Clients want an advisor, not a friend; focus on driving the effectiveness and impact of your client reviews before you do anything else!
What are the takeaways?
- Preschedule all your reviews and put clients on a systematic schedule.
- Invite clients to co-create the agenda a few weeks in advance.
- Intentionally structure the conversation so “goals” are kept as the focal point.
- Provide an executive summary on the spot, before the client leaves.
We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of building personal relationships with clients, and holding intimate events, and wowing them with thoughtful and fancy gifts throughout the year, and reaching out to them on their birthdays, et cetera, et cetera, and we don’t spend enough time talking about the fact that when a client comes to you for advice or seeks out your services, the reality is not that they’re looking for a new friend, but that they’re looking for an expert who can help educate them, empower them, and help them coordinate their financial life.
So while it is important to focus on all the things I just said and build relationships with people on a personal level, because we know that people like to work with people who they enjoy spending time with and like, it’s even more important to ensure that you’re delivering what it is you’ve been hired to deliver. And by that I don’t mean the financial plan or the investment advisory services, i.e. the asset allocation tracking towards goals. By that I mean on an ongoing basis, are you delivering the kind of service, in other words review meetings and client reviews, that is completely aligned with your value proposition? If your value proposition is to educate and empower people, and make them feel like they have a handle on their financial life, and help them understand the difference between wealth management and investment management, are you actually delivering on that on an ongoing basis in your review meetings?
Remember that the review meetings are the opportunity for you to not only shine as an expert but allow the manifestation of your value proposition, of your mission. So what I would say to advisors is before you go about thinking about elevating your client marketing this year and your client service through surprise and delight gifts, I would actually focus all of your attention on ensuring that you are delivering the type of review meetings and ongoing guidance that really helps remind clients every time they speak to you of why they hired you. Because remember, you can have as many fun client event happy hours as you want, but the reality is is if clients aren’t feeling as if they have a handle on their financial life, if they aren’t feeling on an ongoing basis every single day like they are tracking towards their goals or at least have a mechanism for knowing that they’re tracking towards their goals, it’s very likely that you will lose those clients at some point in the near future as other advisors and other firms work to perfect that piece of the experience.
So just a couple of tips for you to think about as you work on solidifying the reviews this year. The first thing I want to say, and I’ve mentioned this on other podcasts before, so many review meetings are reactive and not proactive. In other words, the advisor has a administrative assistant or client service person reaching out to clients at the beginning of the month and trying to get them to come in for reviews. So the first step is to completely shift your thinking around how you’re scheduling reviews and how you actually run them. A client needs to know from the second they get onboarded into your organization that part of the catch or part of the commitment, rather, in working with you, is that they come in every six months from the anniversary of them becoming a client and that is your intentional time together, your professional intentional time, to just focus on talking about their plan, and them, and the economy, and the market, and whatever is worrying them and on their mind. So that’s the first thing.
Training clients to think differently about reviews, about how they’re held, why they’re held, how often they’re held is a game changer. If you are haphazard about the way you run review meetings, then clients are not going to see the value in them. And that whole idea of, hey, here’s our opportunity to show our value proposition in an intentional way completely falls by the wayside. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing is you want to engage your clients in the review before they’re even in the meeting with you. My best advice is have somebody on your team, rather than having an administrative assistant try to schedule a client for a review, have an administrative assistant send an agenda to a client a couple weeks before the meeting and say, “Hey, we want to co-create this agenda with you. Feel free to edit, update. There’s a section, there’s a column next to the agenda items for your notes and thoughts. Jot down anything that comes to mind within each of these categories and we’ll make sure we’re prepared to talk about them.” Then within a week, the client should give that back to the administrative assistant, administrative assistant hands it to you, Mr. or Mrs. Advisor, and suddenly you’re armed to have a powerful conversation in that review.
The third tip I’m going to give you is that the review meeting agenda should be very intentionally built. We want to ensure that on the agenda you are, number one, starting out by recapping the last session. So you’re anchoring the clients to the last meeting. They’re being reminded of maybe all the things that you’ve done for them that they didn’t know from the six months that you haven’t spoken to one another. They’re being reminded of whatever you guys talked about last time. Then we’re shifting into a conversation about just general updates on their life, what’s been on their mind, what’s happened to them, what’s happened to their kids, what are they excited about, what’s been the most frustrating thing they’ve gone through the last six months. And from that conversation, we’re then shifting into a reminder and a reinforcement of goals.
What we’re doing here is steering the conversation away from here’s your investment performance versus some blended benchmark that nobody understands anymore and we’re instead reminding them of the qualitative goals that they articulated at the beginning of the engagement. We’re asking them to make edits to those goals. We’re asking them to add or subtract, and we’re also asking them to think about all the things they said when they began the engagement.
It’s at this point, by the way, that we’re also reminding them of their risk tolerance. So we’re bringing the risk tolerance questionnaire in the review meeting every single review meeting with them. Because ultimately, this conversation does lead to, at some point, a conversation about portfolios and about investments, and this should be the fourth item on your agenda list after review of the prior meeting, life updates, goals. Then we get into the plan. And it’s at this point where you can remind them of the goals that they set, their risk tolerance at the time, and the fact that this portfolio is appropriate for them based on what they articulated. And now here’s their opportunity to talk about whether that no longer fits or is the case for them anymore. What you’re really doing with the review meeting agenda is working to coach behavior and get them to really understand what wealth management is versus investment management. And here’s where we have the manifestation of your value proposition. So that’s my tip for you on agenda, my third tip.
My fourth tip for you is the client should leave that meeting with two things, number one, knowing when the next review is. And number two, they should leave with an executive summary. The same way a client, a patient, rather, at a doctor’s office or if anyone’s gone to urgent care knows, the doctor walks you up to the front desk and they either dictate on the spot the to-dos for you and for the team internally, and you get a written summary when you leave that engagement, I’ll call it.
Same thing here. You are either teeing up a administrative assistant on your team if the meetings happening in person to quickly provide them with an executive summary with the date of the next review, their to-dos, your to-dos, and they’re physically getting that in their hand or getting a digital copy. Or if the meetings are being done on phone, you are quickly either transferring them to an administrative assistant, conferencing an administrative assistant in, or asking them to immediately call the client to provide that summary on the spot. This prevents a client from leaving and feeling like they’re not exactly sure what the to-dos are or forgetting what the to-dos are at the end of the meeting. And it anchors the client in remembering and reinforcing what you achieved together in that meeting.
I hope this is helpful. I only intended for this to be a five-minute webinar, podcast rather, but of course it is now going on 10 minutes. So I hope this was helpful. Definitely let me know if you start to utilize these four points. Otherwise, I will speak to you next week same place, same time. Take care.