From the August 2009 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Find the Fit First

Bill Morrissey has developed a very tightly focused niche. But rather than doctors, business executives or sports stars, Sound Financial Planning will take anyone as a client: as long as they'll pay his minimum planning fee, and they buy into to his comprehensive life planning approach, no exceptions. He feels so strongly about client buy-in that he won't even start managing their investment portfolios until they've gone through his comprehensive financial life planning process--which can take up to a year.

To make sure each and every client is a good fit, Morrissey screens each prospective client himself over the phone, and then in an office visit, if they seem disposed to life planning. In that first meeting, he presents them with a 14-page "Invitation to a Successful Financial Planning Relationship." In his view, the success of any financial plan, no matter how well-designed, is in large part dependent on how well the clients understand their relationship with their advisor: exactly what their advisor will and won't do for them, the responsibility that client has in the relationship and what role they need to play in their own successful financial future. So he devotes the entire first meeting to helping them understand just that. Only if they do will he sign them up as clients.

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