Why you might not want to send a holiday gift to clients this year

Posted by on

It’s that time again. Time for laughter, time for cheer. And along with it comes the stress of deciding what to send to clients this holiday season. While it’s always important to recognize clients, even the most thoughtful thank you might be overlooked in the crush of holiday gift giving. After all, how many gift baskets can an office or a household absorb in December?

BKD Wealth Advisors, the Springfield, Mo., wealth management firm and a Gregory FCA client, is a big believer in gift giving, not just during the holidays but strategically throughout the year to not only thank clients, but also to demonstrate the firm’s ability to listen, connect, and empathize with clients. In fact, The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted BKD’s gift-giving strategy as an example of how other financial services firms can make emphatic statements. “It’s not about giving extravagant gifts … most presents cost less than $50,” BKD’s President Jack Thurman told the Journal. “People would smell it if you were just throwing around money. But it’s about listening and being thoughtful.”

Key to BKD’s strategy is connecting compliant gift giving with some important aspect of a client’s life or aspirations. “We work with our advisors to uncover client passions, aspirations, and interests. We want to know what is most important to them and then reflect and support their ambitions in a demonstrative and meaningful way,” says Thurman. BKD incorporates that strategy into its client relations program, urging advisors to actively connect the dots between a client’s personal passions and the firm’s intent to help them reach new milestones in their life plans.

For instance, for a client who is passionate about mountain climbing, BKD sent the gift of a book written by a noted mountain climber. It wasn’t sent during the holiday season to distinguish it from the onslaught of year-end, more forgettable gifts.

For charitable clients, consider donations randomly throughout the year to the client’s charity of choice. It’s another way to say that an advisor is listening, and that they’re in it to help clients achieve what’s most important in their life. Philanthropy is significant to many high net worth investors. Studies show it’s more than just simple charity. Affluent Americans often define themselves by the amount of their giving and the charities they choose to associate with. Those advisors who understand that fact can often position themselves as a partner in a client’s financial future and better aligned with their ultimate life plan.

So this holiday, after the chocolates are gone, the wine has been drunk, and the other incidentals are consumed, stop and think: Are you recognizing and thanking clients in a meaningful way? If not, consider using gift giving as a strategic complement to client service and relationship building throughout 2014.