There are plenty of reasons advisors don’t actively pursue relationship reviews with clients.

When conditions are bad, advisors think, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

When the need for more business isn’t obvious, we think, “My clients know what I do for them.” Or, “I already have all their money.”

How to Conduct a Relationship Review

Everyone needs new sales and new clients, and many clients have gaps in their retirement plans and personal protection arrangements. It can be easier to find opportunities by improving the service you provide for your current clients than by prospecting to find fresh clients.

(Related: 9 Ways to Respond to ‘Let Me Think About It’)

A relationship review should be conducted face-to-face. For accounts for couples, the review should include both of the spouses or partners.

Why? Because you want a relationship with both in case one predeceases the other. You also want to avoid the client saying,  “Good idea. Let me ask my spouse about it and I’ll get back to you.”

The review should be at a location convenient to the client, so they don’t put off scheduling the meeting. Your office is ideal, because every piece of data, form or sheet of paper is easily accessible.

The meeting should have a purpose, specifically to review your clients’ progress toward their goals.

Where Does the New Business Come From?

Our story so far: You’re meeting with your clients.

You’re reviewing their long-term goals, asking if anything has changed.

You’re showing where your clients were at the beginning of the year and where they are now.

You’re putting this in context of a plan describing what they need to reach their goals. You have data at your fingertips in case they want to drill down. So where does the business come from?

1. I have ideas, but I like everything you’ve got. You present a great new idea that fills a hole in their retirement savings and personal protection arrangements. You explain you like everything they’ve already got with you. This will require fresh money. You stop talking.

2. Has your other advisor given you a review recently? When was that? How are your other insurance, annuity and investment arrangements doing over there? You know they have a relationship with a competitor. You are laying the groundwork for consolidating them with you.

3. Tell me about your retirement plan assets at work. They likely have a 401(k). They may also have deferred compensation, restricted stock or a company stock purchase plan. Some of this might be transferrable over now (or someday).

4. Did you know this relationship review can include assets and policies held away? It’s a compelling reason for them to share lots of data with you. You can include these holdings in their overall asset allocation, allowing you to indirectly advise on them. You are now one step closer to making the case for transferring them in.

5. Did you know we can look “under the hood” of your mutual funds and variable annuities, looking for the risk of concentrated positions? Your clients might think they are diversified because they own many mutual funds, along with a variable annuity. What if the managers of all of the funds, and of the funds inside the variable annuity, have all gone after the same hot stocks?

6. Is there money you advise on? (1) Your client might sit on the finance committee at a local religious institution, alumni association or museum. That organization might have a foundation or endowment. In many cases, the client may help to interview prospective future money managers. Can you get your firm’s offerings into consideration?

7. Is there money you advise on? (2) Your client might help aging parents invest their savings to supplement the parents’ fixed income in retirement. The parents’ objective might be capital preservation. Bank CDs might be the only vehicle the parents have ever considered. You might be able to offer alternatives consistent with the parents’ goal of capital preservation.

8. Do you have any friends who…Complain about their advisor? Your clients might know someone who says the advisor never calls. A friend might have an advisor who was reassigned. The friend might not have connected with the new guy. The friend might be unhappy with an advisor’s fee structure. You would be interested in talking with the friend.

9. Do you have any friends who…Are unhappy with the returns they’ve been getting in the market? Plenty of people choose to invest on their own, outside of arrangements that give them any protection against market volatility. When investment markets are volatile or start to move sideways, some independent investors might realize that investing isn’t as easy as it looks. They might not be willing to put in the attention needed. You would be interested in talking with those friends, too.

10. Do you have any friends who…Will be retiring in the next six months? It’s a big change. You’ve helped other people transition from paid employment to living on their retirement plan payments, and the return they get on their investment assets. You may be able to help them too.

Relationship reviews are report cards. Clients like that.

Relationship reviews are also an opportunity to do more business, gather additional assets and open new accounts through referrals.

You need to have a plan when conducting those reviews.

— Read 10 Ways to Tactfully Get Your Point Acrosson ThinkAdvisor.


Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be found on Amazon.