For advisors who want to get more done in less time, one important area of opportunity is meetings. Improving the effectiveness of your meetings not only maximizes your own time but also makes the most of your employees’ time and your clients’ time.

Internal and external meetings provide different challenges, but being ineffective in either one can impact performance.

TEAM MEETINGS

If on team meeting day employees reluctantly enter the conference room with a look of impending doom on their sullen faces, something is not going well. Wasting time in unproductive meetings that lack clear vision and tangible action items can drain the work force. On the other hand, well-executed meetings can be inspirational to your team – ultimately increasing productivity and improving morale.

If your office meetings are not producing the results you want, re-evaluate what you are really saying and how long it is taking your message to get to the audience. The following actions can help improve the process:

1. Define the purpose of each meeting. No one likes meetings for meetings’ sake. Set a time limit and stick to it, allowing others to hear the messages, get a call to action and get on with their day. Consider the following targets in reviewing your meetings for improvement:

  • A daily meeting (15 minutes) – Help one another be successful today 
  • A weekly staff meeting (1 hour) – Discuss project status, successes and struggles 
  • A quarterly investment review meeting (1.5 hours) – Discuss model portfolios and overall business and investment models.

2. Keep the focus clear on goals. Use a consistent agenda format so attendees know what to expect. To make the best use of your time, the agenda and minutes can be delegated to team members. For each agenda item, focus on:

  • What decisions have been made 
  • What the next steps should be 
  • Who is responsible
  • Deadlines – when it should be done.

CLIENT & PROSPECT MEETINGS

Your client is setting aside time from his or her work, family and social commitments, so recognize and reward that with a productive meeting. For the standard hour meeting, practice the elements that result in a successful interaction. If it helps, set a time schedule for each section so you can plan your meeting.

  • Be clear about the value you offer. Prospects want to know what sets you apart from other advisors in concise examples they can relate to. For existing clients, this is a gentle reminder of why they stay with you.
  • Share a visual explaining your process and make it exciting. I am not talking about a 400-line spreadsheet with built-in calculations. 
  • Put in a “twist” – especially for longtime or legacy clients. Make them feel that the value of this meeting is more than just an account-maintenance visit.
  • Mix it up a bit. Your meetings may have grown stale. Have a small token, a gift, a conversation about past success or a simple story.
  • Take a five-minute break from the nuts and bolts of being a financial advisor to appreciate them, their business and your relationship. Few things can equal the value of a human connection in business.

If what you are doing is working well, fine-tune it to make it better. If what you are doing is not working well, seize the opportunity to put changes into effect to make the most of your time. Prospects, existing clients and your employees will notice and appreciate thoughtful and efficient interactions.

Chris Kirby is a business consultant for Securities America Financial Corp.’s Practice Management Group and serves as a consultant and coach for the firm’s Business Consulting Service, helping advisors manage a more efficient, profitable and satisfying practice.

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