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10 Steps to a Great First Meeting

Engaged team members need to know how they influence the success of the business. (4).pngYou’ve finally gotten a meeting with that top prospective client you’ve been trying to meet for weeks, maybe even a couple of months. Congratulations!

Now what? If you’re like many planners, you’re excited to have finally landed the appointment, but perhaps a little apprehensive about making sure the meeting goes well.

Here are 10 steps you can take to pave the way for a successful introductory conversation.

  1. Do your homework. Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and other online resources can provide a wealth of information about your prospective client. However, keep in mind that you’re not compiling a dossier but simply looking for potential areas to explore—their employment, where they live, their family, organizations they’re part of and activities they enjoy.
  2. Determine the specific result you want to have from the meeting. What do you want your prospective client to think, or more importantly to do, as a result of having met with you? Is your goal that you mutually agree that you’re a good fit? Do you want them to schedule a discovery meeting or send you their statements? Be specific.
  3. Write out an outline or structure for the meeting that you believe will enable you to achieve your desired result. Think about creating the best flow. The better you plan for the meeting, the more likely it will be successful.
  4. Confirm the meeting with your prospective client. Send a calendar invitation, and then follow up to confirm the day before your meeting with an email, text message or phone call. Reiterate how much you are looking forward to your time together.
  5. Be intentional about what you take along to the meeting. A notepad is a must. A couple of simple one-pagers (your bio, your differentiators, your process) that support your story can be much more valuable than a slick marketing brochure or research piece.
  6. Focus on learning about them. Demonstrate a client-first mindset. Ask questions. Show genuine interest in their story. The more you learn about your prospective client, the more you will be able to connect your story to theirs.
  7. Know what you plan to say. If they aren’t a good fit for what you do, communicate that. Share that based on what they’ve shared about themselves and what they need from a financial adviser or planner, as well as how you typically serve your clients, you don’t think you’d be a good fit for them (or, cost effective for them) at this point. Be kind. Communicate that you’re not right for them, not that they’re not right for you.
  8. Describe what differentiates you. If they are a good fit for you, tell them how you’re different from other advisers and how you believe you can help them. Conclude with, “Based on everything you’ve told me about yourself and what you need, and how I typically serve my clients, I think we’d be a good fit to move forward to our discovery process.” Then stop and wait for their response.
  9. Set expectations. Assuming they agree (and why wouldn’t they?), set clear expectations for next steps and gain their agreement.
  10. Always follow up with a note of thanks, recapping the key takeaways from the meeting and confirming those next steps. Your note can be handwritten on a card (more personal) or by email (much faster).

Remember, everything you say and do communicates a message to your prospective client. Make certain it’s the message you intend.

Enjoy a productive meeting with your next client!

Susan Kornegay Headshot

Susan Kornegay, CFP®, is a partner at Pathfinder Strategic Solutions. After more than 30 years as a financial adviser, branch manager and practice management consultant, Kornegay enjoys helping financial planners define a comprehensive and consistent client experience and then market that experience in clear, client-friendly language. She is a coach, along with Adam Kornegay, RCC™​ in the Messaging and Marketing Strategy FPA Coaches Corner.

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Money Manager Analysis: Issues and Considerations

Engaged team members need to know how they influence the success of the business. (5).pngThere are many ways in which advisers can serve the best interests of their clients. Some advisory firms with the background and expertise within the firm choose to directly manage their clients’ portfolios. Others may choose to focus their time on financial planning needs and “outsource” the investment management.

Regardless of how an adviser decides to operate, it’s important that a firm’s disclosure documents are in line with what they are doing and that the firm is properly registered. Regulators will scrutinize firm’s disclosure documents for accuracy. The focus of this piece is to help advisers who outsource (or plan to outsource) the investment management to third-party money managers understand their situation so they can properly answer the disclosure questions in the SEC’s forms ADV 1, ADV 2A and ADV 2B, and determine whether the structure of the third-party money manager relationship makes sense for their situation.

Issues and Considerations

Consider the following potential issues and considerations when working with third-party money managers.

  1. What is the true nature of your firm’s relationship with the third-party money manager(s)?
  2. Are you acting as a solicitor?
  3. Is the third-party money manager acting as a sub-adviser?
  4. Under this relationship, what services are you providing clients versus the services that the third-party money manager is providing?
  5. How are you compensated? How is the third-party money manager compensated?
  6. How do you disclose the true nature of the relationship on your ADV disclosures?
  7. When the third-party money manager is engaged, is the client still considered a client of yours?
  8. If they are deducting fees, but it is “your client”:
    • Are they doing it properly under the custody rule?
    • Are they billing in advance for a period of more than six months (triggering audited financials for you if it is “your client”)?
  9. Is it your policy not to have discretion?
    • If so, does the third-party money manager trade with discretionary authority?
    • Are you responsible for approving their trades? (If you approve recommended changes without prior client approval, you are likely violating your policy and taking discretion.)
  10. How does the outsourcing of the investment management impact your firm’s value proposition?
  11. What is the reputational risk of working with third-party money manager(s)?
  12. If things go wrong with a specific client account, can they disclaim liability because it is your advisory account?

Due Diligence

During your due diligence process, discussions with sales representatives (or relationship managers) of the third-party money manager will often provide you with the general information you need to answer the above questions. That said, it may serve you well to read through the third-party money manager’s actual documents (Form ADV, agreement between your firms and the advisory agreement your clients will sign), even though it will require additional time and analysis.

The devil is in the details. Additionally, when push comes to shove, these documents will likely be at the center of determining: (1) whether your firm’s disclosures are accurate; as well as (2) ultimate responsibility on any issues at arise.

Todd Skoda

Todd Sakoda brings 20-plus years of experience in the financial services industry ranging from compliance and operations to business development and relationship management. His last 12 years has focused on independent registered investment advisory firms. Over his career, he has also worked with independent broker-dealer advisers and bank investment programs. He, along with John Carr, is a coach in the Compliance FPA Coaches Corner.


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NexGen Planners: For Success, Never Wing It

You’ve landed your first job in the financial planning profession. You attended your first FPA annual conference this October in Chicago. You made great connections and came back to work feeling recharged. Continue your trajectory of success with both your clients and employers with these tips:

Prepare. You have a meeting coming up and you have a vague idea of what you want to say, but you don’t formally prepare. You wing it. The meeting goes great because you exceeded your low expectations. You feel pretty good about yourself.

But what if you had prepared? You made note cards with key points. You memorized them. You ran through what you’re going to say a few times at home with your cat, dog, or spouse. Your performance may fall below your high expectations, but the prepared performance will beat winging it every time, said Hilary Blair, CEO and executive communication coach at ARTiculate Real & Clear, an executive coaching firm based in Denver.

Work on your executive presence. According to Blair, executive presence means to show up and be authentic, vulnerable, present and confident, while keeping your audience top-of-mind.

“It’s all about your audience,” Blair said in an informational video on her website. “Everything is about your audience, what they need to hear, not what you want to say or what you want to share.”

When you think of your non-verbal communication, what you should wear and say, make those decisions by considering what your audience needs and you’ll connect with them. Blair notes that we should dress so people can make a connection with us, not to impress them. Keep this in mind when you’re meeting with your boss or your clients.

The reason executive presence matters is because it is the thing that will inspire confidence and give you access to opportunities, says this Forbes article titled “Executive Presence: What Is It, Why You Need It And How To Get It.”

Always negotiate. When career coach and author Elizabeth Suárez got her first job, fresh off acquiring her MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, she was so happy to see how much they were offering her that she accepted the job without negotiating.

A few months in, she learned her male counterpart, hired at the same time with fewer credentials, made $40,000 more per year than she did. When she asked her supervisor why, she was told, “He asked and you didn’t.” She learned then to always negotiate. She wrote The Art of Getting Everything to teach people how to do the same. You may get a no, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Consider professional development. If leadership, continuous learning and improvement are your goals, find some leadership training programs that can better help you in your career. As a young(ish) professional, I have found great value in the Latino Leadership Institute, from which I learned about all of the content in the above sections. Also, taking advantage of all the professional development opportunities available to you through membership organizations like FPA is key. I find tremendous value in the weekly webinars from the American Copy Editors Society. They help me learn new things every week to be better prepared at work. FPA offers the same for you. If you’re currently not a member, consider whether it’s a good fit for you.

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.