"Every successful business is built upon a successful process," says Scott Plaskett, a financial advisor and CEO of Ironshield Financial Planning in Toronto. Advisors often find it difficult to gain clarity on what their process is, he adds, because of the many services advisors provide for their clients.
However, once established, a repeatable process adds efficiency to your practice, facilitates consistent execution and allows you to maintain a uniform client experience, says Fred Rovers, financial advisor with Edward Jones in London, Ont. It also helps you to better manage your time, advises Krystian Urbanski, vice president of business development with HAHN Investment Stewards & Co. Inc. in Toronto.
Start with the big picture
Plaskett suggests that a successful process is part of the answer to a bigger question: "What is your value?"
Your value equation, he says, is found by answering two key questions. "What is my promise?" and "What is my process?"
The answers to these questions, he says, would lead to the creation of a formal business development plan, which lays out an effective, repeatable client acquisition strategy, a consistent lead-generation system and a systematic, measurable marketing plan.
Document your process
Documenting each step of your process, according to Rovers, makes you and your staff repeat each step without having to think twice.
Your process should be like a checklist, Urbanski says, that enables you to deal with your daily routine and various situations.
"It should be systematic, dynamic and adaptable," Urbanski says. For example, you can develop pre-meeting planners or planned conversations, allowing you or your staff to deal with "what if" conditions in a methodical way with all clients. These tools would help you and your staff determine what to do or what to say in given situations.
Test your process
Rovers advises that you test your process with clients and ask for feedback to find out what works and what doesn't.
Once you have repeated a process enough times, you should be able to define that repeatable process — to ensure that the client experience is always the same.
"Determine how much time it takes to complete certain activities," Urbanski says, "over a three-month period."
When you are organized, detail-oriented and systematic, Urbanski adds, activities such as onboarding clients and completing forms will become more efficient and repeatable.
Be repeatable, yet flexible
You still might find that the same process does not work for all clients.
"You can develop different service packages for different clients," Rovers says. "For example, discretionary vs. non-discretionary clients."
However, certain elements of your process should remain consistent, such as your planning, client-engagement and communication tools. "You should be able to treat all clients the same way," Urbanski says, "in terms of the processes you have in place."