Annual Planning Meetings

You’ve taken on a new client, given them a great initial Financial Planning experience, followed up with an Annual Planning Meeting and are wondering what now? Garry Hale looks at the next few years of your client relationship.

The Annual Review, or as I prefer to call it, the Annual Planning Meeting, is an important date on your client communication calendar. Some call them Forward Planning Meetings as the important stuff is ahead and cashflow is always about looking forward rather than back.

Pre-meeting preparation; clear, well laid out agendas and the prompt distribution of minutes of the meetings are all key parts of the process and in my experience, clients love them.

They are a good way of continuing to build trust as your client relationships mature over the years. They are also a good way of demonstrating how you continue to add value, year after year.

Thoroughness of preparation means you will be individual to each client and each client will feel you are taking great care of them making it easy for them to justify your ongoing fees.

Turning to a sailing analogy

You’ve completed the plan to buy your yacht and it’s berthed and waiting in the marina. Before you set off on your next journey, there is lots of stuff to be done before you even start the engine and venture out of the safety of the marina to hoist your sails.

Even before you arrive at the marina, you need supplies, to be checking the weather, preparing.

Once at the marina with your crew, maybe your spouse and family, you have a number of jobs to do. Checking all your supplies and equipment, engine checks, sail checks, weather, checking your planned route and the assumptions and calculations you have made, being aware of safe havens en route should circumstances change.

All checks are done, the crew briefed, and safety briefing done, you are good to set off, but this is just out of the marina!

You have to be aware of everything going on all around you, allocate actions to the crew, manoeuvre your yacht out of its berth on off the pontoon and through the marina, taking care and being mindful of the conditions and activity of others.

Eventually you are at the exit of the marina and setting out to sea. You head out and make your preparations with the crew to hoist your sails, switch off the engine and start your adventure and journey to your first destination.

In my view this is all just your first stage of the Financial Planning process and maybe taking you to your initial planning meeting with the client.

Lots of work has gone on to get you to this stage which has involved actions by everyone, detailed planning, use of data, information and planning assumptions and forecasts.

But remember you’re only just out of the marina and now in the open sea. The start of your adventure and journey has only just begun.

You are now thinking of your first destination and what needs to be done to get there and the information and plans that need to be put in place with your crew to make the initial passage enjoyable and successful for everyone.

Your client is going to need the expertise and guidance of an expert skipper to help them navigate ahead, continually monitoring conditions, always looking forward.

Planning & preparation

Planning and detailed preparation is vital to the ongoing annual planning meetings. I always issue key details ahead of the meetings: their net worth, their updated income and expenditure details so that in the meeting maximum time is spent on planning where to next.

Most of my clients have an annual planning meeting. Some I meet six monthly to discuss and review investments. The annual planning meeting is always a separate life focussed meeting.

Make cashflow integral

Make cashflow modelling an integral part of your service proposition; give it to every client and present it on a large screen for maximum effect.

In my experience, perseverance with the more sophisticated software pays off. You can create much more meaningful and engaging plans. Also, keep up to date with the latest releases, features and enhancements, do the training, use their help desks. Create your own cashflow!

Having provided my clients with ongoing cashflow planning meetings for over 15 years, they really do value the ongoing planning advice. There is always plenty to discuss and areas where planners can add ongoing value to the client’s outbound journey and life.

Clients should really enjoy and benefit from the cashflow planning meetings and look forward
to them.

The meetings should be exciting; about life. They should provide clients with peace of mind that their Financial Planning skipper has their vessel, whatever shape or size, on track.

The journey should be successful and enjoyable with any turbulence managed and just adding to life’s richness along the way.

Pre-meeting prep

Sample checklist, 6 weeks before

Send to client:

Reminder of meeting with agenda for client to update with any issues arising

Current income and expenditure questionnaire


Update investment & policy information

Review notes of previous meeting

Update cashflow with new information

Check key areas for conversation – update wills, etc.

Annual planning meeting sample agenda

Purpose of meeting

Minutes of previous meeting

Matters arising

Latest actions undertaken on the client’s behalf

Review clients’ objectives

The year’s highlights

What haven’t you done you would like to do?

Cashflow update

Key items for future discussion

  • Investment review
  • Tax planning
  • Estate planning
  • Family
  • Other professional advisers

Summarise revised objectives, actions & timescales

Date of next planning meeting

Issue minutes of meeting within two days