Client Communications

Emphasize punctuality and use visual tools to keep them on track

By Tessie Sanci |

Clients who are unfocused, constantly late for appointments or easily distracted can lead to delayed appointments and drawn-out meetings, which can throw your whole schedule off. These delays can affect your ability to meet other clients.

Keeping these clients on track may require some extra effort on your part, but will result in more productive conversations. Here are three ways to keep your clients on track:

> Provide an appointment reminder
Send your client an email about an upcoming appointment to remind him or her of the event and increase the likelihood he or she will be on time.

Your email should include the start and end time of the appointment, says Michael Morrow, a certified financial planner and public speaker who runs Ideas For Advisors in Thunder Bay, Ont.

This message will indicate that your time together is limited and therefore anything to be discussed must be contained within that period. And including the meeting's scheduled end time subtly points out that it's important to be on time.

The email can also provide an agenda of items to be discussed. Invite your client to add any topics he or she is curious about so you can hit the ground running once the meeting starts.

> Use an agenda
The agenda you provide to the client in the email should be produced again at the beginning of your meeting.

An agenda gives the meeting a professional tone, Morrow says, and focuses the client on the meeting's purpose. By having a specific number of topics that will realistically fit within your scheduled time frame, the client will understand that the meeting must end on time.

The first item on your agenda should be a recap of what has changed in your client's life since the last time you spoke. "That gets all the chit-chat out," Morrow says, "and lets the client talk about any new developments in their life."

> Start simple
Some clients may find it difficult to concentrate on financial concepts. So, start off by keeping it simple and telling clients what they actually want to know.

For example, clients are usually more interested in whether they can afford to retire, says Morrow, than exactly how much income they can expect from the Canada Pension Plan.

Having visual materials to demonstrate points can also be helpful. Morrow uses colourful diagrams to simplify concepts. For example, instead of telling his clients how important it is to take financial planning seriously, he has a diagram that displays how many paycheques clients can expect to receive between various ages and retirement. This tool shows clients that, while they may think there is plenty of time to save, the number of paydays and the resulting income are quickly decreasing.