Client onboarding is often the most important process in your financial planning business. As you onboard a new client, you’re gathering information about them, building a deeper connection, and helping them create a financial plan that you’ll assist in implementing. These first few meetings help to lay the foundation for a healthy, long-term client relationship. In short: your client onboarding determines the success you’re going to have with any new client.

For as important as this relationship is – we find that many financial planners struggle with the onboarding process. So how can you build an onboarding process that works for both you and your client? And what mistakes should you avoid?

What the Process Should Look Like

At New Heights Solutions, we recommend that your onboarding process stays consistent across all clients. An idea onboarding process for comprehensive financial planning clients can be completed in five steps:

Step One: Client gives you a verbal agreement to move forward.

Step Two: You send a welcome email that includes next steps and instructions on how you’ll be gathering their necessary data.

Step Three: Agreement and data is sent back to you.

Step Four: You hold a “Strategy Session” meeting where you review that data you’ve received, collect updated information, and discuss client goals.

Step Five: You draft and deliver the plan.

Many advisors overcomplicate their client onboarding process with multiple information-gathering meetings, or by offering different onboarding tools and methods for different client types. By eliminating the inconsistencies in your onboarding process, you’re setting you (and your client) up for success from the get-go.

Take Less Time

It’s easy to assume that the more time you spend with a new client, the better they’ll come to know and appreciate you as a financial planner. We’ve actually found that the opposite is true. When a client reaches out for a comprehensive financial planning experience, they’re looking toward the end-goal: having a comprehensive financial plan, implementing it, and seeing results.

If you drag out the onboarding process, you’re delaying the results of your engagement – which is often off-putting to new clients. The more that you’re able to streamline your client onboarding process, the more you’re showing that you’re capable and that you make doing business with your practice easy. Not only does this make your clients happy, it makes you more referable – which could mean other qualified prospects are coming your way soon!

Use Less Tech

It’s tempting to use several new pieces of tech to onboard clients, but at New Heights Solutions we advocate for maximizing the impact of a handful of tech resources rather than signing up for too many. This helps streamline your process on two levels.

First, using less tech benefits your clients. Many clients input their information into online tools and software incorrectly the first go-around. This creates a bigger workload for you as you go back to confirm and correct their financial information. It also may cause frustration or embarrassment for your new client – which is something no advisor wants to put a client through.

Second, simplifying the tech you use saves you time and money. And who doesn’t need more of that in their financial planning practice? There are several tools the team at New Heights Solutions loves – and many of them do double-duty. Here are a few tools to take a look at when building your client onboarding process:

  • Dropbox for storing client files and requesting files from new clients during onboarding.
  • Zoom for scheduling virtual client meetings.
  • Calendly for scheduling phone calls.
  • Google Forms for collecting answers before, during, or after your client strategy session.

Of course, there are endless tool-options out there, and advisors have to pick what systems are going to work best for them and their clients.

Outsourcing for Best Results

There are several areas where you can outsource your client onboarding process. From scheduling meetings to gathering client information, to working with a paraplanner to design a comprehensive financial plan – outsourcing client onboarding tasks can help you to create a scalable business model that frees you up to talk to prospective clients and build your current-client relationships.

Building a financial planning practice is hard work – but you don’t have to do it alone. Sometimes working with a virtual assistant, or having a process specialist help you to create a simple, repeatable onboarding process can help you stay on the path to success as you scale.

Need Help?

New Heights Solutions is proud to announce our new Client Onboarding Toolkit! This free resource goes over client onboarding best practices for financial planners, offers tips to help streamline your experience, and contains the checklists and templates you need to make onboarding easy.

Ready to get started? Head over here to get your copy!