"Resolutions" written on a piece of notebook paper (Image: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain) (Image: Wikimedia Commons PD)

Lots of clients make New Year’s resolutions. Advisors can do them, too. Apparently 60% of Americans make them, yet only 8% are successful in keeping them. You are better than that. You are going for a 100% success rate.

1. Review every relationship. Keep or give away. Your accounts are likely householded. So far, so good. Some clients get great attention, others not so much. If something blows up and it’s under your production number, you own the problem. Determine, on a case-by-case basis, which you will keep and which can be reassigned, creating space (capacity) in your book.

2. When was the last time I spoke with them? It’s a relationship. One of the first signs of weakening is a breakdown in communication. Contact lets people know you are thinking about them. Has it been awhile? Do they still consider you their advisor? Is it a reassigned relationship? The firm likely encourages at least a minimum schedule of contact. Have you been in touch? Yes, some people prefer texting over email. If there’s been a vigorous dialog, yes you have been in touch. It’s their preferred channel.

3. Do they know what I do? Next, look over each household. Think about your contact person(s). Do they know what you do? We often put people in categories like “lawyer” or “accountant.” They put advisors into categories like “bond guy” and “insurance person.” The product mix should answer this question. If they don’t know, you need to figure out how to get the message across.

4. Can I sit across from them? Over the years, relationships can become more distant. Once it was phone conversations. E-mails followed. Texting came next. The relationship strengthens with face-to-face contact. Plan an annual review with as many clients as possible. This might take two months! Some you might visit at home. Others might come into the office. Skype might work for others, especially if there’s a shared screen. Others might be phone calls. Newspapers tell which funds outperformed in the past year. Clients will wonder how they did. If you don’t tell them, their CPA or a competitor might tell your story for you.

5. Am I Helping this Person as Much as I Can? “Share of wallet” sounds so tacky. Hopefully this client has a good relationship with you. They need and buy other services elsewhere. Would they buy them from you if they knew you offered them? They need to learn (or relearn) how you can help them.

6. Can I save them money? This might sound crazy from the advisor’s point of view, but it’s great from the client’s point of view. Every year our insurance agent reviews policies and suggests how we can save money. This should shift the conversation away from: “Am I paying too much?”

7. What has changed in their life? There’s a reason to get in touch! Has their job situation changed? Have they changed firms? Have there been health issues? Births in the family? Their advisor is often the last to know. When you are in touch, draw them out. This can lead to business, but it shows you also care about them as a person.

8. Are there assets held elsewhere? You are presenting a comprehensive annual portfolio review. This requires data gathering. You are happy to include assets held away, showing how the pieces fit together. Knowing about assets at other firms can lead to logical reasons it makes sense to bring some of all of those assets in house.

This exercise takes lots of time and effort, even if you have focused your business on 100 – 200 relationships. Taking these steps shows your client they are important. It also focuses their attention on their portfolio, goals and the whole relationship.

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