The following article from Damien Rylett is an exerpt from the “Power Guide to Financial Planning – The Client Experience”, produced by the Personal Finance Society and provided to financial planners at www.pfspower.org. You can download the full guide here.
If you want clients to be happy about a life focussed Financial Planning service, you have to prepare them to expect that service. If they expect something different, even the best service in the world won’t make them happy.
You are putting too much down to chance if you don’t prepare clients to talk with you about their life, their aspirations, their hopes, their fears and their most important relationships.
Nearly every prospective client will arrive with some pre-set thinking about what financial advice should look like. Particularly if your own website is full of language about investments, funds, life insurance, pensions and other products.
Without setting expectations that are consistent with who you are, there is a strong possibility that you will bring the wrong people into the room. Or, perhaps even more damaging, you might bring in the right person with the wrong expectations and fail at turning them into a client.
First, know yourself
You have to be authentic and consistent, which means you have to find a way of working that resonates with your true self.
- Who are you? Who are you really?
- What is your purpose?
- What values do you want to project?
- Do you want to change lives?
- Do you want to grow pots of money or do something different?
- Why do you want to offer that service?
- Because you think it’s needed?
- Because you are good at it?
- Are you called to it?
- Is there some other reason?
This self-discovery exercise is essential to forming your personal service and being able to articulate a message that you can be consistent about and driven to provide.
Once you have this, your message and communication should follow that path across all channels: your website, social media, email blasts, blogs, everything. If you want to be a lifestyle Financial Planner, you need to think and communicate as one every single time.
Prepare potential clients
Send a letter managing expectations
My letter says:
Come along to my office and we’ll have a discussion about all things that are important to you, things you’re hoping to achieve in the future. This meeting will be at our cost and at the end of that meeting, we’ll have a good idea whether we think we should work together and how much it is going to cost if we move forward
This letter does a few things:
- It sets the client’s expectations by telling them what the meeting will be and what it will not be.
- Because I don’t ask them to bring their financial paperwork with them, they don’t expect to talk about investments in the meeting which means they won’t be upset when I don’t talk about investments.
- They get a flavour of what we will be discussing and hopefully intrigued to go deeper.
- I assure them there is no cost for the meeting so they don’t worry about cost and by the end of it, they will know how much it will cost if we work together.
It’s up to me to deliver
You can’t ask a prospect in for a meeting about their life and have them sit and watch a PowerPoint presentation about me, my company and our service.The meeting has to be ALL about them. NOT us and NOT about their money.
A word about messaging
Your messaging extends beyond your official company communication to your entire public persona. It all has to fit together. By communicating who you are consistently, you will attract clients who are right for you, and filter out ones looking for something different.
Everything you put on your website can affect your meeting. Less is always more. Everything matters. The way you confirm meetings, the environment you have them in, all correspondence, your client agreement. You are who you are and who your whole authentic self is, is more than good enough.
Some Practical Suggestions
- Review your website – what does it say about you and the people you work with? A one-page website with the right message is better than a complex media presentation that doesn’t tell a client much about you or them.
- Put yourself in your clients’ shoes – Walk through every part of the client experience prior to your first meeting with them. If your clients are referred, what do your referral sources say about you? What do they lead your clients to expect? Do you send out paperwork? Do you ask for documentation? Consider the pros and cons of each of these contact points from a client’s perspective. If you wouldn’t like it, consider alternatives.
The Personal Finance Society will be hosting client engagement workshops titled “perfecting your first meeting” in London and Sheffield on 12th and 13th February. More details can be found here.
Damien Rylett is CEO of Brunel Capital Partners and Partner at the FP Training Academy.