One of the things we do quite often in our quest to help our industry raise the bar on the value provided to its clients is participate in pre-call planning sessions. A majority of these sessions are focused on planning for an upcoming Relationship Review Meeting with a high-value client. All too often, we hear the advisor team coalescing around something similar to the following agenda:

  1. Provide an economic and investment update (accompanied by an impressive deck of detailed information)
  2. Address specific tactical issues the team wants to discuss with the client (usually focused on a service they provide, changes being made in how they deliver their service, etc.)
  3. Ask if anything has changed since they last met
  4. Ask if there is anything else we can be doing for them
  5. Schedule the next meeting

For the most part, this is a tired and overused agenda that clients have become conditioned to expect… and often walk away underwhelmed with the value of the meeting.

In spite of the overall high satisfaction levels, only 26 percent of high-net-worth investors say they are getting the information they want from their advisors.

FA News, January 2019 

So What’s Missing?

While none of the items on the above agenda are necessarily wrong, and in many cases should be included in the agenda, there is absolutely nothing here that delivers the deeper, more meaningful value you can provide, nor leaves the client compelled as to that value.

Traditional Agenda

  • Economic and investment update
  • Specific tactical issues the team wants to discuss with the client
  • Ask:
    • Has anything changed since we last met?
    • Is there is anything else we can be doing for you?
  • Schedule the next meeting

What Clients Want

  • Clear evidence that you put their interests ahead of your own
  • To be listened to and understood regarding their priorities, goals, needs and values
  • An emotional connection1
  • You to anticipate opportunities and risks2
  • You to proactively offer insights and solutions3
  • To talk about:4
    • Their lives and not just talk about money
    • Working and spending versus saving and investing
    • How their financial decisions are aligned with their personal values
  1. CEG 2017 – 84% of affluent investors say they want to connect emotionally with their advisors
  2. Greenwich
  3. Greenwich
  4. Joe Duran/United Capital

Comparing what clients say they want based on volumes of industry research to the above traditional Relationship Review Agenda, there is much that is missing and an obvious neglect of what clients are looking for and want to talk about. While in reality there could be clients that highly value the topics in the traditional agenda, as we have recognized in these pre-call planning sessions, the key is to be sure that IS exactly what the client wants to talk about. You can also conclude from the traditional agenda that most of it is focused on what WE (the advisors) are doing and want to talk about (our knowledge, expertise, services, etc.) versus making the conversation all about the client and what THEY want to talk about.

Low Calorie/High Impact Tactics to Change the Conversation

We have found and shared with the advisors we work with a few simple but impactful tactics that change the conversation so as to better engage clients and leave them feeling more confident and appreciative of the value offered. The key, obviously, is to align what clients value most to your agenda! Here are a few simple tactics with brief explanations behind them:

Seek the Client’s Perspective

Solicit their feedback on the value you provide to understand the client’s level of commitment to you and your firm

  • We have found this simple tactic to be the hardest of all for advisors. Many have a fear of asking the client how they feel about the relationship you are providing and what they most value in it. Receiving this feedback is extremely important in order to help ensure you are delivering the value the client is looking for. Too many just guess at what that is!

Engage in Perpetual Client Discovery

Strive to always learn something new about the client

  • To best serve your clients and ensure they are on track to achieve their goals and priorities, we must be in a constant state of Discovery! Rarely should a meeting go by without digging in to ensure you are fully up-to-date about what is going on in their lives, confirming priorities, etc.

Deliver Thought Leadership

Come prepared to have “the next best conversation”

  • If you truly understand your client and his/her priorities – and have a full understanding of their financial situation – you should be able to anticipate other key issues they need to address… or at least confirm for them that they are on track in all facets of their financial life.

Establish Specific Agreements

Establish tight, concrete agreements in every meeting as to what the client expects of you and what YOU expect of the client

  • Doing so provides for you a clear view and concrete measurement to guide you as to what you need to do to ensure delivery of the greatest value and help the client more clearly assess your value.

Enhancing Your Value

In the end, we strongly encourage you to step back and rethink how you are approaching these Relationship Review Meetings and strive to pull out of the traditional “weeds” and look at the bigger picture as to the value you are providing. To assist with that, consider the following questions that many advisors with whom we have worked have found helpful in preparing them to deliver high-impact meetings with their clients:

In this upcoming Relationship Review Meeting,

  • How will we ensure this client knows exactly WHAT we do, WHY we do it, and HOW we do it?
  • How can we get the client to honestly and openly articulate their view of our relationship and on what basis they assess our value?
  • What specific questions will we ask to ensure we deeply and intimately understand this client both financially as well as in terms of their specific priorities, and how those have changed or are expected to change?
  • How will we go about confirming if this client is on track regarding their financial priorities and, if not, what they need to do to get on track (thereby informing us as to “the next best conversation” to have with this client)?
  • How will we ensure we listen more than we speak? And what specific questions will we ask to inspire this client to speak openly and honestly, recognizing that we are entirely focused on their interests and what matters most to them?
  • What steps will we take to be sure we leave with specific, concrete, documented commitments as to what are going to do (and what we expect from them in order to best serve them), and how will I leverage that for future discussions to convey/confirm that we have followed through… and done even more?!

At Greene Consulting, our purpose is to help financial services providers design better experiences, develop better people, and thereby deliver better results. A key to that is how advisors engage and interact with clients in the “Relationship Reviews” they have with clients and how those meetings can move from traditional agendas to those that are more meaningful. For more detail or insight on how we help advisors and firms in this area of the Client Experience, or any other issues related to the Client Experience being delivered, contact us at 404-324-4600 or email Rick Swygman at rickswygman@greeneconsults.com.