*Source: Cultivating the Middle Class Millionaire (Russ Alan Prince).
The cornerstone of client communication is the client review meeting, a time-intensive undertaking that rarely receives the respect it deserves. As one of the few times you and your clients sit down one-on-one, reviews can be valuable drivers of client retention, growth of wallet share and referrals.
If you are like most advisors, you use these sessions to review the markets, client assets and recent life events. To set yourself apart, consider going beyond these basics.
Solid preparation for the meeting is essential for a successful and quality interaction.
Creating a standard report that fits most of your clients but allows for customization where needed can save you time. Consider following the process below to ensure you cross all your "T"s and dot all your "I"s. You or someone on your team should:
A review requires at least 45 minutes to properly prepare. I know some people who don't prepare. I did it once, and the client subsequently left me.
An effective meeting covers more than performance. It should instill confidence, bring the client a level of comfort and include a holistic discussion of wealth management issues. An agenda is a must, but so is flexibility. You want your meeting to be organized, meaningful and consultative, even if that means veering off the agenda.
Part I – Cover the necessities
Part II – Differentiate yourself
Part III – Make sure you don't...
Assuming you have been successful at setting appropriate expectations at the beginning of a relationship and reaffirming your value through the client review meeting, have the courage to:
Good — Emerging elite advisor
The advisor scheduled today's client review at the end of last quarter's review. He uses the same template each time, which his assistant prepares and hands to him as he is heading into the meeting. The advisor and the client quickly review the asset allocation, any moves since last quarter and the portfolio performance. The advisor answers any portfolio-related questions and then asks the client about changes at home or at work that might be relevant. Once the 45- to 60-minute meeting is over, the advisor schedules next quarter's meeting. In the meantime, he will use monthly calls and emails to stay in touch.
Great — Elite advisor
This advisor also scheduled today's client review at the end of last quarter's review. He used one of his monthly emails to the client to inquire about agenda items for the meeting. The client appreciated the more personalized email, and the advisor liked that it encouraged the client to think of topics and concerns beforehand, leading to a more thorough discussion. The advisor has a template for the portfolio performance review, but he selects just a few pages from that template that he thinks will resonate based on the clients' interests. The advisor sends the materials to the client a day before the meeting, which (1) ensures the advisor has time to prepare, (2) allows the client to review in advance and (3) avoids the complication of sending them too early and pre-empting the review. During the meeting, the advisor will offer to start with whatever topic most interests the client, and he makes sure the client does more talking than he does. At the end of the meeting, the advisor schedules the next review for the following quarter, and follows up with an email recapping what they discussed and any "homework" the client or the advisor should do.