Forgetting to say “What Comes Next”

It is surprising how few SOAs include even a simple paragraph setting out what comes next. Many, if not in fact most, SOAs do not mention the next meeting with the adviser at all. It is like having a great first date and then not getting his phone number. A missed opportunity.

The best SOAs set out a proposed agenda and timeframe for the next meeting with the client. This is crucial in encouraging your client to see your services as something they benefit from for many years to come.

This long-term vision is something for advisers to remember as well: you should be aiming for a thirty year relationship with each and every client. Things are not ‘done and dusted’ once your initial advice is implemented. Almost certainly, your client’s circumstances will change. And when they do, the need to adjust the financial management strategy will arise. Even if circumstances don’t change, there is never any problem with confirming to a client that they remain ‘on the right track’ and that your initial advice remains your preferred strategy for achieving their financial goals. Most clients like a pat on the back.

Every SOA should include a section headed ‘Our Next Meeting’ or similar. It should then propose a time, place and agenda for that meeting. For example:

Things change. Once we have implemented this initial strategy, it will be very important that we continue to meet regularly to ensure that your financial strategy is always the best strategy for meeting your financial goals. I suggest we meet again in March of next year to discuss (at least) the following:

  • Debt management;
  • The changes to super law that are currently due for release in October 2015;
  • The continuing appropriateness of the waiting periods for your income protection policies;
  • How your eldest child is settling in to University and what financial support she will need from you;
  • Brian’s mother’s needs and how you go about meeting them; and
  • Anything else that arises between now and then.

 I will call you in February to schedule a time that is mutually convenient. But can I also add: if you need to talk to me, don’t wait until then. I am more than happy to meet whenever necessary.

Then, of course, make sure you do make contact in February. And a tip: when you do, don’t ask whether your client wants to meet. Assume that they do. Let them opt out. Call and say something like: “As discussed when we met last year, we need to meet again soon to discuss your financial plan. I am happy to come to your home and have some time available next week. When is a good time for you?”

The French use the term au revoir when they depart. Au revoir actually means ‘Until we meet again.’ So, make sure your SOA says au revoir, not goodbye. Set up that second date.

The Dover Group