Not creating records of conversations and other client instructions

Making a record of conversations is always important. But it is especially important after the SOA has been completed. In one situation, a client complained about the advice not being implemented promptly. The market had risen and the client was annoyed that they had missed out on the growth. The problem was that the adviser cannot prove that the delay in implementation was caused by the client’s oral advice to not proceed and to wait until the market settled.

The simplest way to proceed here is to send an email after each telephone call or other conversation with a client. This can be easily done as follows:

Dear John

It was nice to talk to you today. Just to confirm: you have asked us to hold off on implementing the investment strategy from your SOA dated 1 November 2015 until further notice.

I will give you a call again on Friday of next week to discuss your thoughts about the state of the market. If your thoughts change between now and then, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Unless the client sends back a reply email almost immediately, denying that the contents of the email are an accurate record of what was discussed, he or she will find it very hard to later argue that what is contained in the email is not an accurate record of the conversation.

To put a belt on with your braces, you could even ask your client to confirm that they have received your email. You will need to follow up with them if they do not confirm, however, because if they do not respond they may later argue that the absence of a confirmation indicates that they had not received your email. For that reason, many people prefer not to include such an invitation. Over to you.

For ease of filing, many people use a precise description and date as the subject of the email. For example, the email may be headed “Conversation re deferring implementation, 10 November 2015.” When the email is then saved within the client’s records, this makes that particular email easy to locate. You also know what the email says without needing to open it.

The Dover Group