Another benefit of an online presence is the unspoken credibility of being quoted in a publication or recognized with industry awards, Sun said.
If an existing client is happy, it reflects — among other things — that your initial and continual communications are well received, she said. A comprehensive communication plan should include a written financial plan, a mapped-out investment plan, a scheduled-out communication plan and an ongoing daily social media plan, "reminding clients of who we are and what we do."
For his part, Andy Seth, founding partner of LotusGroup Advisors, said that "advisors can be formulaic about building trust."
Building blocks for trust
● Educate your clients first. Teach them about the value of your services to help them link their financial decisions with their value systems.
● Be as transparent as possible. Sharing fee structures, educational and employment background and your own values and goals helps clients feel comfortable and know what to expect from you.
● Don't overpromise. Avoid the risk of under-delivering.
● Stay involved. A good advisor/client relationship has similar qualities to a good friendship. Be readily available for meetings and client phone calls, sending regular personalized emails and hosting client events
● Listen. Let clients know you understand and empathize with them before offering a solution to their needs.
● Provide next steps. When an advisor has a planning process in place, clients know what to expect at each step of the way. This helps simplify the process for them and can ease feelings of uncertainty and stress.
— Source: Kevin J. Meehan, CFP, regional president at Wealth Enhancement Group
Seth subscribes to the so-called "Trust Equation," which states that "trust equals credibility plus reliability plus intimacy, divided by self-interest." He explained how he interprets the variables in his practice:
- Credibility: "This can refer to demonstrable items such as professional certifications or civic leadership and engagement," Seth said. "Community involvement shows that I help people on my own for free."
- Reliability: "There is a wave of emotions that prospects go through," he noted. "It comforts them to see that we make commitments and deliver."
- Intimacy: "The more you show intimacy — for example, sharing your interest in social causes — the more they respond in kind," Seth said. "Understand that [in the advising relationship] you're asking them to be more vulnerable than you."
- Self-interest: "This needs to be low," he advised. "The worst self-interest is conflict of interest. For example, how do you respond if the client takes funds from the portfolio to buy real estate?"
Seth advises advisors, "Demonstrate how high your numerators are and how low your denominator is, and you've built high trust."
— By Deborah Nason, special to CNBC.com