When they enter the office, they find a warm, friendly, smiling receptionist….my wife. As they are ushered into my office, she offers them something to drink. In my office, we engage in some small talk for about 5-10 minutes.
After that, I begin to ask them a series of questions. I’m trying to get the heart of the matter, “What’s driving your decision to meet with me?”
Once I have a better understanding of their situation, I tell them a little bit about my practice and how it differs from other companies. The content of this depends on who they currently work with on their finances.
For example, if they are with a very large firm, it’s quite possible that they are not getting the attention they desire. In any event, after this, we adjourn to the conference room where my computer is linked to the plasma TV. I then demonstrate, for example, how the level of withdrawals, coupled with the risk in a portfolio, has a dramatic effect on their terminal wealth. For instance, an annual withdrawal of $50,000 may be safe, but $100,000 is not. This is purely hypothetical, but the point is to show them how I can determine a prudent level of spending for a client to assure a high probability of not running out of money.
Before they leave, I have them fill out a questionnaire which I’ve named “What’s Important to You.” After they leave, I score the form to see if they are looking for the things which I provide. I then send them an e-mail (I may change this and leave it for a second in-person meeting) with the results of the questionnaire. If they score high, we might be a good fit.
What I am trying to do is create a consistent process for the first meeting. I find that if I am comfortable with how to proceed, the stress level is much lower.