Client Meetings

The number of client meetings and time taken differs from firm to firm as they adapt a Financial Planning process that works for them. The basic outcome and aim is the same: to gain a deep understanding of the client and to communicate the value offered by Financial Planning at the earliest opportunity.

First contact

The first contact with clients is critical and sets the tone for the relationship for the coming months and hopefully years. Regardless of the number of meetings that take place, each point of contact needs to be well thought through so that trust is built between the Financial Planner and client from the outset.

In over 700 conversations conducted with clients of Financial Planning practitioners over the last two to three years there is one piece of feedback consistent across all conversations. There is an overriding feeling of relief and happiness that these clients had met their Financial Planner. No other professional seemed to be held in such high regard, apart from the cases where accountants and lawyers had the foresight to recommend these Financial Planners to their clients.

700+ client conversations

It’s clear trust is developed when clients are listened to. Really listened to. Very few Financial Planning clients in the 700, felt they had ever been asked about what was really important to them. By anyone, sometimes including their partners. There being no talk of financial products in the early stages of the relationship was always mentioned and contributed to the feeling of trust. Interestingly, only a handful of clients mentioned fees. Most claimed the financial planning service to be beyond value.

When developing or enhancing your Financial Planning service, it always pays to talk to your existing clients or those typical of the clients you would like to work with. Feedback is generally spontaneous and generously given, particularly when these people feel they would do anything to help their Financial Planner. The person who has had such an impact on helping them achieve peace of mind. In most cases the trusted adviser had become a trusted friend.

Preparing for meetings

Place is an important factor: offices should be welcoming, professional and well laid out; the welcome friendly and well thought through; the meeting area designed for a more relaxing conversation rather than boardroom style.

There are differing thoughts about what should be sent out for reassurance ahead of the first meeting but in general a checklist of what to bring is seen as helpful, also help with directions, parking, if the office is open plan some introductions to help make friends of what can sometimes be a sea of faces. It may seem obvious but in developing a personal trusted long-term relationship it is just as critical as how you spend the time in meetings.

One of the other interesting pieces of feedback from the 700 client conversations was the separation of the soft and hard facts. Many clients found it hard to talk about the emotional side of life and look at figures at the same time.

This becomes easier when the figures presented to clients relate to life plans.