The 5 Must-have Client Meet­ings

A mul­ti­step strat­egy is vi­tal for win­ning, ser­vic­ing and re­tain­ing business, John J. Bowen Jr. says.

Financial Planning - - CONTENT - By John J. Bowen Jr.

A mul­ti­step strat­egy is vi­tal for win­ning, ser­vic­ing and re­tain­ing business.

You should ask a prospect about any other ad­vi­sors they work with, and try to un­der­stand what they value about th­ese ad­vi­sors.

AD­VI­SORS ARE MOST SUCCESSFUL when they do one thing above all else: work in close part­ner­ship with clients over time.

To en­sure you are con­sis­tently giv­ing clients this close at­ten­tion, you should take them through a se­ries of five re­la­tion­ship­build­ing meet­ings. Th­ese meet­ings are de­signed to win, ser­vice and re­tain clients. And they could ul­ti­mately lead to nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties for re­fer­rals.

Let’s take a close look at each of th­ese crucial meet­ings, and how they should be run to achieve the best re­sults.

1. DIS­COV­ERY MEET­ING

The foun­da­tion of true wealth man­age­ment is the abil­ity to ac­cu­rately un­cover clients’ key fi­nan­cial and per­sonal needs. With­out this skill, all the spe­cial­ized fi­nan­cial ex­per­tise in the world won’t mat­ter.

To com­pre­hend a prospec­tive client’s full sit­u­a­tion, your first meet­ing should be a to­tal-pro­file in­ter­view. Ask ques­tions that will re­veal their val­ues, goals, key re­la­tion­ships and in­ter­ests, as well as their as­sets. You should also ask them about any other ad­vi­sors they work with, and try to un­der­stand what they value about th­ese ad­vi­sors.

Some­times a prospect will won­der why you ask for such de­tailed in­for­ma­tion dur­ing a first meet­ing. But after you present them with a plan that re­flects their an­swers to those deep- dis­cov­ery ques­tions, they will usu­ally see the value.

2. IN­VEST­MENT PLAN MEET­ING

Here you present the prospect with a de­tailed in­vest­ment plan based on what you learned in the dis­cov­ery meet­ing. The plan will es­tab­lish you as a knowl­edge­able and thor­ough pro­fes­sional, and also serve as a fi­nan­cial roadmap for prospec­tive clients. The plan should in­clude:

The prospect’s long-term needs, ob­jec­tives, val­ues and time hori­zon.

The level of risk the prospect is will­ing to ac­cept in any one-year pe­riod with­out ter­mi­nat­ing the pro­gram.

The rate-of-re­turn ob­jec­tive and the in­vest­ment method­ol­ogy and as­set classes that will be in­cluded.

After you have pre­sented the plan, ask the prospect if they feel pos­i­tive about go­ing for­ward with the re­la­tion­ship. Many prospects will re­spond yes.

But this doesn’t mean you have to ask them to come aboard as clients just yet. In­stead, ask them to take the plan home and re­view it care­fully so they can be sure they want to pro­ceed.

This, of course, goes against the con­ven­tional ad­vi­sor wis­dom of “al­ways be clos­ing.” But it tells the prospect you are not just a sales­man, and helps set ground­work for a trusted long-term re­la­tion­ship.

3. MU­TUAL COM­MIT­MENT MEET­ING

As the name sug­gests, the goals are to make the com­mit­ment to work to­gether and exe-

cute all agree­ments needed to do so. You can also use this meet­ing to ob­tain in­tro­duc­tions to other qual­i­fied prospects.

Open it by ask­ing the new client whether they have any ques­tions about the in­vest­ment plan. As you re­spond, be ready to of­fer proof state­ments, such as ar­ti­cles and books that are aligned with your phi­los­o­phy and that ad­dress any is­sues the prospect might raise. Then ex­e­cute the doc­u­ments. You should be sure to have all pa­per­work pre­pared in ad­vance.

Once your prospect is a client, you should im­me­di­ately be­gin to lever­age the re­la­tion­ship by ask­ing for in­tro­duc­tions to other po­ten­tial clients.

Be­cause your new client is im­pressed enough to trust you with their fi­nan­cial fu­ture, they may be very will­ing to pro­vide the names of qual­i­fied prospects.

The best ap­proach is to of­fer a com­ple­men­tary sec­ond-opin­ion port­fo­lio re­view ser­vice for the client’s friends and as­so­ci­ates.

4. 45-DAY FOL­LOW-UP MEET­ING

It’s easy for a new client to be­come over­whelmed by fi­nan­cial pa­per­work in the weeks fol­low­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the in­vest­ment plan. This fourth meet­ing al­lows you to help the client un­der­stand and or­ga­nize the forms.

To do that, cre­ate in ad­vance a tabbed or­ga­nizer with sec­tions for state­ments, your reg­u­lar progress re­ports and any other types of com­mu­ni­ca­tion you of­fer (such as your newsletter).

Ex­plain what each tabbed sec­tion is for, and place each doc­u­ment in the ap­pro­pri­ate sec­tion, show­ing the client how to read each one as you do.

Fi­nally, set up the next meet­ing, ex­plain­ing that it will be your first re­view of the client’s progress to­ward meet­ing their goals. Let the client choose the time in­ter­val for th­ese reg­u­lar progress meet­ings. If the client is un­sure of what the time­line should be, rec­om­mend that you meet quar­terly.

5. REG­U­LAR PROGRESS MEET­INGS

Here you’ll as­sess the client’s progress by tak­ing th­ese steps:

Ask about ma­jor changes in the client’s per­sonal or fi­nan­cial life. A job change, di­vorce or re­cent death in the fam­ily, for ex­am­ple, may all re­quire ad­just­ments to your client’s wealth man­age­ment plan.

Re­view the client’s in­vest­ment po­si­tion and progress rel­a­tive to the in­vest­ment plan. Have the most up-to-date in­for­ma­tion avail­able about the client’s cur­rent po­si­tion. Re­view their progress, point­ing out any sig­nif­i­cant changes since your last meet­ing. Ex­plain per­for­mance, both ab­so­lute and rel­a­tive to the ap­pro­pri­ate mar­ket bench­marks. Con­trast this per­for­mance to the ex­pec­ta­tions out­lined in the wealth man­age­ment plan.

Re­view ad­vanced plan­ning needs. Use th­ese meet­ings to dis­cuss the client’s ad­vanced plan­ning pri­or­i­ties, such as es­tate plan­ning or char­i­ta­ble gift­ing. Of­fer­ing full, per­son­al­ized ser­vice has be­come an im­por­tant dif­fer­en­tia­tor for any ad­vi­sor. For ex­am­ple, you might con­sider re­view­ing a client’s needs in part­ner­ship with a team of ex­perts in ar­eas such as tax and es­tate plan­ning.

Ask for ad­di­tional as­sets. This is the time to do what few ad­vi­sors ever do: Ask the client, who should now have full trust in you and your abil­i­ties, if they have ad­di­tional as­sets you can man­age.

Clearly, this wealth man­age­ment process re­quires more time than some other meth­ods. But this rel­e­vant time spent yields sub­stan­tial div­i­dends.

Ad­vi­sors who hold th­ese meet­ings are per­fectly po­si­tioned to build high-qual­ity re­la­tion­ships with their clients. This should lead to more re­fer­rals, greater rev­enue and a health­ier prac­tice over­all.

Be­cause your new client is im­pressed enough to trust you with their fi­nan­cial fu­ture, they may be very will­ing to pro­vide the names of qual­i­fied prospects.

John J. Bowen Jr., a Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning colum­nist, is founder and CEO of CEG World­wide, a global coach­ing, train­ing, re­search and con­sult­ing firm for ad­vis­ers in San Martin, Cal­i­for­nia. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @Ce­gad­vi­sor­coach.

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