Advisors all share the same No. 1 priority: their clients. There is nothing they want to avoid more than to look bad when getting in front of clients. To ensure that client review meetings run smoothly, they, along with their staff, go through numerous time-consuming steps that require attention to detail. Still, this is also a process where advisors commonly experience frustration and inefficiency.
In our recent webinar (watch recording here), we covered this topic in depth. Based on numerous surveys, 9 out of 10 advisors identify the client meeting process as the activity where they want to improve efficiency.
- Advisors cannot afford to screw it up. Being disorganized or erroneous when in front of clients can create distrust, convey incompetence, and ultimately lose clients.
- There are often many tasks and detailed steps involved, often involving several people and multiple systems, which requires tight coordination and communication.
- The average practice services 200-300 households. This equates to executing hundreds of meetings per year, which – when combined with the numerous tasks and required accuracy and attention to detail — results in the execution of client meetings being the highest percentage of staff consumption on an annual basis.
- The frequency by which other activities are performed often pale in comparison. (Hint: compare how many meetings you had last year with how many new clients you on-boarded or how many service requests you handled.)
Where do advisors commonly stumble?
- Reviewing previous meeting notes, recent activity and identifying key discussion points – The most time-consuming activity in meeting preparation is gathering information, reviewing from previous meetings and understanding all activity that occurred since the last meeting. Were all follow-up activities completed? Were there any unexpected service requests initiated by the client and were they handled? What topics need to be addressed during the meeting? Are there any opportunities to deepen the relationship and increase wallet share?
- Capturing and utilizing personalized client information – How well do you know your client? What are their likes/dislikes? What is their favorite beverage so you can make sure you have it available when they arrive? Are there any important “financial life events” such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces, retirements, etc. that you should know about? What is going on in their life that allows for conversation that with enhance your relationship — did they take a dream vacation, win an award, etc. This is a relationship business – the better you can gather and organize key information and discussion points, they better relationships you will build!
- Gathering and preparing meeting materials; are they current and correct? – There is often a lot of information to prepare for presentation to clients. Statements, charts, projections, analysis, updates to a financial plan, etc. It’s better be correct, professional in appearance, and easy for clients to understand. However, to achieve this entails a lot of work, numerous systems, and attention to detail. How can you make sure you are being thorough and accurate?
- Effective note taking – A common “bad habit” is the failure to promptly document thorough meeting notes. Most advisors “yellow-pad it” and often rush from one meeting to the next. Taking just a few minutes to organize and document meeting notes will not only improve the retention of information, but also save time when preparing for the next meeting with that client.
- Following through on action items and commitments promptly and accurately – It should go without saying, but you need to fulfill the promises you make!
A lot of these may seem like pure common sense problems to solve. However, if there are multiple advisors in your practice, minor lapses can quickly snowball into major issues. There are three stages of improvement:
Some of the basics, such as taking good meeting notes, or setting an agenda are no-brainers, and can easily be incorporated through some learning and discipline.