Updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014 as of 6:20 PM ET
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Why Advisors Need Digital Documentation
Impact Communications, Inc.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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From social media and information overload, to the regulatory front and fearful clients needing handholding, financial advisors are constantly faced with more challenges. Add to that wealthier clients now expecting to receive more communication than in the past, and an advisor can get buried before they know it. 

Many of the industry’s leading advisors such as Barron’s a-list “regular” and Financial Planning “influencer” Ron Carson tell us that technology is not an expense, it’s an investment. “Bad technology can expose you and leave you vulnerable, while good technology can help promote and propel you,” Carson told me. (Full disclosure: Carson is a client of my firm, Impact Communications.)

SECURE, MOBILE DICTATION

At a recent marketing seminar Maree Moscati, chief executive of mobile dictation service provider Copytalk, lead a session focused on how technology can shore up one of advisors’ biggest vulnerabilities: documenting client conversations with good text-based notes. (Full disclosure: Moscati is also a client of my firm.)

A mobile dictation service allows advisors to submit their client notes directly via an app on their phone and have the notes securely transcribed and delivered back to them via email or directly to the CRM system.

This is a win for advisors on many fronts. By using a mobile dictation service, the advisor is now free to actively participate in the meeting. Advisors who are not tied to a pen and paper won’t miss those subtle nuances in client meetings like body language, facial expressions and other non-verbal clues that inform us. 

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NOTE-TAKING TIPS

Here are some tips Moscati offered to get the most out of your notes from client meetings:

1. Pay attention to visual cues and vocal nuance.  During client meetings, it’s not uncommon for advisors to frantically juggle interacting with the clients, observing their behavior and responses and capturing everything in notes at the same time. What are they missing while multitasking? Probably, quite a lot. That sideways glance between spouses, a shrug of the shoulders or quick grimace speaks volumes and can help the advisor not only understand the total dynamic, but offer better guidance and advice, too.

2. Find a way to take some basic notes, but don’t get lost in the weeds. Some advisors have found that inviting an assistant or junior advisor into client meetings is a good solution, while others try to do it all themselves. The best advisors take a few notes but focus primarily on the clients’ body language, facial expressions, word choice and vocal inflections. Many have decided that having an assistant in the room or recording the entire conversation would not be perceived well by the client. Instead, after the client meeting ends, they immediately dictate their key observations via a secure telephone line or a mobile app so that a professional transcription service can provide a typewritten record back to the advisor.

3. Ditch the paper but use a secure, encrypted system. Most advisors will agree, handwritten notes are the devil. Post-meeting there are the challenges of getting the notes into a legible form, and filing and retrieving the notes. It’s a cumbersome and illogical system, yet advisors continue to need a push to move towards a technology-based solution.  The best mobile dictation and transcription services will encrypt the notes and deliver them via email. Some will even place them right into the advisor’s CRM. If you are considering mobile dictation services, be sure to look into how the notes are handled because some providers send your recordings to home-based employees, which could lead to privacy challenges.

4. The palest ink is better than the strongest memory.  With short-term memory, you lose 2/3 of what you hear after 24 hours. As a financial advisor juggling many competing priorities, that is a scary statistic. Imagine your horror when you sit down a few days after a client meeting to review the file, and can’t remember what your notes mean. Mobile dictation can help advisors with things they need to remember and document.

PRACTICE BENEFITS

By cutting ties to traditional notes, advisors are freed up to quickly capture kid’s names, family information and anything else that can build rapport with clients. Advisors become active listeners, which helps the client know they’ve been heard and will help them feel better in the meeting. Clients that feel good tend to be more satisfied, and well, you know how this goes . . .  Good notes equate to good advice, which helps you present yourself as a trusted financial advisor. 

(4) Comments
This article underscores the need of a good technology which can work wonders for the business. The few devices enumerated above make perfect business sense. You cannot fault the way, digital notes/ digital files score over the traditional methods. Indeed, these devices will free you to concentrate on what the client is conveying both verbally as well as through non-verbal clues. Makes sense in seeking the help of technology.
Posted by tasha123 s | Wednesday, November 13 2013 at 12:08PM ET
Great post Marie. I would add that having good notes in digital form is really critical once you go beyond a one-person practice. If not properly recorded, the details of conversations that an advisor has with a client are often lost and not passed on to other staff members who are also involved with client interactions. This can make the client feel like the advisor is not listening.
Posted by Dennis S | Friday, November 15 2013 at 9:09AM ET
Hi MARIE,

Thanks for giving informative tips. It's So useful.

Thank You, Finlaw.in

Posted by Aditi J | Tuesday, November 19 2013 at 6:39AM ET
It's often difficult to manage documents that come in different forms; having separate spaces to store paper files, cassettes, videos, DVDs and CDs can be costly and confusing. Going digital will improve your work performanace in all the ways that documents are involved. There are plenty of software options to help organize your digital documents.
Posted by KIMMY B | Thursday, February 13 2014 at 1:35AM ET
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