5 Strategies for Successful Client Onboarding


For financial advisers, the long-term sustainability of business success hinges on the ability to attract and retain profitable client relationships. For those advisory firms committed to growth, the need to acquire additional assets under management and attract high-net-worth families as clients is constant.

Often times, in the wake of a focus on growth, client onboarding becomes an afterthought rather than a relationship-building opportunity, as the adviser and his or her team may turn to the next potential client rather than work on creating a lasting relationship with new clients. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so neglecting this important step can be costly in terms of client retention and the potential for referrals.

When clients are onboarded successfully as part of a well-defined process, the results are predictable:

  • Client trust is stronger
  • Client engagement is higher
  • The long-term client-adviser bond is far richer
  • The client understands the value of the partnership
  • Clients are more likely to become advocates of the adviser and the advisory firm

To establish the best processes for onboarding new clients relative to your practice (every practice is unique, so there are no one-size fits all solutions), here are five strategies that our research on top-performing financial advisory practices have revealed are helpful:

1. Set Expectations Before Onboarding Begins

When you meet with a potential client (and again in an initial e-mail after the relationship has been formalized), lay out how the onboarding process works and what documents and materials are needed to transfer accounts, create a financial plan and start the relationship.

2. Collaborate in Building the Relationship

Clients will have a great deal of confidence if they know more about what to expect in terms of your process for working with them. There is no “best practice” in terms of how often and via what communications channels interactions between advisers and clients should take place; in fact, by collaboratively creating a schedule and deciding on the best methods for communication early on in the process, you and the client can begin an equal partnership on the best possible footing. Also, share with the client the role team members play in your practice and introduce them to the team members they will be interacting with when they call, email or come into the office

3. Engage on Social Media

If you’re on social media—and if you aren’t, consider why not—ask them if they’d like to connect with you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and whatever other platforms you might be on. Connecting with clients in these ways can provide valuable information about their lives, including job changes, promotions, new grandchildren, etc. and provides an addition channel for you to communicate.

4. Create a Formal Process for Onboarding Clients

When putting together this process, think about how you onboard clients now and about the way you would optimally like to welcome new clients to your practice. Consider the role you want the client to play in the process (see No. 2 above). Write down all the steps and which team members will be involved, then circulate it among your team for feedback before formalizing it and entering it into your CRM as a process. If this is something you already have in place, consider ways to make appropriate changes and improvements.

5. Connect with Clients’ Other Advisers

To act as a comprehensive wealth adviser, you need to know and be in active touch with your clients’ other trusted advisers, including CPAs, attorneys, insurance agents, etc. As part of the onboarding process, gather these names and contact information and establish contact with those professionals as early as possible in the onboarding process.

A Final Word

The client onboarding process, when navigated successfully, creates an opportunity to cement the adviser-client relationship at an early stage. By establishing processes, reaching out to trusted advisers and keeping clients in the loop about how you manage their relationship, you’re more likely to retain those clients and pave the way for potential referrals in the future.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to rework your client onboarding process, download “9 Client Onboarding Strategies for Top-Performing Financial Advisors” here.

Ray SclafaniRay Sclafani
CEO and Founder
ClientWise LLC
Mount Kisco, NY

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