Posts Tagged ‘Person Team’
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
How client feedback drove dramatic gains in one advisor’s business
Many advisors have heard about the benefits of a Client Advisory Board. Today, an advisor who leads a six person team discusses how her very first meeting yielded startling insights on everything from the most effective form of communication to portfolio reviews to how to encourage referrals.
Note that this advisor recruited the members of her board by posting a notice in her newsletter inviting clients interested in participating to let her know, and then supplemented this by approaching a few clients directly.
This article originally appeared in Horsesmouth, the leading advisor practice management site. Anyone interested can get a 45 day free trial to Horsesmouth here:
By: Debra Taylor, CPA/PFS
I am constantly striving to follow best practices and become more efficient as my firm and I grow. Following best practices, we recently held our first Client Advisory Board (CAB) meeting. Although it is too soon to say for certain, I think it may be the best $500 I have ever spent on my clients. (In fact, I didn’t even spend it, as one of my local vendors was more than happy to foot the bill.)
I expected the CAB to serve as a way for me to be more in tune with my clients’ wants and needs so that I could better serve them, but it is turning out to be much more than that. I now have eight action items on my plate, plus the knowledge that my clients have a vested interest making our firm stronger.
We held the CAB meeting in a private room at our local country club and had eight clients in attendance. We met for about two hours and followed the agenda below, which was presented to each client.
|Client Advisory Board Meeting Agenda|
|I. Introduction of Advisory Board purpose: A collection of our best clients who have been brought together to advise us on the strategic direction of our firm.
II. Introduction of our team and members of the
Client Advisory Board
III. Understanding our unique services
a. What unique services do we offer you?
b. What should we be offering you?
c. What areas of our service could we improve on?
d. What is our greatest strength?
e. What are our weaknesses?
f. What are your thoughts on our team?
g. What do you know about our broker-dealer? Would you like to know more?
IV. Client communications
a. The Weekender
i. Do you read it?
ii. What would you like to see in it?
iii. What should we remove from it?
b. Meeting notes
i. Do you review them?
ii. Would you like us to change how we provide you with meeting notes?
iii. What would you like to be included in your meeting notes that isn’t currently included?
i. Do we adequately inform you of market conditions or changes in your portfolio between reviews?
ii. Do we notify you in a timely manner about items such as contribution deadlines and other important events?
iii. Would you like to be notified in a different way?
V. Portfolio reviews
a. How often do you have them?
b. How often would you like to have them?
c. Do you review your meeting kit?
i. Would you like to see anything added to your meeting kit?
ii. Would you like anything removed from your meeting kit?
d. Would you like your portfolio reviews to be in person or over the phone?
e. What would you like to get out of your meeting?
f. What could we do better in our reviews?
VI. Financial planning tools
a. Would you like to hear more about our comprehensive financial planning?
b. Do you think a financial plan could be useful to you?
c. What would you like to get out of a comprehensive financial plan?
VII. Investment strategies
a. What strategies are we using that others are not?
b. Are there investment strategies that we are not using that you would like to see us use?
c. Are there strategies that we are using that you do not like and would like for us to improve upon?
VIII. Client events
a. Upcoming events (What should we be offering?)
a. Next actions
I was worried that my clients would be reluctant to share with me, especially those things that my staff and I could be doing better. To address this concern, I invited my most outspoken client, a former college professor, to act as the catalyst for open communication.
During the early part of the meeting, we talked about the accessibility of my staff and the openness and transparency of our processes and fees. I received 10 minutes of positive responses, which made me a little nervous; worried that my CAB meeting was turning into a love fest and no actionable items would come out of it. So I baited my outspoken client, mentioning a transfer that was not properly processed in his account; then the condor started to surface.
We started to talk about the relationship with my broker-dealer. Many of our clients were actually unaware of the relationship, and we dedicated a considerable amount of time discussing my broker-dealer’s custodial and compliance roles.
I believe my clients found the explanations to be reassuring. It also puts me at ease to know that should I take the next step in going RIA, I would have a loyal following among my clients and not lose a significant portion of them. If nothing else comes from a CAB, the renewed faith and boosts in confidence you get from hearing your clients praise and appreciate your work is definitely valuable!
1. Explain our relationship with our broker-dealer to our clients so they gain a better understanding of the benefits.
Our firm sends out a newsletter called The Weekender every Friday. It is our main distribution channel for disseminating information to clients and prospects on a mass scale.
We have used The Weekender to distribute our weekly market commentary and to stay top-of-mind on a regular basis. As it turns out, our clients were eager to learn more about their investments, learn more about the markets, and have a more personal relationship with the firm.
As a result of CAB input, we have made radical changes to The Weekender. We now include a “Did You Know?” column that highlights a different investment topic every week, a “Personal Finance Corner” that highlights a different personal finance piece every week (whether it be accelerating your mortgage payments or highlighting credit card rewards programs), and a “From Where I Sit,” column, which is written with a more intimate tone and allows me to connect with my clients on a personal level.
Action items (cont’d)
2. Continue to build on the success of The Weekender
3. Create other meaningful ways to connect with clients on a more personal level
We have a very thorough process for portfolio review meeting with our clients, whether they are quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. We start with a member of our team reviewing the accounts and their performance with the client. I then discuss any changes that we are recommending and any new strategies or managers we should be considering. We then discuss any changes in the client’s needs and follow up by answering any questions they may raise.
Following best practices, we schedule our next appointment before the client leaves, and within 48 hours, a member of our team sends notes that summarize the meeting and outline any action items to be done by ourselves or our clients.
As it turns out, the CAB reported that meeting notes are quite valuable to the clients, and they appreciate that we put our promises for action items in writing; thus holding ourselves accountable. Although the clients asked that we be less thorough and specific about the investments in their portfolios and focus more on the overall performance, this is one time I think I will err on the side of compliance and caution.
Action items (cont’d)
4. Be more to the point in portfolio reviews
5. Put more emphasis on the delivery of meeting notes
We closed by discussing client events and seminars. We learned that our clients wanted more “lunch and learn seminars” and more client appreciation events. We will still hold our fun events, although we have now scheduled a “lunch and learn” every six weeks for the rest of the year.
Our clients expressed interest in learning more about their options when it comes to Social Security, transitioning to retirement, estate planning, tax planning, and market conditions. Not only will these lunch and learns help strengthen my relationships with my clients, but they will help me strengthen my relationships with industry professionals and centers of influence. I will invite an estate planning accountant and attorney to conduct these seminars and hopefully strengthen them as referral sources.
6. Provide more educational events, such as monthly seminar topics and speakers
7. Offer more opportunities to spend social time with my clients
Although many advisors hold Client Advisory Board meetings as part of their referral marketing, I have always struggled with asking my clients for referrals; although I do. However, I was very surprised and found it most interesting that my clients did not wait for me to discuss this topic; they raised it on their own!
One of my clients said they have been so impressed with our firm and the way that we manage their investments that they have been meaning to refer their friends and family to us, but haven’t had the opportunity or venue to do so. They wanted to bring their friends and family members to a lunch or some other client events in order to make an introduction and actually show them firsthand what our firm is all about, rather than just recommending our services.
Wow! That was an amazing insight. With the help of these clients, I will be able to grow my practice even faster than I could have ever imagined.
Action items (cont’d)
8. Hold “bring a friend” events specifically designed and marketed for clients to introduce others to the firm.
Your clients are your lifeline, and you should be should listening to them. I have always believed that if you do right by your clients, listen to their needs and desires, and do everything in your power to provide them a superior client experience, it will pay dividends. Our Client Advisory Board experience has just reinforced this belief for our firm.
Tags: Advisory Board, Aspx, Attendance, Best Practices, Board Meeting Agenda, Client Feedback, Cpa, Debra Taylor, Dramatic Gains, First Meeting, Free Trial, Local Country, Mechanics, Person Team, Portfolio Reviews, Practice Management, Private Room, Referrals, Startling Insights, Vested Interest
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