Designing the Review Meeting of Your Client’s Dreams

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Client Review Meeting

Throughout my career as a financial planner, I’ve tried many approaches at streamlining the task of setting up and getting data for client review meetings. This has been as simple as a brief phone call, but this can sometimes lead to a lack of data. On the other end, it has been as in-depth as requesting copies of a client’s statements and re-iterating their goals, but then the work would be too much for clients and I would get the silent treatment.

But I seem to have found a “middle-ground solution” – having my client’s design the agenda for their meetings, and provide the corresponding data.

I have always wondered what a client thinks before coming into a review meeting. Are they anxious, hesitant or even excited? However, what if they were able to specify what they wanted to talk about, provided information on those things, and knew exactly what to expect in the meeting? Would this change how meetings were run, and increase engagement?

Twelve months ago, I designed a simple six-question SurveyMonkey questionnaire that went out a couple of weeks prior to my client review meetings. It asks clients to list the memorable things that had happened that year, so as to drive our “get re-acquainted” conversations. I have them review their Action Plan (an Executive Summary-type report I provide clients) from their last meeting and let me know if anything is outstanding. Giving them a list of financial planning topics, I ask them to mark the one’s they want to talk about at this meeting.

Two things have been surprising about this question. One, investment returns and relative performance are almost never a priority, but discussing (and re-defining) goals is always at the top of the list. Secondly, after talking with my clients during the year, the topics that I thought would be at the top of the list never are. They get to choose what is top of mind and we spend time discussing what matters to them.

I then give them the option of how they want the meeting to be carried out. Many of my clients want to meet in-person and I like it that way. I am happy to travel to them, and they all like that we get to sit around a table together. However, when we have a need for an additional follow-up meeting, they are all comfortable with jumping onto a video or phone call to carry on our business.

I have then chosen to ask for feedback on my services at the end of the questionnaire. I have found when asking this in person, it gets uncomfortable and I rarely get anything that I can use to better myself. However, when asking this in a questionnaire, I get some great feedback about some tweaks I can make in my service. By asking it through a questionnaire, clients can spend time thinking about their service experience, and not feel put on-the-spot.

The great thing about this online-questionnaire setup is that I can send the same link to all my clients through the year and it doesn’t require any customization. I don’t have to do any additional work, and their responses are captured for me to review at my convenience.

With the fact that I have Blueleaf providing me up-to-date account information, and this is integrated with Money Guide Pro, I don’t have much updating when it comes to meeting time.

All I have to think about is making sure we talk about everything on their agenda.

Dave Grant, CFP®, is the founder of Finance For Teachers a fee-only RIA in Cary, IL. Dave exclusively serves teachers in Illinois by helping them to organize their financial lives and live a fulfilled life. He is also a columnist at Financial Planning magazine, a ghost writer for various companies, and the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for over 300 young, fee-only planners.
  • steve June 17, 2015, 3:14 am

    could you provide a sample of the questionnaire?

  • Blueleaf June 23, 2015, 1:23 pm

    Hello Steve, we will work on finding that questionnaire for you now!

  • Bluealeaf June 24, 2015, 2:28 pm
  • Susan Iverson, CFP July 5, 2015, 1:43 pm

    Dave – this is an EXCELLENT Idea!! And, so simple to put to work immediately. Thank you for sharing! I recently joined an Investment Advisory firm that has not done any Fin’l Planning – this will be an excellent and non-threatening way to see if clients are interested in a review. Thank you, thank you.

  • Shelly Ransom June 6, 2016, 5:27 pm

    Hi Dave – loved this article; thank you for sharing! I couldn’t agree with you more about the idea of customizing the content and structure of client meetings so that the client is an active participant rather than a passive participant. Definitely drives more productive results!