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How to Master the First 90 Days of The New Client Journey

Many advisers assume that once they’ve signed a client the hard work is over. Unfortunately, that idea couldn’t be further than the truth.

Within the first 90 days, your clients are going through a colossal shift. Starting with the sales process and ending with their initial plan being presented, they’re fully trusting you with their money, their goals and their fears.

Your job as their adviser is to make sure your clients’ initial experience with you is seamless and repeatable. Guiding them through their first 90 days in a process-oriented way helps you to create a scalable business, create stronger bonds with your clients and generate more referrals.

What Steps Does a New Client Take in Their 90 Days?

Within the first 90 days, your clients will go through:

  • Sales
  • Onboarding
  • Data gathering
  • Discovery meetings
  • Initial plan presentation
  • Implementation of investment or insurance recommendations

That’s a lot of different steps for your clients to move through.

Even if each of these processes are old hat to you, they’re new to each client you sign. By
creating a process that leaves no stone unturned and guides your clients every step of the
way, you’re building a strong foundation for your future client relationship.

To start creating a “first 90 days” experience, it helps to map out the steps your clients will
take.

A typical outline would be:

  1. Discovery call
  2. Proposal review
  3. Get started meeting
  4. Plan presentation

Then, outline what happens during each of those steps. For example:

  1. Discovery call or introduction call
    Booking a call
    b. Call reminder
    c. Call follow-up
  2. Proposal review
    Follow-up to initial meeting
    b. Client onboarding (after the sale is complete)
  3. Get started meeting
    Data gathering
    b. Introduction to client-facing technology
    c. Introduction to key team members
  4. Plan presentation
    Presentation preparation
    b. Follow up for implementation or next steps

Your outline may include other steps. Feel free to customize according to what you and your team normally do.

Building Resources for Your Clients: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

When working through your first 90 days experience, don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to your resources. Simplify where you can. Often, it’s best to start with prospecting and onboarding resources. For prospecting, you’ll want marketing pieces prepared for potential clients. These can be tailored to different ideal clients and their pain points. For example, you might have checklists or guides for home buying, lifestyle planning in retirement or financial considerations when you first have kids.

If your prospects are ready to move forward, you’ll need your next set of resources. You need a game plan for what to do when someone says they’re ready to sign on. Typically, I recommend having “get started” folders or guides prepared. A “Getting Started Guide” would outline everything your new client needs to move forward including their contract and a checklist of next steps. I also recommend having a folder of resources to help them self-onboard. These resources might include an onboarding guide for their client portal, formal introductions to team members and video guides for any technology they’ll be expected to use.

Remember to be available for questions and follow-ups. It can even be useful for you to plug reminders into your CRM or financial planning software to follow up with your clients (or to have your team members or admin do so) to make sure they aren’t having trouble self-onboarding.

Where Do You Store These Processes?

Now that you have your processes outlined and resources created, you need to store them in an easy-to-access place. The ultimate goal should be to have these items stored in your CRM and automated where possible. However, to get started, I recommend creating a folder in your office or in your online filing system.

Break your folder out based on your client’s journey:

  • Prospect booking
  • Prospect meetings
  • Client onboarding (based on service offerings)
  • Plan presentation and/or implementation

In your CRM or storage folder, you want to store:

  • Email templates
  • Follow-up letters
  • Marketing resources
  • Investment philosophy
  • Resources for prospects
  • Menu of services
  • Onboarding documents
  • Team introductions
  • How-to’s on accessing accounts
  • Training videos for self-onboarding
  • Guides to upload statements
  • How-to’s on client-facing tech
  • Financial plan templates

Remember: Put Your Client First, Then Reap the Rewards

The impression you make in your first 90 days with a new client is critical. It sets the tone for your continued relationship and can determine both the length of the client engagement and whether they’ll become a referral source in the future.

If you focus on creating a seamless experience in their first 90 days by addressing their needs and being ahead of questions, you’re elevating your service and the way people view your practice. The more you can structure the first 90 days experience to serve your clients, the more likely you are to build a thriving, successful business.

Charesse Hagan

Charesse Hagan helps financial planners work smarter, grow their firms and offer exceptional services to their clients. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is an operations consultant at Charesse J. Hagan, LLC, and an FPA Coaches Corner coach for technology and operations. Find more resources from Hagan here.


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Stop Running and Start Planning for Productivity

As a productivity coach for financial advisers, I find it ironic that many advisers plan for their clients but not for themselves. When I say they don’t plan, I mean they don’t plan for the day, the week, the month and certainly not for the year. So of course, planning out five to 10 years isn’t even on their radar.

Planning can be the difference between growth and stagnation for your practice. Running through the day with no plan or vision of where you are going can work for a short time, but it causes stress, overwhelm and even grumpiness in the long run.

In order to become a more productive planner for your practice and develop a planning muscle that will support a thriving practice in 2030, here are a few things to begin working on now:

(1) Know What You Need and Value

Before you even look at your calendar, look inside to see what matters to you. When you know what you need and value, you can then let that guide your vision, mission and decision making for your practice. If can be very unfulfilling if you plan your day, week, month, year or ten years BEFORE you know what it is you need and value.

For example, if one of your needs is ‘family time’ but you never plan for it, productive planning can help you meet that need. This approach assures that your 10-year plan and your daily plan are in alignment with who you are and what you want.

(2) Create your Ideal Week

If you woke up on Monday and lived your life through Sunday night, how would it ideally unfold? This VISION is what you want to create. The chances of living your ideal week consistently are slim but without a vision of how you want your week to look, you’ll end up meandering through your days. This is no way to grow your practice or live your life. Many of my clients include an hour in their ideal week to assess their 3, 5 and 10-year plan progress. This also gives them the chance to check in on how they are aligning with their values and needs.

(3) Get Your Tasks Out of Your Head

If you have “the swirls,” which is keeping all your tasks in your head, waking you up at 2 a.m. in a cold sweat because you forgot to do them, please help your brain and get them on a to-do list.

The list never goes away, but you start to notice that the same tasks go undone. You start picking the easy, unimportant ones that move you no closer to your goals. Or, you procrastinate with ones you don’t want to do and then scramble at the last minute to complete them. And, my personal favorite, you do things that are not on your list but you’ll add them just so you can check them off! (Yes, I’ve been watching you.) A to-do list can certainly help your brain and work wonders for some people but if you want to get to the next level, keep reading.

(4) Schedule Your To-do List

This is probably the most important tip to being more productive on a day-to-day basis. The goal here is to completely wean yourself from your to-do list. Decide when you PLAN to get something done, put it in a time slot on your calendar and commit to doing it. It’s not for everyone but I dare you to try it. Once you develop this scheduling muscle, your roadmap to 2030 will become much easier.

(5) Stop Being Reactive

So often, financial advisers operate in a reactive versus proactive mode. They put out fires all day: answering emails and phone calls, tending to clients who “drop in” unexpectedly and accepting constant interruptions. Having a daily plan will make you more proactive and help you manage those interruptions. Having a long-term plan prevents you from continually chasing shiny pennies and gives you permission to stay focused on your path.

The power to stop running and start planning is within you. Master these planning skills and by 2030, you’ll be one fine-tuned productivity machine leading the pack, not being left behind.

Patty Kreamer

As a Productivity Coach for financial advisers, Patty Kreamer coaches her clients to clear the clutter that blocks their success, take control of their time and get more done. Productivity is the result of everything she does. Patty is a sought-after speaker, bestselling author and owner of Productivity Uncorked, LLC.

 

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the FPA Coaches Corner whitepaper “Action 2020: Create Business Success for Today and Tomorrow.” Download the whitepaper here

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How to Thrive Through a Financial Crisis

We deal in facts and figures; no question about that.

However, as we cope with the business fallout from COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) it’s worth remembering that, when it comes to our clients, we are also dealing with the full spectrum of human emotion that comes with investing capital for the future.

The opportunity afforded by this crisis is for you to grow as a financial planner in two ways. One, to take stock of how you deal with uncertainty and build professional resilience. Two, to courageously step up for clients and provide the reassurance needed that their financial goals—and dreams—are still achievable.

We are about to have some difficult conversations, driven largely by fear. What I’d like to do is help encourage and reframe these conversations so that you can be in a place to offer empathetic insight to anxious clients wondering how COVID-19 will affect their money.

So where do we begin?

Prepare and Self-care

Before you even start to think about how to deal with the business fallout of the crisis, check-in with yourself to make sure you have the well-being tools at your disposal to cope and thrive. If you have a mentor, speak to them to establish context for what is happening. If you don’t, I recommend seeking out digital resources to gain a sense of perspective and direction. Josh Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth, shared an inspirational talk he gave to safeguard the well-being of his team and help young financial planners navigate this crisis with their clients. Let Josh’s voice be your own!

Pick Up the Phone First

Be the financial planner who proactively reaches out to clients before COVID-19 panic motivates them to call in a frenzy. Check in with them first to see if they are doing OK, if their family is healthy and if there are any immediate ways you can be of help. Be as vulnerable as they are and have a human conversation before you pull it back to their financial plan and address any concerns about their investments.

Acknowledge and Repeat Their Concerns

When rational thinking is in short supply, our primary concern is to ensure our clients don’t derail their long-term goals and strategy. What some may be feeling right now is a fight or flight reaction, at odds with the logic that brought them to their investing journey. You can’t talk them out of how they’re feeling in this moment; it’s akin to telling someone with a cigarette in their mouth to stop smoking.

First, acknowledge that you’re thankful for them opening up—that it’s normal—and repeat back what you hear. Right now your client is looking for empathy and some emotional skin in the game, not a silver-tongued voice of reason. We get it, this sucks, now let’s take a deeper look together.

Create Space

Before this conversation gains momentum, stop it in its tracks and create some space. Tell them you’re pulling up their file; put them on hold. This gives them a chance to pause (and center) and creates a platform for you to drive the conversation. Right now your client feels an absence of control over their external environment and they need you to remind them of what they can control: how to react.

As Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six pillars of influence, which he set forth in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, suggested now is also the moment to establish authority…quickly. Data and facts may not help irrational thinking, but clients still want to know you’re on top of things. Have your evidence-based information ready to start the conversation.

Refocus on Their “Why”

When you first started this relationship, you spoke at length about their financial goals, values and reasons for investing. That was a good conversation. This one can be too if you pull them back from the immediate reality they are focusing on and go big picture. Ask them once more about what the purpose of investing was and scale it back to what was always a longer-term timeline. Our worst decisions are made when we can’t construct a positive future, especially with the repercussions of COVID-19 confronting us daily. Remind them of their financial plan and use visuals to show that things will get better in the future. Even better, pull up their plan and show them that all their goals are still within reach.

Word Choice is Everything

Gently remind them that your strategy accounted for market fluctuations, even at this level. Use phrases like “Remember, we discussed” to reassure them that this is well-trodden ground and not unplanned for. Now is a good time to use empowering language to bring your client into feeling an active partner in what happens now, rather than a passive victim to the markets. It’s our strategy, it’s our financial plan and it’s our goal. Remind them to trust the decision-making skills that led them to invest in the first place.

Anchor Their Experience

Anchoring clients in recent history, with timelines, is also helpful. Provide the wider context, as you did at the start, that markets are cyclical. We fear bear markets because of fear of the unknown. Six years ago, we had a bear market.  Do whatever you can to give things form by linking their experiences to the past. For example, the average bear market losses are X. The average bear market lasts this long. Again, be aware and intentional with the words you use. Focus on using positive words that infer we will get through this.

End with Hope

You didn’t have to rush to call the client, but you owned the situation and did. Your priority was to give some reassurance and a regained sense of control. You did this because you understand that living through a market downturn isn’t about portfolios and percentages for them. It’s about the thought of having to stay in a job longer, not being able to afford a child’s education, not seeing out a lifelong dream.

There will be many of these conversations ahead and I encourage you to embrace them. Contextualize each one around your client’s unique set of dreams and fears. Do that each time and you’ll provide the balance of normalization and hope needed.

Much better, you’ll strengthen the bond you have with your clients, through authentic, considered financial leadership.

Amyr

Amyr Rocha Lima, CFP® is a partner at Holland Hahn & Wills LLP, a financial planning practice based in the United Kingdom. Recently named by Citywire as one of the UK’s Top 35 NextGen Financial Planners, Amyr specializes in retirement planning for successful business owners and senior professionals, serving clients in London and the South East of England. Follow him on Twitter @a_rochalima or check out his personal blog www.amyr.co.uk. Connect with him on LinkedIn

 

Editor’s note: This article is in the forthcoming April issue of the FPA Next Generation Planner.