Capturing Opportunities to Show Your Value

Jan 17, 2012

Last week, I wrote about using your end-of-year review to look at your client’s estate plans and do a beneficiary check-up. It just makes sense that once a year or so you review the holdings and the plans of all you clients to avoid surprises in your book, both for you and for them.

As I reviewed the feedback both via LinkedIn and the emails, I wondered:  How many of you have a structured, systemized and consistent plan for your quarterly review meetings? Not a rough draft or an idea of what you want to cover, but a written agenda for topics of discussion with a timeline of how much time you’ll use to cover each topic and what materials you’ll be going over. I would suspect many of us do not have a clue what we are going to cover, other than the accounts’ performance, when a majority of our clients walk in the door.

Why Plan?
I think we all know this, but when you meet with a client (no matter the frequency), you have the best opportunity to re-enforce the value of your services in the planning process and showing your clients’ progress toward long-term goals.

You also have the ability to address any concerns or problems before they become big issues. You can discuss changes in circumstance and even find additional advisory assets to capture. And yet, most of us don’t create the systems in our offices to really capture one of the best opportunities we have to retain client assets, as well as grow.

Just setting up the appointment can take weeks.

Let’s take a simple example: Ask yourself, when do you think you would have all the materials necessary to conduct a comprehensive quarterly review for a top client? My guess is that you would have a pre-approved quarterly review kit from your platform provider or broker dealer, statements and any additional supporting documentation you may want to use within 3 – 4 weeks after the close of the quarter. Many of us compile the information, take a week or so to look at it and then begin scheduling the meetings.

If your clients are typical, there are anywhere from two to five different phone numbers to call, and possibly an additional number of emails you can try. By the time you actually get a date down on paper, it will possibly be two or three additional weeks out! What does this mean? When you get together, you end up discussing information that is most likely well over two months old.

From the client’s perspective
According to a recent PWC survey, “The client is cautious, smart, less trusting and loyal, and now demanding better service and clearer value.” There is nothing that will earn that trust and loyalty than an efficient, organized meeting with their advisor that does the following:

• Reconnects with the original plan. Start with the reasons they came to you and the progress you made together.
• Provides context. Paint the macro picture first, focus on the global and national events and how they have affected the economy and markets.
• Evaluates results. Put performance results in context of their progress to goals. Use the investment policy statements and plan documents to bring home your points.
• Makes recommendations. Here is your opportunity to address any changes (rebalancing, manager changes etc.) to the plan or the investment portfolio.
• Takes action. Introduce any additional solutions your firm offers, do the estate plan check up, ask for referrals etc. Set the next review meeting appointment.
• Follows up. Provide the client with a list of items that you reviewed and any work that you will be doing as a result of the meeting (with a timeline for completion).

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to be this organized. It starts with a checklist, an agenda and vendors that can help. Your broker dealer, study group or platform partners usually have most of the pre-approved content you would need to create a meeting like this. In fact, I will be co-hosting a webinar on January 30th at 4 PM EST featuring an economic update and outlook which will include meeting best practices and our Client Wealth Cycle toolkit. (Register Now) I think you will find the content useful in your review meetings and help you to get started toward more efficient meetings.

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John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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