A Blog for Today’s Top Financial Advisors

What You Don’t Know About Your Clients Could Hurt You – Episode 8

Key Takeaways:

  • Life happens—your clients’ needs, goals and concerns may have changed a lot since you first began working with them.
  • You need to stay current with your existing clients in order to identify new ways to help them.
  • Conduct a rediscovery meeting to create a seven-part Total Client Profile of your top clients.

Do you know your top clients well—really, really well?

Are you sure?

Chances are, there are gaps in your knowledge of your existing clients—and those gaps between what you think your clients care about and what is actually on their minds could be costing you plenty in lost opportunities to retain key clients and tap additional sources of revenue.

What’s more, it’s pretty likely that your best, most affluent clients work with multiple advisors—and the more successful and wealthier they are, the more likely they are to diversify among various financial professionals. If you don’t have a full picture of your top clients’ financial situation—including assets residing outside of your control—you have no idea if there are potential asset transfer opportunities you can capture to gain greater “wallet share.”

The message: It’s time to reacquaint yourself with your clients—especially your best clients, whom you may assume you understand top to bottom.

In our coaching programs, we encourage financial advisors to conduct what I call rediscovery meetings with their existing clients—including those they’ve been working with for years or even decades.

In these meetings, the advisor sits down with a client and asks him or her questions that allow the advisor to understand the client’s unique situation on a deep level.

The reason to have such meetings with existing clients is simple. So much has happened in the financial markets, the overall economy and the tax laws over the years. Your clients’ situations, concerns and big-picture viewpoints on a whole range of financial issues may have changed—perhaps a little, perhaps a lot.

The aim of the rediscovery meeting is to reconnect with clients by showing them your concern for their well-being and reassuring them that you want to know their situations on a comprehensive level so that you can help them as best as possible. This connection is a key part of building rock-solid, long-term loyalty among your client base.

A rediscovery meeting is similar to an initial discovery meeting you might have with an ideal prospective client. Your rediscovery process goal is to create (or update, as the case may be) a Total Client Profile that identifies all that is most important to the client in seven key areas of his or her life.

This Total Client Profile can then serve as a road map to help ensure the decisions you and your client make support what the client wants most in life.

The seven key areas are:

1) Values. What is truly important to you about your money and your desire for success, and what are the key, deep-seated values underlying the decisions you make to attain these things?

2) Goals. What do you want to achieve over the long run—professionally and personally, practically and audaciously?

3) Relationships. Who are all the people in your life who are important to you—including family, partners, employees and friends?

4) Assets. What do you own—from real estate to investment accounts, restricted stock to retirement plans—and where and how are your assets held?

5) Advisors. Whom do you rely on for advice? As you’ll see below, wealth management is designed to work in partnership with all of your valued advisors.

6) Process. How actively do you like to be involved in managing your financial life, and how do you prefer to work with your valued advisors?

7) Interests. What are your passions in life—including your hobbies, sports and leisure activities; charitable and philanthropic involvements; religious and spiritual proclivities; and children’s schools and activities?

Important: Note that just one of the Total Client Profile’s seven categories concerns assets. Six of the seven are focused on helping you better understand who the client is (and what he or she wants to achieve) as a person, a spouse, a parent and so on.

This makes the rediscovery process a fundamentally different approach than those that focus entirely on clients’ assets and net worth—a difference that the affluent tend to see as refreshing compared to how their other advisors operate.

You might have asked your clients about these issues years ago, but it’s time to find out whether any of their issues and concerns have changed. Having up-to-date information in such areas will enable you to create an accurate, current and comprehensive profile of your clients that you can use to solve the big financial challenges they face today—and bring more value to their lives. It can also give you an opportunity to gather additional assets that you don’t currently have under your roof.

The upshot: It pays to circle back with clients and make sure that there are no gaps between what they want and what you assume they want. Chances are, you’ll learn at least one thing that is new and surprising—and potentially profitable.

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Where you go—and how fast you get there—is up to you.

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