FINANCIAL LIFE PLANNING
Meeting The Standards You ’ ve Set For Your Practice
As all business owners know , when you set standards , you set expectations .
YOU PROBABLY HAVE BEEN IN A SITUATION WHERE you were asked , “ How ’ s it going ?” and you responded , “ Great ,” regardless of how it was really going . If so , you understand the quintessential problem in our industry . What does it really mean to do a great job for your clients ? How do you maintain consistency for all your clients while still giving them individualized service ? Is there any way to measure this ?
As many of you know , Wil Heupel and I co-founded Accredited Investors . As we have passed on leadership to our co-managing partners , Becky Krieger and Brian Martin , Wil has taken on the task of working on our client service model . One of the first things he undertook was to develop a scorecard for our standard of care . He pulled in Steve Gilbertson and Brandon Jones , two of the firm ’ s shareholders and wealth managers , and they came up with measurable criteria to ensure that our clients were receiving the level of care they need if our firm is to keep growing . Since one of our objectives is to have a majority of our new clients come from referrals , we wanted to find a way to make sure we were doing what we said we would .
As all business owners know , when you set standards , you set expectations . And it ’ s only the things we can measure that get the most attention . So even though we can look at standards of care , it ’ s harder to measure the quality of our client relationships . ( We ’ ll talk about that in another article .)
When we started to measure these standards of care , we broke them
Even though we can look at standards of care , it ’ s harder to measure the quality of our client relationships . down into five subject areas : Do we have meaningful client interactions ? Are we sending out discussion letters ? Are we completing our high-priority tasks ? Are some tasks overdue ? Are we paying attention to transaction alerts ?
Everything starts , though , with our firm ’ s “ Wealth Management Index .” This is a system that prompts clients with discovery questions . It allows us to dig into the “ why ,” “ what ” and “ how .” It forces us to make sure that we are annually reviewing and advising on all relevant aspects of our clients ’ plans .
Then our standards of care require us to audit the planning itself ( rather than the plans ).
Meaningful Client Interactions
Our standards demand that we have at least three meaningful client interactions a year . This means direct contact with clients where we talk with them about their planning and important topics . It ’ s generally face-to-face , through Zoom meetings or extended phone calls . This doesn ’ t include the information we send them about their investment performance or our views of the market or invites to events ( things most firms should offer without having to ask ).
We also look through the client agendas that have yet to be developed to make sure we are covering what needs to be covered and that we do not have an out-of-date interaction plan .
MAY 2023 | FINANCIAL ADVISOR MAGAZINE | 21