It is supposedly a truism that in a group of thirty people, at least two will share the same birthday. I have been witness to this anecdotally, but how accurate it is over a scientifically large sample is unclear.
What is unequivocally accurate is that a birthday is, by definition, the most important day in one’s life. It seems like it should be worthy of some recognition.
When I was a financial advisor, there were diverse attitudes among my peers as to the importance of acknowledging client birthdays.
Although I never formally tracked what other consultants did over the years, the subject would periodically come up for discussion, sometimes in division meetings. I was always surprised to be in the minority, having as part of my modus operandi a policy to at least try to get in touch with clients on their anniversary of entering the world. The commitment to do this was one I followed for almost all of my time in the financial services business.
There would be exceptions, as with almost any policy. If the birthday was on a weekend, I might leave a phone message on the Friday before. If it turned out a client was away, such as on vacation, or at a conference, I might or might not leave a message. Of course, there were times when leaving a message was the practical choice; in later years, this might be reinforced with an email. There were a limited number of cases, usually in connection with aging, where at some point a client did in fact ask me not to bother contacting for birthdays. (Keep in mind such calls were not intended for business-related purposes, and so were not to be substitutes for servicing contacts. As well, there could be other client events, such as a child birth or a move, which could generate a reason to give a call.)
The vast majority of clients, if I did actually get to speak with them, appreciated my effort. At times they were surprised I could ‘remember’. The conversation might be short, or it might become more involved in their plans for the day (such as, looking forward to my chocolate cake!), or beyond to what was going on with them or their family. To me the most important aspect was the good feeling of making them feel good that I, at least, was taking the time to provide a verbal pat on the back. Such calls were clearly a win-win, enhancing the personal side of the client relationship.
I gather that some consultants who didn’t care for this approach might, primarily with larger asset clients, send a card or gift. A large percentage seemed to make little or no effort at all.
Indeed, now that I’m no longer in the business, my own advisor hasn’t bothered to try to call on my two birthdays which have passed. While, from the client side, this is hardly the end of the world insofar as our relationship, his lack of effort doesn’t raise him in my estimation either.
Remember me, remember me, when I have gone away
Remember that I lived and died, as you will, too, some day
If I can write these few short lines, it will not be in vain
If, after I am dead and gone, you still recall my name
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