When you work with a prospect and guide them towards making a financial decision and take action, you assume a leadership role. For many financial advisors, you make a commitment to lead them to and through retirement. However, many financial professionals have failed to have a scheduled maintenance process in place to review their clients’ plans and adapt them to life and lifestyle changes.
Many Advisors Skip Reviews
I recently completed interviews with several estate planning attorneys. I was searching to find someone who I am comfortable with referring clients to. I spent an hour with each attorney asking a list of questions to help me identify who would be a good fit for my practice. One of the questions that I asked was with regard to their maintenance program: a.k.a. their review process. To my surprise, they didn't have one. All but one attorney said they had no review process at all. The one who did have a maintenance program schedules reviews every two years. She specifically stated during the interview that she was considering extending the time frame to every 10 years.
I understand estate planning, and legal advice, is a different business than financial advice. However, they are fiduciaries. They operate under a fiduciary duty to their clients. This is no different than an investment advisor who has a fiduciary duty to his financial clients. I'll be frank, I was shocked at how transactional these attorney’s business models were and that they lacked a review process.
There are two missed opportunities when advisors do not have review meetings with their clients.
- I believe that it is your duty to continuously work with the people who have trusted you with some or all of their life savings. You have an opportunity to make a significant long lasting impact in somebody else's life. That’s significant, and it’s our responsibility to follow through with what we started.
- In the course of making a significant impact in someone else's life you earn respect which results in the opportunity to make yourself more referable. You are more likely to earn repeat business from your existing clients, and introductions to new referrals if you are engaged with your clients through a maintenance program.
If you are not regularly reviewing the plans you and your client have set forth, ask yourself “why?” Perhaps something in the back of your brain tells you that as long as you don't communicate with them, everything will be OK. No news from them is good news. Perhaps you're thinking that your plan is long term, and therefore there's no need to routinely get together. Maybe you have created some other alternative excuse for not regularly communicating with your clients. Am I telling you this is wrong? Absolutely!
Give Your Clients a Reason to Stay
Focus groups and consumer polling have repeatedly shown that clients will not leave their financial advisor for bad advice. However, they will search for a new advisor if their current advisor doesn’t regularly communicate with them. Bad advice should lead to negative consequences for the advisor. However, poor communication is what gets advisors into a bad situation.
Your clients want to hear from you. They want to feel like you are on their side, and part of their team. Your clients experience life changes. In the course of a 12-month period, they may experience the birth of children, or grandchildren. They could experience the death of a grandparent, or a parent, or child. Their children may get married, and their children may get divorced. They could inherit money, change jobs, or make large purchases that were not part of the original plan. One thing is for certain; the plan that you set forth with your clients must be reviewed regularly and adapted to their life changes...and their lives will change.
Implement Annual Reviews
We require that our clients meet with us at least one time per year to review their plan. We specifically discuss any life changes that have taken place in the last 12 months. There may be instances where the reviews need to be done more frequently. However, an annual review is the minimum.
We also schedule semi-annual "life change" surveys. The "life change" survey is accompanied by a cover letter and return envelope. We ask questions about family changes, job related changes, and health related changes in their lives. At least twice per year, our clients are receiving a notification letting them know we care, and reminding them to discuss these changes with us, their trusted advisors.
It's Easy and Worth the Time
Implementing a regular maintenance and review process into your practice doesn't have to be a big challenge, especially if you have an automated nurturing system that can help. However, it does take some thought and a written process. Just like your automobile needs regular maintenance, and just like your health requires regular checkups with the doctor, so does your clients’ financial plan. Whether you manage a piece of their plan, or you manage their entire plan, reviewing it with them on a regular basis benefits them as well as your business.
In your review meetings you can discover if your clients have "lazy" money. Click here to read why finding your client's "lazy" money is important.