Merry Christmas & the Client List

By Derek On December 19, 2011 Under Post


Man must be disciplined, for he is by nature raw and wild.”  - Immanuel Kant

This is probably the last post of the year. Christmas is approaching and I am taking a week and a half to goof off. Most of the clients are away this week already or will be by next week. I will be back early January refreshed, recharged and ready to rock. Now, let’s talk about discipline…

My Tool

The most important tool every day at work is not my computer, nor my telephone, nor even my Bloomberg terminal: it is my client list. A client list is more than a string of names that I am responsible for; it is my franchise and the substance of my day.

A sell side broker is responsible for certain client relationships the firm has. If the broker moves to another firm those clients might move with him – and they might not. It is a tricky thing. Clients deal with us for many reasons. (Clients who don’t deal with us also have many reasons!). One of those many reasons is the salesperson on the end of the phone. As I have said in many other posts on this blog, I can’t do my job without the support of research, trading and other departments as well. I may be the client’s main point of contact with my company but I am probably not the only reason he gives us business. I like to think I am – all salespeople will claim they are – but reality is more nuanced. I can be the smoothest talking salesperson on the street but without research it is always going to be a hard sell. And without trading capability I will probably get zero business. These things are good to keep in mind and as a salesperson you never want to say, “These are my clients,” or “My client told me today….” They aren’t your clients; they are the firm’s clients. To state otherwise is just not very professional.

A client list is composed by each sales person and he or she uses that list to call clients. Like many things with this job, there is a right way and a wrong way of doing this. A good client list reminds me of who I need to call. It reminds me of when I last called them. It also reminds me of what the client is interested in. The structure of my client list hasn’t changed in 15 years, either demonstrating it can’t be improved or that I am a dinosaur who can’t evolve. My list is three to four pages long. On average I will have about 20 – 25 clients that I call regularly. There will be many more who are on my email list, however.

Here is a good example of an everyday workable client list and is the format I use:

The list is an excel spreadsheet and across the top I have Client, Company, Tel No. and all the days of the week. Beneath each client name I have their email address and in the column next to their name I write their coverage specialty. Rick Shaw at Dipsy Doo, I can see with a glance covers all of Asia but not Japan. I won’t bother him with our latest upgrade of Olympus (7733 JP) in Japan due to the success of their extra long endoscopes. Such penetrating analysis would be a (painful) waste of his time. Often I will also put the assistant’s name and number under the client’s name if I have significant interaction with him or her. Moving down to the next client, Dick Israel Small at Sino Central, I see he only covers energy, mining and materials stocks. He won’t be interested in Olympus either but would probably like to hear about our new report on PetroChina (857 HK). I call him and we have a conversation. I record that as “Called.” This is important because later on in the week I will look back and see when we last spoke – or didn’t. With Joe King at BS Partners, he travels frequently and all I was able to do was leave a voicemail. Some clients think they know it all or are too busy to take calls and just want a “Bloomberg” message when appropriate. You can see I sent Noah Lott at Frederated a “BBG” Monday and Tuesday.

Men in Tights

A client list also gives your day structure and it is a good discipline. Without it you will forget to call clients, you may ignore others, and like an aging figure skater, you generally start to let things slip. A good salesperson has a good client list. This list can be physical or electronic. I like to print mine out but then I have been accused of being “old school” more than once. I print mine first thing Monday morning, write the date on top and use it all day every day. At the end of the week, hopefully most of the little boxes are full and I can sigh, pleased with a week’s work done well. Then I bin the thing with a satisfied flourish and head for the bar. With it I am Batman and invincible, without it I am just Robin without the leotards.

Print Friendly

Related Posts

  • No Related Posts

Add a comment

  • Avatars are handled by Gravatar
  • Comments are being moderated