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Financial Planning > Tax Planning

How I Track My Clients’ Needs

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One of the greatest challenges a solo practitioner has is keeping up with all of the things that need to be done in the practice. In this post, I’ll share a few of mine and perhaps you’ll weigh in on some of the issues you’re facing.

As an independent RIA, I perform two primary services: financial planning and asset management. I charge a fee for financial planning and a percentage of the assets I manage for the latter. Moreover, about 90% of those who engage me to create a financial plan also pay a retainer fee for annual updates. Approximately 60% of my clients engage me for both services, 35% for asset management only, and 5% for planning only. I say this only to lay the foundation for my topic this week. How do you keep up with all of the tasks which must be done? 

When I create a financial plan, I gather an extensive amount of information. I even compare the client’s Schedule A from their prior year tax return to the data in my planning software, just to make sure my numbers are in the ballpark. Of course, this assumes that the current year’s income is similar to the income on their tax return. Once the plan is completed there is often a laundry list of items to be addressed. In addition, some of the items require the services of other professional, and so I must be able to track everything that needs to be done, who else needs to be involved, etc.

When you multiply this by the number of clients I have that are paying me to create and update their plan each year, it can be a bit overwhelming at times. I must also keep up with all other business-related tasks as well. This is one of the reasons I’ve been discussing outsourcing a portion of my asset management. It’s not that I am so busy that I have no free time. It’s more about keeping track of things in the most efficient manner.

Thus far, I have been using ACT to track the planning tasks for each client. On a firm level, I have a spreadsheet that lists all financial planning clients which includes:

  • who pays the retainer fee
  • when the amount of their fee is due
  • which plan updates have been completed this year
  • which updates remain to be completed 

Fortunately, I have been able to keep pace, but I also believe there is a better way to track all of the tasks. In any event, providing clients with the service they expect is at the heart of keeping clients happy. And that’s exactly what it’s all about. 

Thanks for reading and have a great week!