There are some common practises which advisory businesses can adopt in order to boost efficiency and effectiveness. Tracey Underwood of PACE Solutions offers some practical suggestions on how you can develop and refine your approach.
When it comes to creating the perfect client engagement process, the good news is that once you’ve got the right processes in place, they can be replicated throughout the business creating consistency in the client experience and enhancing your brand into the bargain.
Whether you are a financial planner, investment manager or life planner the questions which you ask your client may well vary, depending on which approach you take. However, there is some commonality between each business which we can examine and build on.
In this article, I will attempt to address the more common ‘high level’ processes which financial planning firms can consider as they strive for greater efficiency and effectiveness in delivering a financial planning service that clients will love.
Historically, some financial planning businesses may have adopted an approach whereby every introduction would have resulted in a meeting with the client; production of a report and transaction of some business (or the case of the latter, no business may have been transacted). Not only were advisers meeting with clients that potentially did not fit in with their business model but, by doing so without any fee charging structure in place, many were literally giving away their advice for free, diminishing their intellectual property as well as their profitability. Clearly it is not sensible for businesses to do this. Many advisory practices have now adopted an upfront fee charging structure, whereby the initial financial planning work is charged for prior to delivery. However, even before that point is reached, some preparatory work needs to be undertaken as part of the initial engagement in order to ensure a smooth experience for the business and the client.
Before meeting with any new client or prospect, a few key details should be obtained, either from the clients themselves or an introducer. Of course, in the case of the latter, your introducer should have a good understanding of your business and its requirements so as to refer the ‘right’ clients.
Having a few ‘high level’ questions ready for when you speak to a prospective client can soon filter out whether they are a suitable fit for your business and vice versa. Unfortunately, this is where some businesses fail. They will take on clients who are simply not suitable. This could be because they will not be profitable or the client and the business fail to agree. An example of this situation may be where the client actively manages their own investment portfolios and wants to continue with this philosophy when engaged by the firm.
Once you have determined that there is a reasonable fit with a particular client then the next stage would be to conduct a discovery meeting to take things further.
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