Efficiency and consistency are two key elements to any successful financial planning practice. Clients appreciate knowing what to expect from you as their financial planner, and you’ll be able to get more work done (and provide a better client experience) if you work efficiently.
Unfortunately, developing and sticking to efficient and consistent business processes can be difficult. It makes sense – running your own RIA can get busy! It’s easy to fall into the habit of inefficiency, and that’s assuming you had any processes ironed out in the first place.
Before you start overhauling all of your processes, it can be helpful to hold the magnifying glass up to a few key procedures and eliminate inefficiencies there first. To determine where you need to focus your energy, let’s take a look at some of the most common processes that advisors struggle with.
Onboarding New Clients
Signing a new client is an incredibly exciting event. But if you don’t have a simple, streamlined process for onboarding – you’re doing your new client a disservice. Advisors need to have a framework in place for guiding new clients through the onboarding process. This should include an easy way for clients to get you their necessary financial documents, a “welcome” meeting or introduction, and clearly set expectations that define your ongoing relationship. A few things to consider are:
#1: Stop Relying Too Heavily on Technology
Technology is a beautiful thing, but relying on it too heavily can be bad. Most clients will enter their information incorrectly on the first go around. A simple checklist provided by you ahead of time will help them to get organized and will ensure that you get all of the information you need.
#2: Set Deadlines
This goes for both you and your clients. Letting them know that all of their documents and personal information needs to be provided by your next meeting can help to keep everyone on track.
#3: Outline Expectations
Do you expect a response to an email or phone call within a certain period? Are clients allowed to reach out to you outside of your typical meeting times with questions or requests? Outline what your new client can expect from your working relationship throughout the entire planning process before you start working together. This will help to align their expectations with reality, and will make sure everyone is on the same page moving forward.
Raise your hand if you’ve gone back and forth trying to schedule and reschedule a client meeting.
If you’re like most people, this has happened to you at least once! The fact is, everyone is busy these days. It’s tough to coordinate two calendars and find a time that works for both you and your client. However, it’s also exhausting to play phone tag or to try and schedule a meeting via email.
As an advisor, you need to make scheduling meetings a breeze for clients. This helps to ensure your existing clients can access you when they need to, and it makes it easier for prospects to get ahold of you for a consultation.
To make this process as efficient as possible, find a scheduling tool you like – and start using it. Try looking into YouCanBook.Me or ScheduleOnce. Drop a link to this calendar in your email signature, embed the form on your website, and send it to clients when they ask to book a meeting.
CRM Best Practices
We see a lot of confusion happening when it comes to CRMs. More specifically, we see advisors underutilizing them. Seriously, this is an amazing tool – use it to its full capacity! Some common CRM-mistakes we see are:
- Not putting your client info in your CRM as soon as you receive it
- Not recording client correspondence in your CRM
- Failing to combine documents that house client information
If you don’t load your client information into your CRM as soon as you onboard them, you’re creating more work for yourself. For example, when you want to open an investment account for a new client, you need their Social Security Number, employer, date of birth, etc. All of this information can be neatly stored in your CRM – or you can dig through multiple documents to find what you need.
CRMs aren’t just for existing clients – it’s important that you use them to record contact with prospects, as well. Create a note for yourself when you submit a proposal, cold contact someone, or schedule an initial consultation. Then, consider using a tool like FollowUp.cc to prompt you to follow up when you don’t hear back.
It’s tempting to have flexible billing methods for clients. After all, as long as you’re getting paid – what do you care? This logic couldn’t be farther from the truth. While managing different payment methods and schedules may seem reasonable when your client base is small, it isn’t a scalable process.
As you grow, you’re going to want to strike a balance between flexibility and consistency. Finding a process that allows you to automate and easily replicate your billing procedure will ensure that your clients have consistent expectations, know how to pay you, and improve the number of people who pay you on time (or early).
Reviewing and revising your own processes can be a challenge. That’s why New Heights Solutions recently launched a Full Procedure Review and Documentation service for RIAs. We know it’s important to not only iron out processes that work for your unique business model, but to document them to keep you organized and on track.