As you build out your business processes, it’s important to identify where a bottleneck could potentially occur. In some cases, this might be you. When you run your own financial planning practice, you end up wearing a lot of hats – it’s normal for a few to do’s to get placed on the backburner. However, in some cases the bottleneck might be your clients – which can prevent you from building a scalable practice.

One of the ways your clients can act as a bottleneck in your practice is during the initial onboarding of a new client. It’s not because a client isn’t excited to work with you! Unfortunately, the majority of Americans avoid admin work like the plague – especially when it involves something as emotionally fraught as their money.

You can help to simplify this process for them by doing a few different things:

  1. Creating backend systems to gather as much information about your new client on your own.
  2. Leveraging existing technology to organize client files – and to simplify onboarding from a client’s perspective.

Prospective Client Meeting Notes

Remember that templates are always your friend, especially when looking to gather new client information. Have a prospective client meeting template readily available to replicate and use for all new clients who are ready to undergo onboarding. This template should outline some of the less tangible financial information you’re looking for, including their:

  • Values
  • Goals
  • Investment philosophy
  • Deep-held feelings about money
  • Account information
  • Financial concerns they may have
  • Vision for their retirement

Feel free to also include any personal information you like to include in your CRM – such as whether they have kids, own pets, or have a specific hobby they’re passionate about. Although this is information you’ll gather over the course of your relationship, it can be helpful to prompt yourself to ask these more personal questions on your template to start laying the foundation for a strong client relationship.

Client Onboarding Workflow

Building out a seamless client onboarding workflow can help you to simplify information gathering for both you and your client. When they know what to expect ahead of time, they’re more likely to follow through with providing you the data you need quickly and efficiently. It’s tempting to believe that by incorporating more technology into your onboarding process, you’ll impress a new client. This isn’t always the case – and allows the potential for inefficiencies in your process where your clients could lag when you need them to return data or additional financial information to you. Finally, the last thing you want to do is overwhelm a new client with multiple logins and technology to use. They’re already feeling vulnerable about their finances, and you don’t want to push them over the edge with too many “to do’s”.

In fact, it can sometimes be better to ditch technology altogether while getting organized with a new client. Incorporating an in-person meeting, when possible, where a client is able to bring in physical copies of their financial paperwork can take a significant amount of pressure off their shoulders. It also allows you to take and organize their data in a way that makes sense to you without having them jump through multiple hoops to fit your mold.

Leverage Your Existing Technology

There are many different technology tools that are marketed toward financial planners. While some of them are incredible, not all of them are necessary. When onboarding a new client, using less tech can work in your favor. If you’re using multiple systems, you increase the probability that your client will input incorrect financial information into at least one of them – which will take extra time.

This also applies to the technology you use on the back end of the onboarding and planning process. Take client meeting notes directly in your CRM, when possible. Build out client workflows and tasks there, as well. If you can’t meet in-person for data gathering, use Dropbox to help your clients to load their files securely, and to use their “file request” feature to allow for easy-document-upload on your client’s end. Maximizing the tools you already have can leave your clients less overwhelmed, and encourage them to be proactive during the initial data gathering process.

Remember: Less Is More

Often times, the simple answer is the right one when it comes to client onboarding. Whether you’re using your existing technology or leveraging a form building tool to gather client data, the more you can simplify your process the better! Overwhelming your team and your clients with a multitude of tools, even if it feels like you’re modernizing your process, is never a good idea. Instead, find a set list of tools and processes that work for your practice, and commit to making them as streamlined as possible.