Taking notes can help you remember key points covered in a meeting and create a paper trail that documents that discussion. Your note-taking technique should provide accuracy and be unobtrusive.
Taking notes during a meeting shows a level of attentiveness to detail that clients can appreciate, says Richard Heft, president of Ext. Marketing Inc. in Toronto. And note-taking can help you remember seemingly minor details, such as milestones in clients’ lives, which are important if you want to build deeper relationships with them.
While notes may not capture all the nuances of a conversation with a client, they do create a record that you can revisit later. After a client meeting, you might glean information that sounded insignificant at the time, or piece together a fuller picture of the discussion with the help of your notes.
Here are some note-taking tips for building detailed client-relationship portfolios:
> Record the conversation
Using a recorder is the most accurate method of capturing a conversation verbatim. Most smartphones also function as recording devices, and the recordings can be used to build a digital inventory of important discussions.
A portable recorder or smartphone is less obtrusive than a laptop, which would create a physical boundary between you and your client, Heft says. He adds that you should obtain permission to record the conversation and explain that it’s a way to ensure accuracy.
To avoid having to replay the entire conversation afterwards, you should still take notes of key points during the conversation, says Dean DiSpalatro, senior writer at Ext. Marketing.
> Establish a personal shorthand
People have different note-taking systems that work for them. Some develop shorthand for key phrases and terms, others try to record it all verbatim. If you decide to take only hand-written notes, DiSpalatro says, make up abbreviations that you can remember and decode easily.
Because people speak at different paces, it’s not always possible to write down every word or even every point made. When you lose track of what was being said, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, says Heft, especially if it’s a complex issue.
> Document your conversation
As soon as possible after the conversation, organize your thoughts by writing a rough outline of what was discussed. You can even share the summary with the client via email to confirm that it reflects the conversation, DiSpalatro says.
Notes are particularly helpful when you encounter delicate conversations or when you and the client disagree about your advice. In these cases, a documented record of your exchange — such as follow-up emails and a digital recording —is crucial.
For example, if a client rejects your advice and loses a substantial sum as a result and then complains to the regulator, you have a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates how you handled the situation, DiSpalatro says.
“It does happen once in a while,” says DiSpalatro. “And the advisor needs to be attentive to keep that paper trail in place.”
> Be mindful of compliance
Consult with your compliance department before outsourcing the task of transcribing your recorded conversation, Heft says. The recording may contain personal information that is covered by privacy regulations.
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