I’ve been lucky enough to witness some fantastic review meetings between planner and clients that have been supportive, emotionally engaging, client-led experiences. On the flip side of that, I’ve observed some that were so fast they were barely ever there.
All firms will have there own preferred review style (which will be carefully documented in their T&C standards) and within that each planner will make the meeting their own but there are a number of key factors that seem to be consistent in the better reviews I’ve seen. Though this isn’t an exhaustive list, they generally had the following in common:
- The client led the conversation and was an equal party in setting the agenda
- As such, there was a balance between who was talking
- The content was tailored to objectives, needs, and desires
- Emotional engagement and emotional intelligence were markedly present
- Clear priorities were set for the year ahead
- Changes in circumstances were handled naturally rather than clunkily
- Where a modelling tool had been used at outset, it was used again to illustrate progress
Those are some of the factors we may expect from a great client experience but one striking thing looking back was how performance data was used.
The clients definitely wanted to hear about their investments but the framing was crucial – it was discussed in the context of how it enabled the clients to live their preferred life.
I appreciate that sounds obvious but, looking back, it’s jarring to me how often that framing is missed.
In the less engaging experiences I’ve witnessed, performance and market movements were very much front and centre – they seemed almost the reason for the meeting. It was as if, because the data was factual, it could be leant on like a crutch. The conversations went….
‘Trump………, China…………, Brexit………, Strength of sterling……. Etc etc’ All potentially reasonable things to mention at the time but the clients invariably sat there glassy-eyed in response.
A reasonable question was raised by one client – ‘Apologies, but what does that mean for me?’ That seems to be a pretty good indication that the review meeting had gone awry.
There are definitely clients that want to hear the detail from us (on top of the 12 market commentaries we probably share with them a year) but even for the most sophisticated of clients that data has context. The context is based on what their money can do for them and the people they care about – it is then a facilitator of lives and lifestyles.
When performance dominates the client review, we may miss the opportunity to fulfil the role that adds the most value to their lives.
This article was written for Professional Paraplanner
By Jon Dodson