Advisors are clients too ― we just don't realize it.
But if we did, then we might glean insights from our perspective as clients that would have meaningful bearing on our role as advisors.
To further explain, whether we're meeting professionally with our CPA or personally with our fitness trainer, our objective is usually the same: “Mr. or Ms. Service Professional, please make my life less complicated and save me time.”
But as advisors, do we consistently keep in mind that our clients want that same outcome from us?
We are compensated as advisors to develop strategies or recommendations for our clients to consider implementing. Having said, let’s consider the deliverables which we provide to clients, particularly in the early stages of the relationship.
During this early stage, we’ll typically spend much time fancying plans with the latest and greatest software. While glowing with pride and proud of our thorough, detailed output, we can’t wait for that presentation meeting! The client, we think, surely will be impressed with the granular detail and pages of analytics we’ll be providing as to her present situation and comparatively, our projections for her future.
But the reality all too often is the client leaves that presentation meeting confused and overwhelmed.
Have you had this experience before?
This was us several years back, which is when we realized that our deliverables were those which we as advisors would have expected, and not which our clients expected or even desired.
Today’s financial planning software surely has a place in our practices, but do our clients need those layers of detailed output which the software yields? Or, are we better to use the analytics to derive a neat, clean and transparent summary as to our thoughts and recommendations? Should the client then desire more detail, we can pull the archived reports or analytics from their e-file.
This approach offers some parallels to Steve Jobs' intention with his Apple product(s) and delivery.
Jobs' trademark design was simple, sophisticated and neat. We could express the same by way of a substantive two to four page executive summary; printed to nice paper and offered as a primary deliverable to clients when onboarding.
With this approach in mind, let’s revisit that presentation meeting. What does that meeting look like if our intention is for the client to leave the meeting feeling clarity and motivation rather than frustration and overwhelm? Does your version of this meeting include time-consuming purges through software analytics with your client sitting across from you with a look of malaise? It doesn’t have to.
As with Apple, we should strive to offer a client experience that is a key differentiator in the marketplace.
In our practice, we typically segment each aspect of our planning during our first year in working with clients. Depending on the complexity and scope within each planning area, we'll typically schedule separate meetings to discuss and implement.
Whether building or refining a client's financial house, the required time, focus and effort on the part of a client can often be overwhelming for them. We have found shorter, segmented meetings enhance the client experience, validated with positive client feedback. This approach works in unison with the deliverable.
As our profession navigates these rapidly changing times, our practices should have the capability to pivot given consumer demands to make their lives less complicated and save them time.