Two Client Meeting Mistakes You Might Be Making

Today, a guest blogger…

The Blueleaf Blog would like to welcome Barbara Kotlyar as today’s guest blogger! Barbara works to help financial advisors like you “bridge the gap” between you and your clients. Today she’s stopping by to explain two client meeting mistakes you may be making.

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computer with listsMany advisors are starting the New Year by meeting with clients and creating a plan for the coming year. The key to productive meetings is getting clients to open up about their concerns so you can address them and offer valuable solutions. The problem is that most clients would rather go to the dentist than your review meeting. They dread going through the financials and listening to your lecture on what happened last year and what they should be doing this year. The key to changing this dynamic is making them an active participant in the conversation, rather than an attendee.

Mistake #1 – Your Meeting Agenda Is Vague, Generic, or Simply Non-Existent

A great client meeting doesn’t start when the client walks in the door. In fact, there are specific steps you can take outside of the meeting to ensure you get the most out of your time together. The first step is to set goals for what you want to accomplish in the meeting. Here are a few examples of what some advisors have on their agendas:

  • Assist clients in focusing on their long term goals
  • “Check in” to learn whether their family or financial situation has changed
  • Educate clients on recent government legislation that may affect them
  • Cover your financial planning bases and determine if the client has gaps or needs
  • Ask about other financial professionals the client may be working with
  • Find out if the client needs any referrals to professionals on your team
  • Ask about outside assets you would like to manage, or have questions about
  • Ask if there are additional services the client would like you to perform
  • Understand your clients’ top 3 financial concerns
  • Understand what life events are coming up for your clients and their family

Mistake #2- The Agenda Is Only About What You Want

A written agenda is a powerful tool to maximize the effectiveness of your client meeting. Once you have your goals defined, the next step is to encourage clients to share theirs. The meeting will be significantly better if the client views the agenda as theirs and not yours.

One way to accomplish this is by setting an agenda when you call to set up their review. On the call you could say, “I have a couple of things I’d like to cover when we get together, but more importantly, what are the key questions you’d like to get answered and items you’d like to deal with when we meet?” By really listening to your client you will have the core of the meeting agenda, to which you’ll add your items.

To show your clients that you heard them and are taking the meeting seriously, make sure you email them a copy of  the agenda ahead of time or put into your client portal for their review and additions (click here to see Blueleaf document sharing in action). Encourage clients to respond with any additional items they wish to cover. If they are bringing a spouse make sure to ask for their input as well. Asking a client to add to the agenda sets the tone that you are meeting to address their concerns and collaborate on a strategy.

An added benefit of allowing your clients to add to the agenda in advance is that you can prepare thoughtful solutions, articles, resources and referrals, tailored to the issues they raise. For example if your client brings up concerns about taking care of an elderly parent you may offer them a referral to an estate planning attorney, or have a checklist ready that outlines questions they should ask the parent now to prepare for the future. Or if your client is worried about where their child will go to college you can have a referral ready for a college counselor to help address their concerns or an article with a list of the best colleges for their major.

Try collaborating with your client on an agenda in your next meeting and let us know how it works.

Do you do anything special to prepare for client meetings? We’d love to hear from you.

Barbara Kotlyar Barbara K. is a guest blogger on The Blueleaf Blog who works with financial advisors to “bridge the gap” between themselves and their clients.