Our article was published in Barron's.
Too many client meetings end up focusing narrowly on performance, often with clients steering the discussion in the wrong direction. The result is usually an outcome that doesn’t serve the client or the advisor well.
But broadening the discussion, with the help of technology, can enable advisors to deepen and solidify existing relationships, and potentially add new ones. When your meeting touches on topics like lifestyle events, risk behavior, social impact investing and philanthropy, your client may better appreciate your value.
So how can advisors make smooth transitions from performance-focused meetings to more holistic discussions? The following steps can help.
Step 1: Prepare a meeting framework
If a performance-based discussion is not your goal for an upcoming client meeting, seek out lifestyle topics that will resonate with the client and plan the conversations around those topics. Visualize the end of a discussion, or the last page of a reporting packet. Ask yourself if, at the end of the meeting or presentation, your client will reach the desired conclusion.
Remember, in many cases, outperforming the benchmark is the only subject your client can think to discuss. You can take the lead and broaden their horizons.
Step 2: Reduce the amount of performance data shown
If a client won’t refrain from dwelling on performance, limit the scope of the conversation to, for example, consolidated-level performance. Or highlight a few securities or funds. Elaborate on other factors involved with the investment process and explain why those factors are at least as important as performance metrics.
Step 3: Use technology to introduce client-engaging topics
An important element in engaging a client is focusing on the future. Limit the “how we did” discussion and focus on “how we are doing in relation to our goal.” Portfolio accounting, or reporting, software integrated with financial planning tools can provide a client the path from today out to five, 10, or 20 years.
Bear in mind that inputs and assumptions take on a larger role with technology. Simulation tools such as financial planning, risk analysis, and portfolio stress tests are based on client inputs, variables, and assumptions. Make sure clients understand how their inputs impact (future) simulation results. Discussions can be more collaborative in identifying scenarios regarding retirement assumptions, economic situations, and personal goals.
Clients will appreciate how their candid inputs, including concerns, are crucial for successful advisor-client relationships. Income loss, health insurance and the financial condition of aging parents or children can be addressed if clients are candid about such concerns.
Advisors who can successfully engage conversations to include clients’ broad life goals will be rewarded with client retention and prospecting success. Those advisors who stick rigidly to performance-centric meetings should know that clients will become familiar with the latest technology tools and wonder why conversations are stuck in the past. Don’t be that advisor.
Do you need help in using technology to drive your conversations with clients? Contact us for assistance.