As yearend approaches, the next few months are bound to be hectic. But they will also be rife with opportunities to grow your business, says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist, a consulting firm for advisors in Montreal.
“Clients are looking for leadership from their advisor,” Gilbert says. “It’s about being there in a proactive way.”
Using a relationship-centric strategy over the next few months, Gilbert says, can help you spur new growth from your existing clients.
Gilbert offers the following tips to help you prepare for more effective yearend client meetings:
> Review life changes
Plan your yearend client meetings to include a recap of what has happened in the client’s life over the course of the year and to help you set the stage for the years ahead.
For example, you might have included your client’s contribution to a child’s university tuition, but not accounted for that child returning to the homestead after graduation. Relate any changes back to your client’s overall financial goals and how these events could move the goal posts.
“Open that channel of communication,” Gilbert says. “If you don’t talk about a specific topic, another advisor will.”
> Gather information
The next 90 days also offer you the chance to gather more information about your clients. In your yearend meetings, ask questions that will help you get a more complete snapshot of your clients’ financial lives.
For example, does your client work with other advisors? If so, what is your share of the client’s wallet? Also, what are the names of your client’s accountant and lawyer?
Once you have gathered this information, be sure to note it in your database.
> Focus on goals
The talk about performance of your client’s portfolio is a necessary part of your meeting.
The way you frame that discussion, Gilbert says, can give it a positive tone. For example, instead of taking the traditional route and measuring your client’s portfolio performance against a major index, show how that year’s performance relates to your client’s financial goals.
For example, if your client has expressed a desire to retire at 63, frame your discussion around the question that concerns your client the most: “Will I be able to retire when I want to?”
“It’s a chance to change the dialogue from one based purely on returns to one based on value and the relationship,” Gilbert says. “That’s a very good business-development strategy.”
> Follow up
The client meeting sets the stage for future action, Gilbert says.
After your meeting, send your client a follow-up letter or email to thank him or her for the meeting and to recap what you discussed.
“The follow-up will reassure your client that you have listened to them,” Gilbert says.
In that follow-up message, include an “action plan” that outlines what steps you and your client need to complete in the coming months. For example, you might ask that your client forward you a previously purchased life insurance policy so you can incorporate it into the financial plan.
Also, ask to schedule your next meeting. “If you say you are going to do something, follow up and make sure it happens,” Gilbert says. “Make a promise, keep a promise.”