Practice Management

The Super 7 Client Agenda Checklist

By  Grant Hicks

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Have you ever been to a meeting that took more time than necessary? How can you make your meetings more productive while enhancing your client experience? How can you demonstrate value in your progress update meetings? 

In working with Business Health and their client survey tool, Ray Henderson of Business Health in Australia suggests that clients surveyed in several countries around the world by their financial advisor sometimes do not see value in the review process. Why is there a disconnect between what the advisor delivers and what the client sees as a valuable use of their time? 

It Starts with an Agenda  

In my workshops with financial advisors, it all starts by having a solid agenda for your existing ideal clients. It helps structure the meeting, keeps it on track, and delivers value. The challenge is, it can be too complicated and take too much time.

Where do you find the ideal balance between trying to accomplish everything in one meeting or taking up too much time? This comes with experience, and the more you use agendas the more refined the process. After all, it is a process that top financial professionals use to constantly enhance their ideal client experience. 

The Super 7 Agenda Checklist  

There are seven critical areas that should be discussed at a progress update meeting with ideal clients.

1. Blank

The first one is blank on the agenda, as the first question is “since our last meeting is there anything that you have been thinking about, planning for, or any major changes in your life that you would like to discuss?” This sometimes is the whole meeting and the agenda gets put aside to deal with a major change in your client’s life.   

2. On Track

This focuses on client outcomes as clients want to know one critical answer in their finances, am I going to reach my goals, and am I on track.

A simple analogy is on airplane fights, there is a flight tracker, people want to see where they are and when will they get there. Use this analogy to simplify their finances and to demonstrate where they are and where they are going.

This is a great debate and discussion among top advisors on how they deliver the message, but the message must have clarity about the outcome, am I on track to reach my goals? The number one thing your clients want to know is, am I on track?

Once you have confidently delivered this message, they are open to other ideas. Miss confirming this and you will not get anything done until it is answered with confidence.   

3. Goals Update

Now that I have clarity on where I am, what’s next? This is where most advisors get off track in the discussion of future plans and dreams, as the discussion goes off the agenda and this information is not captured clearly on paper. This includes updating their financial plans.

Ask yourself as an advisor, how many goals do you have in writing from your ideal clients? Read my blog post to learn more about getting more goals from clients. Remember to help them focus on outcomes, and put their goals into outcomes, not problems and solutions. For example, people don’t buy shampoo, they buy clean hair. “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole!” ~ Theodore Levitt   

 4. Checklists

When I did meetings for clients, there were always new ideas and strategies to discuss. I would end up calling the client back or setting up another meeting because I forgot to talk to them about something valuable to help them with their finances, from tax strategies to estate planning. Then I realized, why don’t I create a checklist of items to cover and a list of some of the best ideas and strategies I learn at meetings in the industry.

This became known as my “no stone unturned” checklist. It had the five key areas of planning, tax, estate, investment, risk, and insurance and a separate section of my best strategies and ideas that may apply to certain clients. This was not a product list but a planning list to get their complete financial life in order.

This is one of the values I brought to the table in our progress update meetings. I would then take that list, put it in a binder with all of their financial documents and information to get them organized and update it annually. Sounds like a lot of work, but it represented a tremendous amount of value in their eyes, as they had no system to organize their finances.

The checklist was also a snapshot of all the work we have done in the past as it had four boxes under each line which were complete, in progress, to work on in the future or not applicable. When a client would ask about fees, after discussing fees, we would show them a sample binder and checklist and ask, are these binders and checklist something that you can see value in?             

5. Feedback

Amazing that 85 percent of financial advisors do not do any formal feedback (Source: The Future of Practice Management, an inaugural study by the FPA Research and Practice Institute a program of the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) -December 2013). During a progress update meeting with these ideal clients, ask them a question to get started such as I am building an updated unique value promise and could use your help. Can I take five minutes to ask you four questions? There are 4 KEY questions to ask.

  1. What are the 3 things that you value the most about our services? (Ask both husband and wife and write them down as women and men vary in what they truly value) Note this is a double conundrum question. Conundrum number one, your clients may not know how to answer this because they have never looked at your business that way and conundrum number two is men and women will usually answer it completely differently.
  2. How important are these 3 things to your family’s financial future? Are they important, very important, or critically important? Is there anything else that is critically important? (this question may open up other discussions about planning or critical issues in their lives such as troubled children’s health problems or other concerns in their subconscious).
  3. What is it worth to you? (Usually, they ask what do you mean, say the EXACT same question again, What is it worth to you?) You will be very surprised by the answers you get here. I will hold you in suspense because it is worth waiting for.
  4. In our progress meetings, what is one thing that we can improve on to make our time more valuable and a better experience? What you are asking is, how can we improve our progress meetings, since clients sometimes do not see a lot of value in them for the fees they pay.        

6. Communication

Tell your ideal clients what to expect and what your process is. I have heard several advisors tell me that they ask their clients, “How often would you like to hear from us?” This is like my dentist asking me ”How often would you like to see me?” How should I know? I am not a dentist. How often do I need to see you in order to be successful and reach my goals?

Then tell them what your process is and what will work for me to give me the outcome I am looking for. Is it valuable knowing when and how often you will hear from your advisor, maybe? How valuable is it to put me on a communication program that will keep me on track and give me the best possible outcome, valuable? This is where you or your team schedule the next meeting before I leave the office. 

7. Paperwork and Follow-up

Preparing your paperwork and having it organized in advance adds to your professionalism. Every meeting and discussion has a follow up including notes if you do not record your meetings (which I recommend). It may be in your head as additional thoughts after the meeting, it may be a spouse after the meeting discussing details with their other half. It may be mail that comes because of transactions, planning, or paperwork that occurred. How you do your follow-up defines your level of professionalism.

Think of the great follow-up you received in the past and how did it make you feel? It may be a simple email, text, or call, or it may be a comprehensive letter, but the follow-up to summarize the meeting is critical. Did they really understand us, or was it their agenda and about them? Having a follow-up process from you your team and other people is where most of the referrals (I like to call favorable introductions) occur. Without follow-up, why did we get together? Do your clients value your meeting follow-up process? How can you make it better? 

Where Do Referrals Come In? 

Most financial advisors are taught to bring up referrals at the beginning or end of a meeting. Because of all the discussions that go into a meeting, this doesn’t usually work for comprehensive wealth management. Instead, this is where you have a secondary meeting. A meeting after the meeting and introduce other ideas such as your family plan, your network of professionals your referral or introductions process, and discuss events.

Have a lunch meeting after your meeting or a separate coffee meeting or online virtual coffee as these conversations take time. Have 10 secondary meetings and you will get 5-10 introductions. Don’t have secondary meetings and trying to squeeze one more thing on an agenda is usually a negative for your ideal client’s experience. Read my blog on secondary meetings. 

Key Agenda Items 

While the super seven is a great list to build your ideal client experience, I want to hear from you. What else do you successfully put on agendas?

Here are some other ideas from the top financial advisors I work with:

  • Your value promise and documented process, your quarterbacking service, and your association with other professionals as part of your team approach.
  • Fee audits to help clients understand the costs and the impact of their plans.
  • Goals update also includes updating their financial plans.
  • Financial planning software keeps getting better to help people do interactive planning.
  • Referral discussion such as events or case studies to share.
  • Getting additional centers of influence. 
  • Mindmaps to summarize their planning on one page.
  • Paperwork that needs to be completed and file updates and regulatory requirements of you and your firm.
  • Online client portals to help clients stay on track. The technology list can be added here ( subject of a future blog post) to enhance your ideal client experience.
  • Start with a simple agenda and make it a process to deliver more value in less time. Remember to make your agenda a checklist to keep the meeting focused and keep track of completion.  

If you would like a copy of sample client agenda checklists, email grant@ghicks.com

How about your goals for your practice in 2022? Our practice management resources are below.   

Discover:

  • Key processes to finding and acquiring more ideal clients for financial advisors.
  • How to enhance your offers and your value promise.
  • Blog on the best practice management strategies to help you manage and build your financial advisor practice and team.

We are here to serve your practice, let’s talk.

Contact us to help get clarity around your goals on paper, and have the goals conversation by contacting Grant at grant@ghicks.com or click on the link to set up a no-obligation 20-minute discussion. Regardless if we work together, let’s have a chat and listen to your biggest practice management concerns to help you get clarity around your future business.

About the Author

Grant Hicks, President, Advisor Practice Management

Grant Hicks, CIM, is President of Advisor Practice Management and co-author of “Guerrilla Marketing For Financial Advisors” 1st and 2nd edition. For speaking, workshops, or coaching, contact Grant at grant@ghicks.com

Grant’s combined financial advisor clients manage over 5 billion AUM and earn over $50 million dollars combined!  

Disclaimer: In order to make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured on our platform. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor promotion of our clients over other professionals and firms not featured on Wealthtender. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.

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