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Kitces: To Serve Clients More Efficiently, Think Beyond the Obvious

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What You Need to Know

  • Michael Kitces urged advisors attending the EDGE conference to think outside the box when dealing with clients' special requests.

Michael Kitces has some good news for advisors: You can go the extra mile for your clients without burning yourself out. It just takes a little creative thinking.

When clients have special needs, the typical range of options is “either we reduce our services and we do a simple, low-cost thing for clients [with] relatively limited quality [and a] limited price or … accommodate everything [at a] very high cost so that I can charge a premium for that service,” Kitces said Thursday at the Wealth Management EDGE conference in Hollywood, Florida, in the day’s opening address, “How to Make Planning More Efficient.”

“But these are not the only two choices,” said Kitces, who is chief financial planning nerd at Kitces.com and head of planning strategy at Buckingham Wealth Management.

For example, there are often clients who can meet with an advisor only on a limited number of days and at a limited number of hours, he said. Option one is that since it’s a pretty big client, you give that person an appointment at whatever time they want, he said. Option two would be to say you’re sorry but you don’t make special appointments like that.

“But these are not the only options,” Kitces said. You can instead say something like: “I’m sorry. We can’t do individual client meetings in the evenings but we actually periodically do educational events in the evenings” and there is such an event coming up on the exact types of issues that the client needs to talk about.

Doing one-off meetings for every single client would be “very inefficient,” but doing four quarterly webinars on specific topics in which you may get more than 100 clients to show up at one time is a “really efficient way to accommodate clients with evening preferences,” he said.

Alternatively, if you have a lot of young clients who can meet only in late evening or early morning due to work and family obligations, you can create a “specialized offering,” telling them you’re introducing a new service for them. If an advisor actually went to market with a service like that in a neighborhood with young parents, it could be a hit, he said.

Providing an example of another scenario, he said there may be a client who asks an advisor to analyze their taxes even though the advisor is not an accountant. The obvious options would be to agree to look at the taxes because it’s such a good client or say no and tell that client to see a CPA, he noted.

But there is an alternative option, he told attendees. For example, you could tell the client that you’ll help them run their taxes through the Holistiplan tax planning service. Holistiplan can scan a whole document in about a minute and then give you a summary report and planning ideas, he added.

Then there are those clients who want to interact only with an advisor and not their staff, Kitces said. Advisors can obviously tell the client to either just email them directly and accommodate them or say everything must be run through the advisor’s team.

An advisor can instead, however, tell the client to email them directly at a special email address set up just for clients like them in which a specialist will get the information and will handle it better and faster than the advisor can, but query the advisor if there are any issues, he noted.

Or an advisor can tell a client you just hired a client concierge specifically for top clients to handle special requests and additional services, he said.

(Pictured: Michael Kitces; Photo by Jeff Berman)