More Clients, implement the ideas, and take your clients from you.
Client appreciation events are important because they set financial advisors up to get streams of referrals from a stronger and more loyal client base. They help boost your credibility, increase awareness of you and your brand, and give your clients a chance to see you in a different light.
A client who feels appreciated is more likely to stick with you. You might feel like you’re holding onto clients with a periodic phone call, but it will eventually come back to haunt you. If there’s a down market, you want the client who continues to consolidate accounts and invest more assets. You won’t get that from someone who doesn’t know you or trust you. An impersonal phone call or birthday card won’t cut it.
Speaking of birthday cards, I got my auto insurance online, and I’ve never met the agent… even though I was shocked to find out she lives nearby. I get a birthday card from her every year, along with a nice little coupon to a local yogurt shop (which I never use, by the way). While her birthday card definitely keeps me aware of her, a client appreciation event would make me much less likely to drop her when I find a better deal.
Here are some best practices to ensure your event is a success:
Get the timing right.
Ask your clients and get a feel for when they are free. For example, financial advisors like to throw holiday events because December tends to be a slow month for them. However, it’s usually the busiest time of year for clients. Make sure you carefully consider the date and time of your event in order to maximize attendance. This will help your dollars stretch a little more.
Know your clients’ demographics and interests.
Later in this post, I’m going to give you several ideas, but no single event will be suitable for everyone. Take a look at your current client base and see if there are any patterns. Do they have shared interests? Do they even like golf? Can you segment them into different groups? For example, a happy hour event won’t work well with families, and a formal client base might not appreciate a tailgate BBQ.
Don’t try to pitch or sell.
It’s just not the time or place. A client appreciation event is about showing gratitude and building loyalty. The only thing you’re “selling” is how great it is to be your client. However, that does not mean you should let valuable opportunities slip away. If someone explicitly asks you about something business-related, try to get a time for an appointment to discuss it later.
You don’t want to bring up financial planning or insurance during an event because you don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable or sold. You could have the greatest event in the world, but even a shred of a pitch will have clients feel like it was a slimy sales event. Have faith that the topic will come up eventually, because it always does. Again, let the client initiate the conversation.
Always allow family and friends.
You want your clients to feel comfortable. I’ve found that one of the reasons why people don’t attend client appreciation events is because they don’t want to hang around a bunch of people they don’t know. Make it abundantly clear to everyone that they can bring guests. It makes it more comfortable, turns it into a group outing, and maximizes your chances of getting referrals.
Don’t spend a lot of time with one person.
Move around, shake hands, and mingle. You want to make everyone feel welcome and worthy of your attention. You do that by giving them your attention in the first place. They were nice enough to come, so you should be nice enough to acknowledge them and talk with them.
Have tons of business cards handy.
Not having business cards on me at all times was one of the biggest mistakes I made. Don’t make the same mistake I did. You never know who will ask for one, and you want to have them at the ready. This is especially true if your clients bring lots of friends and family. Also have a pen or two in your pocket to write down any pertinent information.
Give a reminder or invite at each client meeting.
Assuming that you have your events planned out, you can invite each client to the appropriate client appreciation event. It encourages them to take advantage of what you offer outside the office.
Think about adding an “events” page to your website.
This is an awesome tip, because it lets everyone know that you have events and it gives your website visitors a peek of what it’s like to become your client. Very few financial advisors have an “events” page, and it’s another small thing that can give you an edge. But here’s the extra-valuable tip: keep your old events on the “events” page. Don’t delete them. Instead, push them to the bottom and say “previous events”. This reinforces the image that you’re here to stay and are committed to continuously providing excellent customer service.
Client appreciation event ideas
Without further ado, here are some client appreciation event ideas that you can put into practice:
1. Tastings (wine, beer, champagne, etc.)
If your clients are wine-lovers (isn’t the word sommelier? I’m not a wine guy…) then have a wine tasting. For full and complete disclosure, I have never hosted a wine tasting party so I can’t go into too much detail, but I do know a firm that consistently has them, so they must be working.
This particular firm adheres to a strict budget for the wine (since it can get expensive) and suggests that guests bring a bottle with them, in order to get costs down. They usually have themes for their parties and focus on either “reds” or “whites” or “wines of Australia”. They also spend a few hundred bucks on bread, cheese, fruit, and shrimp. The budget works out to be around $30-60 per person.
2. Ice cream social
This is good for the summer. When I was in college, the university used to throw ice cream socials for wealthy donors all the time, and boy did they show up! These things were packed, so I figured they would work just as well for financial advisor clients, and they do. They’re more budget-friendly and are just as fun.
Make sure that you have a wide variety of ice cream. The old staples like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry are good, but I’m talking about healthier options too, like those with less sugar.
You can have games and raffles at your ice cream social, too. There are a bunch of ways to make it a cool event, and easy on the wallet.
3. Cooking classes
These are always nice. Around Valentine’s Day, you can throw something like, “Cooking Class for Men: How to Make a Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner”. Private cooking classes range from around $70-100 per person, but can be well worth it for your top clients. A lot of private cooking classes require a minimum number of people (usually around ten), so it’s a more intimate setting.
The Valentine’s Day cooking class was just an idea, but you can choose between other themes like handmade pasta, knife skills, seafood, Italian, Spanish tapas, and French cuisine. Take your time to shop around to see which chef can offer you the biggest bang for your buck. Here are some things you want to ask:
4. Golf clinic or event
Golf has always been a favorite pastime among financial advisors. It’s engaging and entertaining. All you have to do is get a few of your best clients and their friends together and go golfing. Or you could get a golf pro to provide some lessons. I will tell you this – never throw a round for your clients. If you’re not truly playing to win, they will know. If you’re a decent golfer, you’ll get their respect because they’ll see that you know what you’re doing.
Plan ahead to make sure that your golf outing is organized and paid for in advance. Once you’re playing, don’t talk about business unless your clients or prospects bring it up first. The same thing goes for drinking or smoking cigars – don’t do it until they do it first. The golf course can be your best friend because it’s a laid-back atmosphere that makes clients and prospects more comfortable with you.
5. Sporting events
Sporting events can get a little pricey, so make a judgment call here. If one of your clients is a die-hard fan of your local team, it’s a no-brainer. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. Not for a so-so fan at least. It’s got to really mean something and be special to the client.
Most sports teams will give you a discount if you buy in bulk or “sell” (buy them yourself) enough tickets. If your local sports team is in the championship game, a cheaper option is to have a viewing party at a local restaurant. The Super Bowl is practically a freebie every year, so take advantage of it.