Strategy 5: 

Nail The Wealthy Client Experience

Strategy 5 Contents

1. The Total Client Profile

2. Introduction to Client Meetings

3. Discovery Meeting, Pt. 1

4. Discovery Meeting, Pt. 2

5. Discovery Meeting, Pt. 3

6. Investment Meeting

7. Mutual Commitment Meeting

8. The 45 Day Follow Up Meeting

9. Regular Progress Meeting

10. Rediscovery Progress Meeting

11. Key Success Factors in a Set Capture

12. The Second Opinion Service: Making The Offer

13. The Second Opinion Service: Following Up Effectively

14. The Total Client Model

15. The Transformative Potential of The Total Client Model

16. Making it Real: Identify Your 10 Best Clients

17. What it Takes to Be Client Centered

18. Spotting Ways to Better Serve Your Affluent Clients

19. Connecting On What Matters Most

20. Position Your Investment Philosophy: Framing The Solutions

21. The Easiest Path Forward: Harvesting The Low Hanging Fruit

22. The Easiest Path Forward: The Asset Capture

23. Making It Real: Capture More Assets

24. Success is in Your Hands: Its Time to Implement

 Resources

Strategy 5: Nail the Wealthy Client Experience sets the foundation for your simple and elegant wealth management business. Through your wealth management process, you will attract, serve, delight and retain affluent clients—all while setting yourself clearly apart from your competition.

To start, we will provide context by comparing wealth management to the other major business model in use today. We will then provide you with the wealth management formula—our quick sketch of wealth management that will make it easy for you to describe to clients, prospective clients and other professional advisors.

From there, we will take you, step by step, through each of the five client meetings of the wealth management process. We’ll follow that with proven approaches for effectively attracting both additional assets to manage and introductions to qualified prospective clients as part of your wealth management process.

By the end, you will have implemented a world-class client experience that will attract affluent clients and turn your current clients into raving fans.

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Nail The Wealthy Client Experience Audio

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Nail The Wealthy Client Experience Transcript

Tools

Tools for Strategy 5:

Nail the Wealthy Client Experience

Wealth Management Process and Formula — Graphic overviews of the wealth management process and formula. May be customized with your firm name and logo.

Total Client Profile Interview Guide (Word) — The interview guide for conducting the discovery interview (Word version).

Total Client Profile Interview Guide (PDF) — The interview guide for conducting the discovery interview (PDF version).

Total Client Profile Sample (Hand drawn) — A sample Total Client Profile mind map in original hand drawn form.

Total Client Profile Sample (SmartDraw) — A sample Total Client Profile mind map created using SmartDraw.

Wealth Management Tracker — A form that enables you and your team to closely track a client or prospective client’s progress through the wealth management process. May be completed as a fillable PDF or printed and completed by hand.

Wealth Management Meetings Agendas, Letters and Scripts — Templates for all agendas and letters/emails along with recommended scripting for each meeting.

Total Client Profile Mind Map Templates — Templates for creating Total Client Profile mind maps in both Word and MindManager formats.

Second-Opinion Service Tools — A template for a second-opinion service flyer, templates for making the second-opinion offer via email and a letter for contacting prospective clients on the Do Not Call list.

2020 Wealth Management Plan — Sample investment plan, IPS and advanced plan. Data is updated through December 31, 2019.

Online Wealth Management Meetings — Templates for emails and agendas for conducting meetings online.

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Wealth Management

Process & Formula Template

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Total Client Profile Interview Guide Word Download

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Total Client Profile Interview Guide PDF Download

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Total Client Profile Sample

(Hand Drawn)

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Total Client Profile Sample

(Smart Draw)

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Wealth Management Tracker

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Wealth Management Meetings, Agendas, & Letters 

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Total Client Profile Mind Map Templates 

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Second Opinion Service Tools

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Online Wealth Management Meetings

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2020 Wealth Management Plan 

1. The Total Client Profile

The foundation of wealth management is your ability to truly know and understand your clients. While you are probably sure that you know most of your clients fairly well, the reality is that if you are like the majority of financial advisors, you still do not have enough understanding of your clients (or prospective clients) to be able to consistently make the on-target wealth management recommendations they need. Instead of having the information you need, you may have the wrong information or not enough information at all—even though you think you know your clients quite well.

Creating the Total Client Profile

To determine your clients’ and prospective clients’ needs, you must comprehend their entire financial pictures. These go far beyond specific asset management or estate planning requirements and into the realm of their most important values, relationships and lifelong dreams. Uncovering these will be the critical skill that you bring to the table: To excel as a wealth manager, you must excel at profiling your clients and prospective clients. In fact, the Total Client Profile will become one of your most important tools for building deep client relationships.

Nearly all financial advisors use some type of fact-finding process when first meeting with clients or prospective clients. However, these questions usually focus on assets and net worth and do relatively little to uncover who the clients really are. In contrast, the Total Client Profile consists of seven categories—only one of which concerns assets—to help ensure that you delve into all key areas. See Exhibit 5.1 for an overview.

You will create a Total Client Profile for each qualified prospective client or client during the Discovery Meeting, the first meeting in the wealth management process. We will describe this entire meeting in detail in the following sections.

To build the profile, you will ask a series of questions in each of the seven categories. Our recommended Total Client Profile interview guide is below and is also available for download from the Tools section of this strategy. We encourage you to become extremely familiar with this interview guide and be comfortable asking every single question.

Resources

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Total Client Profile Transcript

Total Client Profile Interview Guide

Values

  • What’s important to you about money?

  • What in particular is important to you about that value?

  • Is there anything more important than that value?

Goals

  • What are your top accomplishments? What would you like them to be?

  • What are your personal goals?

  • What are your professional goals?

  • What do you do (or want to do) for your children?

  • What do you do (or want to do) for your parents?

  • What do you do (or want to do) for other family members or close friends?

  • What do you want to do for the world at large?

  • Ideally, where would you like to be when you are 45? 55? 65? 75?

  • What are your quality-of-life desires (houses, travel, boats, cars)?

  • What would you like to achieve with your money?*

  • In dollar figures, how much money do you need or want?

  • When you think about your money, what concerns, needs or feelings come to mind?*

  • If you didn’t have to work anymore, what would you do?

Relationships

  • Which family member relationships (spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc.) are the most important ones to you?

  • How important are your relationships with people you work with?

  • How important are your relationships with people in the community?

  • What is your religious orientation? How devout are you? How important are your relationships with people associated with your religion?

  • Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?

  • What pets do you have? How important are they to you?

  • What schools did you go to? How important is your relationship with these schools?

Assets

  • What is your source of income (privately held business, employer, profession)?

  • How do you make money today? How is that likely to change in the next three years?

  • How do you save or set aside money to invest? How is that likely to change in the next three years?

  • What are your investment holdings? Explain your strategy for handling your investments in the way you do.

  • What benefits do you get from your workplace?

  • What life insurance do you have?

  • What property do you have (real property, artwork, jewelry)?

  • How are your assets structured now?

  • What new assets do you expect to receive (for example, from inheritances or stock options)?

  • What is your opinion of taxes? What kinds of taxes bother you the most?

  • When you think about your finances, what are your three biggest worries?

  • What were your best and worst financial moves? What happened?

Advisors

  • Do you have a lawyer? How do you feel about the relationship?

  • Do you have a life insurance agent? How do you feel about the relationship?

  • Do you have an accountant? How do you feel about the relationship?

  • Do you have an investment advisor? How do you feel about the relationship?

  • Do you have a financial planner? How do you feel about the relationship?

  • What were your best and your worst experiences with a professional advisor?

  • Of late, how frequently have you switched professional advisors?

Process

  • How involved do you like to be in managing your finances?*

  • How many face-to-face meetings would you want over the course of a year?

  • How often would you like phone updates on your situation?

  • Do you want a call about your personal situation when there is a sudden change in the market?

  • Do you prefer our written communications to you to be by letter or by email?

  • What security measures do you want to see used to protect your personal and financial information?

  • How often do you want an overall review of your financial situation and progress toward your goals?

  • Whom else do you want involved in the management of your finances (spouse, other advisors such as accountant or an attorney)?

  • How important to you is the confidentiality of your financial affairs?*

Interests

  • Do you follow sports? Which are your favorite teams?

  • What are your favorite types of TV programs and movies?

  • What do you read?

  • Do you have health concerns or interests? What is your health program?

  • Are working out and fitness important to you? What is your program?

  • What are your hobbies?

  • What would an ideal weekend be?

  • What would an ideal vacation be?

  • What charitable causes do you donate to? Volunteer for?

*Indicates questions that determine high-net-worth personality.

We recommend that you ask every single question exactly as it is written in the interview guide for your first 20 Discovery (or Rediscovery) Meetings. If you need to ask additional questions to gain additional clarity, that’s fine, but do not modify or drop any of the questions in the interview guide during these first meetings.

With 20 Discovery or Rediscovery Meetings under your belt, you will have enough experience to begin to test modifications to the Total Client Profile interview questions. If you make changes that yield a broader or deeper insight into your clients, please let your CEG Worldwide coach know. We will test the questions ourselves and build them into the interview guide if our testing shows positive results.

Understanding The Rationale of Each Question

Every question in the Total Client Profile interview guide is designed to reveal key information that will help you astutely manage the client’s investments, identify and address advanced planning issues, and build a trusted relationship with the client. The chart below provides the specific rationale for each question.

Documenting the Total Client Profile with Mind Mapping

As you proceed through the interview, we recommend that you use mind mapping to create a graphic representation of the Total Client Profile. Mind mapping was first developed in the 1960s by Tony Buzan, an expert on the brain and learning, to help students take notes by using only key words and images. For working with a client during the discovery process, mind mapping has important advantages over traditional note taking:

  • It helps you to drill down to the client’s key issues faster and more accurately.

  • It captures information quickly yet in a highly organized format.

  • It makes it easy to link and cross-reference very different yet connected pieces of the client’s financial picture.

  • It involves clients more deeply in the discovery process, motivating them to provide you with all the information you need to complete their client profiles.

  • It provides a basis for moving forward, with clear goals and next steps.

  • It provides you with a document that is fast and easy to review.

  • It is an excellent starting point for brainstorming solutions with members of your network of professional advisors.

There are four elements to every mind map:

  1. The subject. This is the center of attention and focus of the entire map. For wealth managers, the subject is the client or prospect.

  2. Major themes. These are major topics that radiate from the subject. For most clients or prospects, these themes should correspond with the seven categories of the Total Client Profile: values, goals, relationships, assets, advisors, process and interests.

  3. Branches. These connect the subject and major themes with each other and with associated details.

  4. Structure. The entire structure of the mind map is held together by the branches, forming an interconnected picture.

In addition to these major components, mind maps can include any other graphic elements that will help to fully capture both hard information and nuance. These might include symbols, call-outs, colors, boxes, circles and arrows—the only limit is your imagination.

To create a Total Client Profile using mind mapping, use an artist’s pad or notepad (preferably with unlined paper). Start by writing down the client’s name in the center of the paper and circling it. Then begin your discovery interview. Your first topic is the client’s values, so “values” near the client’s name, circle it and connect it back to the client’s name with a line. As you uncover the client’s most important values, note these and connect them with one another as appropriate. You may find that you need several levels of detail to accurately capture the client’s responses.

As you progress through the interview, do not let the mind map constrain your conversation. It is intended to do just the opposite: to trigger connecting questions, stimulate subsequent thoughts and capture random yet important details. You do not need to “finish” one branch before moving on to other topics. Instead, let the map flow along with your discussion. Look for fact patterns—sets of facts that are conditional on one another.

We have found that most clients enjoy the interview/client-profiling process and like seeing their financial situations presented in a graphical way. Many will actively help you to fill in any holes or gaps in key information. By the time you have completed your interview, you will have a profile that has captured the most important issues, is packed with relevant detail and suggests the next steps.

Click the image to see an enlarged image of a sample Total Client Profile in handwritten form. This illustrates a typical completed mind map—what you would expect upon completion of your discovery interview.

After the Discovery Meeting, have an assistant transfer your handwritten Total Client Profile to your computer system by using a mind mapping software program. See the Resources section for a listing of major mind mapping programs.

 

Click the image to see an enlarged image of a sample of a Total Client Profile created using a software program. This sample shows you what the hand drawn mind map looks like after it has been created with a software program. This was created using SmartDraw, a popular mind mapping program. You can download templates for creating your Total Clients in both Word and MindManager, another popular mind mapping program, from the Tools section.

Identifying Values Effectively

Of the seven categories that make up the Total Client Profile, the most important is the one representing the client’s values. In fact, one of the most important conversations you can ever have with clients or prospective clients is about their values.

Why are values so powerful? Because they are one of the core motivations for everything we do in our lives. They have a profound impact on every important decision we make, from what we choose to do for a living to whom we marry to how we spend our free time—in short, who we are as people.

For example, most people who are parents would tell you that they value their children above almost everything else in the world. As a result, they want to protect them, to educate them well and to set them on a smooth path in life. Financially speaking, one of the things many of these parents want to do is build an adequate college fund for their children. This is a common goal known to every financial advisor. But underlying that goal is the fundamental value of loving their children.

As important as values are, however, most people are not particularly good at articulating them. While they act definitively on their values, most have not necessarily thought deeply about exactly what those values are. So when you ask your clients to identify their core values, you not only uncover exactly where your own focus should be in assisting those clients, you also help them to clarify their direction and what they want to achieve in life.

The Total Client Profile interview guide will help you uncover your clients’ values systematically. It leverages work done by social psychologists and developmental psychologists during the late 1960s and early 1970s. As an industry, we’re indebted to Bill Bachrach and his “values-based selling” approach for making this work on values clarification accessible to financial advisors.

The values section of the interview begins with the question, “What’s important to you about money?” Assuming, for this example, that the client answers, “Security,” you would then ask, “What is important to you about security?” If the client responds, “Knowing that I can take care of my family,” you would then ask, “What is important to you about taking care of your family?”

You would continue uncovering the client’s values in this way until you think you have heard his or her final answer. Then you would ask the confirming question: “Is there anything more important to you than (the last value mentioned)?” If the client says “Yes,” then ask, “What is more important?” and continue with the questioning format. Once the client answers “No,” you will have likely uncovered the client’s single most important value.

While this is straightforward on the surface, it’s important to realize that it takes skill to drill down to the client’s most important value. In fact, most advisors tend to do only partial values conversations, ending them before the core values have been identified.

It’s useful to know that there are generally three levels to every values conversation:

  • Level one. This level is about the basic self, including issues such as security, financial freedom and not having to worry about paying the bills.

  • Level two. This level is about others, including family, friends and community.

  • Level three. This level is about the higher self, including issues of faith, destiny and reasons for being.

Many financial advisors end the values conversation at level two or even level one. However, you have to persevere through to level three. You can encourage the client to move to the next level by matter-of-factly observing, “We’re not done.” You will usually know that the client has reached level three and that the conversation is nearly over when he or she moves into abstract, or even esoteric, territory. You want to reach a point where you are talking about something that deeply inspires the client.

Determining High-Net-Worth Personality

As you proceed through the Total Client Profile interview, you have the opportunity not only to gather key information about each client or prospective client, but also to determine his or her high-net-worth personality.

As you will recall from Strategy 2: Implement Wealth Management, affluent clients tend to fall into one of nine different high-net-worth personality types. Each type brings unique needs and perspectives to the table. By understanding which personality each of your affluent clients has, you will be able to communicate and meet their needs much more effectively.

Built into the Total Client Profile are four questions that are designed to reveal the high-net-worth personality. Each question is open-ended, so you may need to ask only one to pinpoint the personality, or you may need to go through all four.

 

1. “What would you like to achieve with your money?”

This question will reveal two different personality types:

  • The Family Steward, whose primary motivation is to protect his or her family in every way possible, including financially. Family Stewards will answer this question with full explanations of everything they would like to do for their families, such as funding college for children or estate planning to ensure harmonious division of their assets among family members.

  • The Independent, whose primary goal is personal freedom. In response to this question, Independents will tell you about their achieving financial independence in order to pursue their dreams, such as early retirement or a vacation home.

 

2. “When you think about your money, what concerns, needs or feelings come to mind?”

This question will help you identify these three types:

  • The Accumulator, who has more financial knowledge than most other types and is focused solely on accumulating additional assets. What Accumulators will do with these assets is secondary; they are just driven to acquire them.

  • The Mogul, who values money for the power it gives. Because they like to control people and their surroundings, Moguls’ responses will be all about having more money in order to have more control.

  • The VIP, who is status-oriented, desiring to be recognized and acknowledged for his or her possessions and lifestyle. The VIP will answer this question in terms of how money is important for what it can buy and the status it can confer.

 

3. “How involved do you like to be in managing your finances?”

This question will reveal these personalities:

  • The Phobic, who dislikes and even fears investing. Because they are intimidated by investing, Phobics’ answers will be all about the worry and burden they feel around it. Many will simply try to change the subject completely.

  • The Gambler, who loves investing and is extremely knowledgeable about it. Because it is very often their hobby, Gamblers will answer this question by talking about the excitement of investing and the thrill of market volatility.

  • The Innovator, like the Gambler, knows and loves investing. But rather than being attracted to the emotion of investing, the Innovator is drawn to its intellectual challenge. The Innovator’s answer will reveal technical sophistication and a desire to be on the cutting edge of investing trends.

4. “How important to you is the confidentiality of your financial affairs?”

Your final question will pinpoint just one personality, the Anonymous. While confidentiality is important to all groups, the Anonymous are fanatical about it. They are extremely concerned about personal security and look for constant assurance that their advisors will protect the integrity of their information. Their answers to this question will clearly indicate this intense focus on confidentiality.

The answers you receive will give you a clear idea of the personality that you are working with, but you should follow up with an additional question or statement to confirm that your first impression is valid. These “trial balloon” questions should reiterate what you understand, albeit with a bit of hesitation so that you are not locked in.

Here is an example of a trial balloon that you might use with a client you believe is a Family Steward:

“Let me make sure I’ve got this right. It seems your family’s well-being is your primary concern. We’re going to create a portfolio that’s focused on your family, that’s going to really take care of them long term. Is that your goal?”

Watch and listen closely to the client’s reaction. The client will either respond positively, confirming that you are correct, or negatively. In the latter case, return to the four questions to get more information.

Here are some other trial-balloon questions to use with prospects who may be one of the remaining high-net-worth personality types:

Phobics

“I get the feeling you’re not that comfortable with investing. Is that true? That’s okay, because I am, and I am going to do my best to make sure that your goals are met so that you don’t have to worry.”

Independents

“It’s really important to you to have the investment resources in the bank to make sure you can do what you want. From talking to you, I sense that what you want is the freedom to do whatever you want. Maybe retire at 55 and pursue some hobby or interest. Is that right?”

The Anonymous

“You operate similarly to the way I work with my clients. My key concern is that confidential information stays confidential. When we work together, you can rest assured that confidentiality is one of my highest priorities.”

 

Moguls

“I feel that you want to be in ultimate control of everything we do together. My job is to make sure that you have the best advice and information in order to make the big decisions. Do I have that right?”

VIPs

 

“It’s important that you know we work with some of the biggest names in the investment management industry. People who are at the same level as you. People who know and understand the appropriate investments for someone in your position.”

Accumulators

“It seems to me that you are very astute about money. You know how to save it and how to make it grow. I enjoy working with clients like you, and I’m going to do my best to make sure we create an investment strategy to make the most money possible. Are we on the right track? Is that what you want from a financial advisor?”

Gamblers

“Investing is exciting for you, just like it is for me. I love everything about investing: whether it’s finding a great stock, watching CEOs on CNBC or doing research on financials. Together, we can make sure we keep up with all the events going on. I sense that your ideal advisor is one who is as excited about the process of investing as you are.”

 

Innovators

“You have a great deal of knowledge about investing, and it’s very important to you to use state-of-the-art investment approaches. That’s precisely what my firm and I, in particular, specialize in.”

(Source of the high-net-worth personality diagnostic system: Russ Alan Prince and Brett Van Bortel, The Millionaire’s Advisor™, 2003.)

Handling Difficult Questions

There are two questions in the Total Client Profile interview guide that some financial advisors feel uncomfortable asking. Rather than skipping these questions, we suggest that you understand the reasons for those questions and how asking them can help you to serve your clients better. Here are those questions and the rationale behind them:

  • What is your religious orientation? How devout are you? Many people are passionate about their religion, and it often has a material effect on their finances. Without asking about it, you might never uncover this. For instance, when one financial advisor we work with inquired about a prospective client’s religious orientation, he found out that her biggest goal in life was to start a charitable organization in Israel. A successful businesswoman, she also wanted to hand over her business to her son so that she could head up the charity. These are critical insights, but they did not come out in the discovery interview at all until the financial advisor asked about her religion.

  • Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert? The answer to this question should give you a better understanding of how you can best support and communicate with the client. For example, a client who is an introvert may not prefer to attend large client events, but may appreciate smaller, more personal gatherings.

Digging Deeper to Uncover Opportunities

In most cases, you will find that the Total Client Profile interview guide is a starting point only. As each conversation progresses, your questions should build on the information you are gathering, to pinpoint issues of particular importance to the client or prospect. You may find it useful to organize your thinking by breaking out your questions by type:

  • Questions that obtain information. These questions are designed to jog clients’ memories and motivate them to share their information. (Examples: What life insurance do you have? Do you have an accountant? What benefits do you receive from your workplace?)

  • Questions that test comprehension. You need to ensure that clients are making informed decisions, based on a clear understanding of their issues. Any question that requires the client to rephrase, interpret, compare or add additional detail will accomplish this objective. (Example: Given the current structure of your family business, how do you think your ESOP is working for you?)

  • Questions that require analysis and evaluation. These questions will help you understand the personal, subtle and often sensitive issues clients have around their finances. (Examples: What family relationships are most important to you? Since you’re uncomfortable with your children inheriting your money all at once, how do you want that money administered and over what time frame?)

  • Questions that move the process forward. It is more effective to skillfully use questions to move the client or prospect to the next stage of working with you than it is to simply make assertions. (Examples: Whom else do you want involved in your decision making and in managing your finances? When would be a good time for us to review your alternatives?)

Using the techniques presented here, you will be able to create accurate, detailed pictures of your clients and prospective clients using the Total Client Profile. As you will see throughout this strategy, the Total Client Profile will help support your entire wealth management process.

2. Introduction to the Client Meetings

When you provide a world-class experience for your clients, and do so consistently, year in and year out, you will deliver on a value promise that competitors will find extremely difficult to touch.

However, there’s a substantial challenge in basing your value promise on your client experience: You must have systems in place to deliver the experience consistently and cost-effectively. Without these systems, you create a nightmare of endless rounds of one-offs.

To meet this challenge, you will implement a systematic process and then replicate it again and again. This process will enable you to provide true mass customization: While your systems will function like an assembly line in the background, each client and prospective client will experience it as a true custom experience that addresses their unique needs.

We believe you will find the wealth management process to have one of the most significant impacts on your business that you have ever experienced. This is what you can expect:

  • You will be perfectly positioned to leverage your core competency in client relationship management.

  • You will systematically build trusted, high-quality relationships with clients.

  • You will uncover your clients’ true financial issues with a high degree of accuracy, which in turn will enable you to determine the appropriate actions for addressing those issues.

  • You will delight your clients, who will be more likely to provide both additional assets to manage and introductions to qualified prospects. This in turn will lead to greater revenue and, ultimately, a substantially higher net income.

  • Because the process is systematic and replicable process, you can offer it in a relatively cost-effective manner, increasing your profit margin.

The wealth management process is built around a series of five meetings with each client. (See Exhibit 5.2 for an overview.) To assist you and your team in executing on the process, we have created a wealth management tracker that is available for download from the Tools section of this strategy.

3. Discovery Meeting, Pt. 1

Resources

The first client meeting in the wealth management process, the Discovery Meeting, is focused on gaining complete, in-depth understanding of the prospective client so that you can make appropriate investment recommendations and later guide your professional network in providing advanced planning recommendations. As you gain this understanding, you will also begin to build the foundation for a trusting, long-term relationship with the individual or couple.

Goals of the Discovery Meeting

  • To immediately establish trust by positioning yourself as an authority in addressing the financial concerns of members of your niche community

  • To differentiate yourself from your competition through your superior client experience

  • To uncover the client or prospective client’s most important financial issues and to determine his or her high-net-worth personality

  • To collect all information necessary to assess suitability for your services

  • If appropriate, to collect all information necessary to complete an investment plan and advanced plan

  • To begin to position yourself as a personal chief financial officer

  • To begin to build a deeper personal connection by sharing your personal story.

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Discovery Meeting Transcript

Preparation for the Discovery Meeting

You have acquired a prospective client through your own acquaintance, an introduction from an existing client, a strategic alliance, a presentation or conversion of an existing client and have scheduled the Discovery Meeting.

To ensure that the meeting is as productive as possible, send a letter to the prospective client that confirms the meeting and lists the information you need him or her to bring to the meeting. You should send this letter immediately after scheduling the meeting.

The following is a sample Discovery Meeting confirmation letter. (We will address all our sample correspondence and scripts for our meetings to our new affluent client, “Joe H.N.W. Client.”) You will find a customizable template for this letter and all communications we recommend for the wealth management process in the Tools section of this strategy.

"Dear Joe,

This letter is to confirm our appointment for Wednesday, April 23 at 9:00 a.m. in our offices. I have enclosed a map and driving instructions for your convenience. Please plan on the meeting lasting about 90 minutes.

At our meeting, we will ask you a series of questions to really understand what is most important to you, what you would like to accomplish and what keeps you awake at night. We will determine where you are now, where you want to be and any gaps or obstacles that stand in the way. It’s our chance to get a very clear picture of you so that we can guide you in how best to achieve your most important goals.

To help us obtain a comprehensive view of your financial situation, please bring the following:

  1. Your last two years’ income tax returns

  2. Any recent financial statements prepared for refinancing, etc.

  3. Current bank statements, if any

  4. Current mutual fund statements, if any

  5. Current brokerage statements, if any

  6. Current mortgage statements, if any

  7. Current life insurance policies, if any

  8. Current employee benefit statements, including those for 401(k) or other retirement plans, if any

  9. Any wills or trust documents

  10. Anything else you believe would be useful for me to gain a better understanding of your financial situation

Please bring in the originals of each of the documents. My staff will make copies while we are meeting.

If you have problems locating any of the information, please give me a call so we can help direct you to the proper source to obtain the necessary information.

We look forward to exploring how we might be able to assist you in achieving your financial goals.

Sincerely,
Financial Advisor to the Affluent

In addition, prepare an agenda for the meeting. All pilots, no matter how proficient, use a pre-flight checklist to ensure that they have checked every system and performed every key task, As a top financial advisor, you should have your own checklist—an agenda—in front of you for every meeting.

While some financial advisors mail the agenda to the prospective client in advance of the meeting, we recommend that you simply review it with him or her at the beginning of each meeting. The following is a sample of the agenda you would use for the Discovery Meeting.

Discovery Meeting Agenda

Mr. Joseph H.N.W. Client

Wednesday, April 23
9:00 a.m.

  1. Ideal outcome for our meeting

  2. Overview of agenda

  3. Total Client Profile interview

  4. Review of financial paperwork

  5. Assessment of ability to add value

  6. Overview of next steps in our wealth management process

  7. Definition of wealth management

  8. Schedule the Investment Plan Meeting, if appropriate

In final preparation for the Discovery Meeting, place five things on the desk or table where you will meet with the prospective client:

 

  1. The agenda for the meeting. A customizable template for this agenda and all other wealth management meeting agendas are available for download from the Tools section of this strategy.

  2. A copy of the Total Client Interview guide. Both Word and PDF versions of interview guide may be downloaded from the Tools section.

  3. A flip chart or artist’s pad of unlined paper for creating the mind map.

  4. A two-page graphic overview of your wealth management process and wealth management formula. An overview that you may customize with your firm name and logo is available for download from the Tools section.

  5. A digital voice recorder (or phone with voice recorder). This allows you to easily upload the sound file to be inexpensively transcribed by an online transcription service. Record only the Total Client Profile interview portion of the Discovery Meeting, not any other parts of any other meetings in the wealth management process. Important: Some firms do not allow client meetings to be recorded, so before making any recordings, be certain to get authorization from your compliance group and to find out the retention requirements for the recordings.

 

Overview of Discovery Meeting steps

  1. Greet the prospective client by name, using a formal greeting.

  2. Acknowledge the prospective client’s desire to explore working together.

  3. Explain the ideal outcome of the meeting and how you will conduct the meeting.

  4. Conduct the values and goals sections of the Total Client Profile interview as you begin to create a mind map.

  5. Pause to assess whether you could add substantial value to the prospective client’s situation.

  6. Conduct the remainder of the Total Client Profile while you complete the mind map.

  7. Describe the next steps in your process.

  8. Define wealth management.

  9. Tell your personal story.

  10. Schedule the next meeting.

  11. Send confirmation for the next meeting.

4. Discovery Meeting, Pt. 2

Detailed steps and scripts for the Discovery Meeting

Step 1. Greet the prospective client by name.

Have every employee who might come into contact with the prospective client, such as your receptionist and/or another team member assisting you in the Discovery Meeting, greet the person by name, using a formal greeting. This shows that you have prepared for the meeting and are focused on the client every step of the way.

Good morning, Mr. Prospective Client. We’ve been looking forward to seeing you today. Mr. Financial Advisor will be right with you.

Depending on what is more generally accepted in your part of the country or the world, you may want to use either an informal or a more formal greeting style.

Offer appropriate beverages and reading material in your lobby. Ideally, the reading material will be copies of articles you have written, along with lifestyle magazines focused on topics of interest to your target market, such as sailing, fine architecture or luxury travel. Avoid personal finance magazines. Likewise, if you have a TV in your waiting area, play lifestyle DVDs or tune it to the Travel Channel—not CNBC. This sets the stage for what you are all about as a financial advisor: helping your clients to achieve their financial dreams.

Step 2. Acknowledge the prospective client’s desire to explore working together.

Because it is very important to position yourself as an authority, do not thank the prospective client for attending the meeting. Instead, simply recognize his or her willingness to consider working with you:

“Joe, I am very much looking forward to exploring your financial goals with you to determine whether we are the right firm to help you in achieving those goals. We limit our practice to successful families in (insert your niche here) for whom we can make a significant impact. If we’re not the right firm for doing this, we promise to point you in the right direction.”

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Resources

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Discovery Meeting Pt.2 Audio

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Discovery Meeting Pt.2 Transcript

Step 3. Explain the ideal outcome of the meeting and how you will conduct the meeting.

Set the stage for what you want to accomplish by stating the ideal outcome for the meeting. As you do, ask for buy-in from the prospective client. Describe it like this:

“I’d like to start by setting out what the ideal outcome for our meeting would be. We want to gain a deep understanding of what matters most to you as well as the challenges you face in accomplishing your most important goals. This will help us know whether we’re the right firm to assist you in making even smarter decisions about your money. If we are, it will also help us to create a wealth management plan for you. How does that sound to you?”

Now refer to your agenda to walk through each step of the meeting, briefly describing what will happen at each step. If your firm allows you to record the meeting, explain why you want to make the recording:

“Joe, I’m going to ask you a series of questions around seven major themes so that I understand where you are now, where you want to go and what the gaps are.

“To ensure that I capture everything and so that I can focus on your responses, I’m going to record our conversation. This recording is confidential and will be for internal use only.”

If the prospective client asks for a copy of the recording, be sure to supply one.

Step 4. Conduct the values and goals section of the Total Client Profile interview as you begin to create a mind map.

Once the client is ready, turn on your recorder and kick off the interview like this:

“I’m here with Joe H.N.W. Client on Wednesday, April 23. The following is a recording of our discovery interview.”

Refer to your Total Client Profile interview guide as needed to ensure that you ask each question in the first two categories. Be ready to ask probing follow-up questions as appropriate. As your prospective client speaks, begin to draw the mind map.

If you are recording the interview, you may be tempted to skip creating the mind map at the same time, believing that this will enable you to better focus on the prospect and his or her answers. We strongly encourage you to always create the mind map as you conduct the interview. Not only is it much more time efficient than creating it later, it will help you make connections and see gaps in the prospective client’s financial picture that you might otherwise miss. In addition, it will help the prospective client become more invested in the process—many will volunteer information to help you complete the map that you would not have otherwise heard. In short, rather than distracting from the interview, mind mapping will greatly enhance its effectiveness.

Step 5. Assess whether you could add substantial value to the prospective client’s situation.

Once the values and goals sections are complete, take a moment to calculate what you will be able to contribute to the prospective client’s financial life. Ask for the financial documentation and briefly review in a nonjudgmental manner. You want to determine if he or she is suitable for your services as well as to see if there is anything in the documentation that will prompt additional questions. If you believe at this point that you could add substantial value, ask your assistant to photocopy the financial documents. Then go on to the next step.

If you believe that you could not add substantial value, inform the prospective client that yours may not be the best firm to assist him or her; then recommend a more appropriate firm. Explain it like this:

“Right now I’m not sure that we’re the right firm for you. Given what you’ve shared with me, I’d recommend Firm XYZ. I’d be happy to give them a call and set up a meeting for you there.”

The prospective client will likely want to know why you believe that you are not the right firm for him or her. Very often it will be because the individual does not meet your minimum assets requirement. When this is the case, say this:

"When we turn away potential clients, it is typically because they don’t have sufficient assets to meet our minimum fee. With our minimum fee of (insert your minimum fee here), I don’t think we’d make a big enough impact now to justify that fee. We always want to make an impact well above what we charge, but we would not be able to do that here.”

Prospective clients will often ask coming back to meet with you when they do have enough assets. Of course tell them that you will be happy to meet with them again when it’s appropriate. Interestingly, these people often turn out to be excellent sources of client introductions because they have witnessed how exclusive you are. They have never before been turned away by a financial professional.

Also at this point, if you have any reason to believe that you may not be “connecting” with the prospective client but you believe that he or she is qualified for your services, take a moment to gain a pre-commitment for moving forward. Simply say this:

“I just want to check in with you at this point. If we could design a wealth management plan that helps you to achieve all that is important to you, including (name his or her most important values and goals), would that be a basis for us working together?”

Assuming that the prospective clients agrees that you would have a basis for working together, move on to the next step.

When a prospective client fails to bring financial paperwork

On rare occasions, a prospective client may forget—or be unwilling—to bring to the Discovery Meeting the financial paperwork you requested. You can handle this in one of three ways:

We encourage you to experiment with all three until you find the one that you are most comfortable with. Prospective clients showing up unprepared is rare, but you will need to find a way to handle this challenge in a manner that resonates best with you.

Step 6. Conduct the remainder of the Total Client Profile and complete the mind map.

Now ask the questions from the remaining five categories of the Total Client Profile interview guide. As you do, complete the remainder of the mind map.

Step 7. Describe the next steps in your process.

Describe where you are within the wealth management process and what the next steps will be. Show the first page of the two-page graphic overview of the process as you explain it:

“We’ve gone over all the information that we need to move ahead. Our job now is to use the information we’ve gathered to formulate your investment recommendations. I would like to schedule a meeting to go over the investment plan that we will develop."

“At that meeting, I’ll walk you through your plan step-by-step and share with you the investment strategies that we would recommend for you to maximize the probability of achieving your goals."

“Our job is to help you make informed decisions with your money. We often find that we can add the most value by preventing clients from making costly mistakes. One of the best ways to avoid costly mistakes is having a plan that will work over the long term.”

You have now set the stage for the next meeting, the Investment Plan Meeting. In order to differentiate yourself from the classic salesperson masquerading as an investment consultant, you can then add this:

“At our next meeting, after the investment plan presentation, we find that many people want to immediately move ahead. In fact, you may decide that you want to invest your money with me at that point in time. If so, I’m going to hold you off on that. Instead, I want you to take the plan home so that you have plenty of time to review it. We do this because we’re looking for a lifelong relationship here, not short-term investment transactions.”

Now set the stage for the subsequent Mutual Commitment Meeting:

“At the end of that next meeting, we’ll schedule a third meeting. This meeting will be about making a mutual commitment to work together. We’ll decide whether we’ve identified specifically where you want to go and the plan for maximizing the probability of achieving success. We’ll commit to each other to work together toward reaching all that’s important to you. We’ll answer any questions that you have about the plan and make any fine-tuning adjustments, if necessary. From there, you’ll execute all the documents needed to get the plan started."

“After that Mutual Commitment Meeting, we’ll schedule yet another meeting about 45 days out. Cleverly, we call it our 45-Day Follow-up Meeting. As you probably know, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the paperwork you receive whenever you transfer accounts or open new ones. We’ll help you organize all that paperwork as well as answer any questions you may have about it.”

Finally, set the stage for a long-term relationship and introduce yourself as a personal chief financial officer.

“Following our 45-Day Follow-up Meeting, we’ll set up Regular Progress Meetings. We’ll get together on a regular basis, such as quarterly or just once or twice a year, depending on what you want."

“At our first Regular Progress Meeting, I’ll present to you the advanced plan that my team and I will have created. While the investment plan sets the foundation of your financial house, the advanced plan looks beyond investments to address other financial issues that may be critical to you for reaching all your financial goals. These will include wealth enhancement, wealth transfer, wealth protection and charitable giving. As your personal chief financial officer, my team and I will help you take care of these issues."

“We’ll discuss which areas of your advanced plan you would like to implement first. At subsequent Regular Progress Meetings, my job will be to report to you the progress we are making toward achieving your goals.”

Step 8. Define wealth management.

Once you have finished describing your wealth management process, take a moment to give the prospective client a big-picture look at how you work:

“Now that you know how we work, I’d like to briefly describe why we work this way. You see, we’ve found that most affluent clients want their financial advisors to help them with more than just investments. They want real wealth management—a complete approach to addressing their entire financial lives. That’s what we offer at our firm. Let me show you what I mean by that.”

Now go to the second page of your two-page graphic overview. Point to the wealth management formula in the upper left corner of the page. Then walk through the formula like this:

“We define wealth management as a formula: WM = IC + AP + RM. IC stands for investment consulting, astutely managing investments over time to help you achieve your financial goals."

“Next is advanced planning, or AP. Advanced planning goes beyond investments to look at all the other aspects that are important to your financial life. We break it down into four parts I mentioned a few moments ago: wealth enhancement, wealth transfer, wealth protection and charitable giving. In our experience, very few financial advisors offer these services."

“The final element is relationship management. As a wealth manager, I’m focused on building relationships with three groups. The first and most obvious group is my clients. To meet their needs effectively, I have to have solid, trusting relationships with them. Next, I manage a network of financial professionals. These are specialists I can call in to make recommendations on specific advanced planning needs. And last, I work with my clients’ other professional advisors, such as their attorneys and accountants.”

Step 9. Tell your personal story.

Now take a moment to share your personal story of why you care so much about serving your clients extremely well. Transition into your story like this:

As you can see, we pay a lot of attention to detail with our process. The reason I care so much about doing it so well is because …”

Now briefly relay the story of what inspired you to become a financial advisor and to assist people in solving their financial challenges. You developed this this story in Strategy 4: Articulate Your Value Promise. Aim to tell the story in no more than 90 seconds.

Step 10. Schedule the next meeting.

Once you have finished your story, set a specific date and time for the Investment Plan Meeting:

“As you know, our next meeting is the Investment Plan Meeting. Would Monday, May 5 at 3:00 p.m. work for you? We’ll need about one hour.”

Now wrap up the meeting. Again, do not thank the prospective client for seeing you. Instead, close with this:

“Joe, I enjoyed meeting with you. I’m really excited to work with you and about obtaining very positive results for you over time. I believe that I can add substantial value to your financial life. And I believe that you will enjoy the process as we start together on the journey of achieving all your financial goals.”

We recommend that you allow ten days to two weeks between the Discovery Meeting and the Investment Plan Meeting. You may have systems in place that allow you to turn the entire process around in a single day, but doing so will greatly diminish your perceived value in the eyes of your clients and prospective clients.

Step 11. Send confirmation for the next meeting.

Always close the loop. To do so after the Discovery Meeting in this situation, immediately send a letter (or email) that expresses your pleasure at having met the prospective client, that outlines what will be accomplished at the Investment Plan Meeting, and that reconfirms the date and time for that meeting.

The letter/email below is an example. (From this point forward, send these communications by letter or email according to the preference expressed by the client during the Total Client Profile interview.)

"Dear Joe,

I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed meeting with you today. As I mentioned at our meeting, I believe that I’ll be able to be of tremendous assistance in helping you to achieve all that is most important to you, in particular _________ and ____________.

As we discussed, our next step is our Investment Plan Meeting, at which I’ll present my recommendations for moving ahead toward reaching your goals. I believe that you’ll enjoy this meeting and the rest of our process as it unfolds.

I’m looking forward to meeting with you again on Monday, May 5 at 3:00 p.m. Plan on that meeting taking about an hour.

If you have any questions that I may answer before that time, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Financial Advisor to the Affluent

    1. Reschedule the Discovery Meeting to a later date.

    2. Begin the meeting and make a determination of whether or not to proceed with the prospective client after you have asked the values and goals questions.

    3. Proceed with the meeting. At the end of the meeting, ask how he or she would like to handle sending the information to you so that you can proceed with the Investment Plan Meeting.

5. Discovery Meeting, Pt. 3

Common Objections

Because the wealth management process is designed to capture and address every prospective client’s most important goals, values and challenges, it is unusual to hear objections.

However, the prospective client may at this point ask about your fees. This is how you can address this concern:

“Because we have not yet developed our specific recommendations for your plan, it’s impossible to know the exact costs at this time. However, at our next meeting—the Investment Plan Meeting—I will be able to provide you with details on the fees and will be happy to review those with you. I can say that our clients have often commented on how reasonable they’ve found our fees to be.”

Some prospective clients will request references. In response, say this:

“We very much value our clients’ time, confidentiality and privacy. For that reason, we do not give out references until you have reviewed the plan and we are mutually committed to moving ahead. The last step of this process might be to check references. At that time, if you are still interested, we will provide references of people in situations similar to yours.”

In reality, we have found that by this time very few clients ask for references. And even those prospective clients who do ask for references seldom contact them.

However, before you ever provide references, contact the clients that you are using as references to secure their approval. Many top financial advisors have a list of their best clients who have agreed to be available for references as needed. You should develop this list for your practice as well.

Even if a client has previously agreed to be a reference, always give your client a heads-up to potentially expect a call from your prospective client.

Resources

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Discovery Meeting Pt.3 Audio

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Discovery Meeting Pt.3 Transcript

Critical success factors for the Discovery Meeting

  • Be confident. Approach the Discovery Meeting with confidence that you are providing a world-class client experience. And be confident that your ideal client profile will guide you well in determining suitability of the prospective client.

  • Be focused. The meeting should be extremely tight and last no more than 90 minutes. Too many advisors make this an endurance test.

  • Be efficient. Recognize that the affluent already have more than enough friends. What they often really have a shortage of is time. They want professionals who are extremely efficient.

Conducting the Discovery Meeting via video call

The ever-growing use of free or inexpensive video calling services has made it possible to easily meet with your clients wherever they may be. While we recommend face-to-face meetings whenever possible to most effectively build personal rapport, video calling can be a good alternative when in-person meetings are not an option.

For the most part, you would conduct client meetings via video call as you would in a face-to-face setting. One exception would be in how you handle your review of the prospective client’s financial paperwork during the Discovery Meeting. We recommend several slight modifications.

First, adjust your confirmation letter to prepare the prospective client for the video call, as in the sample below.

"Dear Joe,

This letter is to confirm our appointment for Wednesday, April 23 at 9:00 a.m. for our Discovery Meeting via Zoom. Please join me using this link and plan on the meeting lasting about 90 minutes.

At our meeting, we will ask you a series of questions to really understand what is most important to you, what you would like to accomplish and what keeps you awake at night. We will determine where you are now, where you want to be and any gaps or obstacles that stand in the way. It’s our chance to get a very clear picture of you so that we can guide you in how best to achieve your most important goals.

To help us obtain a comprehensive view of your financial situation, please have the following on hand during our call:

  1. Your last two years’ income tax returns

  2. Any recent financial statements prepared for refinancing, etc.

  3. Current bank statements, if any

  4. Current mutual fund statements, if any

  5. Current brokerage statements, if any

  6. Current mortgage statements, if any

  7. Current life insurance policies, if any

  8. Current employee benefit statements, including those for 401(k) or other retirement plans, if any

  9. Any wills or trust documents

  10. Anything else you believe would be useful for me to gain a better understanding of your financial situation

If you have problems locating any of the information, please give me a call so we can help direct you to the proper source to obtain the necessary information.

We look forward to exploring how we might be able to assist you in achieving your financial goals.

Sincerely,
Financial Advisor to the Affluent

You will conduct the initial part of the meeting as usual. Once you complete the values and goals questions of the Total Client Profile interview guide, ask the prospective client to bring out his or her paperwork. Now move through each item in the order it was listed on your confirmation letter, asking one or two brief questions about each. For example, on the tax returns, ask for the adjusted gross income. For investment statements, ask what is in the account and the total value of the account.

Keep these questions at a very high level and move through the list quickly. Do not get bogged down in detail here; your goal is simply to assess whether the prospective client has assets that are sufficient for you to add substantial value.

When finished, resume the meeting as if you were in person, picking up with the remainder of the Total Client Profile interview guide. At the end of the meeting, should the prospective client make the recommitment to move forward with you in the process, ask him or her to send you copies of the paperwork.

6. The Investment Plan Meeting

In this meeting, you will present the prospective client with the first two parts of the wealth management plan:

  • The investment plan. This is a summary of your proposed investment consulting work. It should include the Total Client Profile mind map, a summary of the prospective client’s current portfolio and your investment recommendations. Explain the reasons for your recommendations in a straightforward fashion, focusing on the four key drivers of investment success: return, risk, costs and taxes. The investment plan should also include an overview of your wealth management process and a brief description of your fees, your firm’s background and investment philosophy.

  • An investment policy statement (IPS). This should delve into substantially more detail about your investing approach and strategic portfolio management process. It also provides summaries of the returns of key indexes and of a range of hypothetical portfolios.

The investment plan and IPS, together with your advanced plan (which we will discuss shortly), will constitute the overall wealth management plan. A well-designed wealth management plan serves a number of important purposes:

  • It provides you with an opportunity to clarify and solidify the client’s goals. Drawing from the information you gathered during the Discovery Meeting, the investment plan portion of the wealth management plan documents all seven areas of the client’s Total Client Profile. The most critical area of investment decision-making concerns the client’s financial goals. By putting these goals in writing, the investment plan ensures that both you and the client are completely clear about this crucial area.

  • It provides long-term discipline for the client’s financial decision-making. A well-crafted wealth management plan helps ensure that rational analysis is the basis for the client’s financial decisions, making the client less likely to act on emotional responses to short-term or one-time events.

  • It promotes clear communication. Because it clarifies the issues that are most important to the client and the process you will use to address them, it can prevent misunderstandings that might otherwise arise.

  • It provides you with an opportunity to “wow” the client. The wealth management plan demonstrates that you are extremely thoughtful in your approach to addressing the client’s financial challenges. The document reflects your thorough preparation, systematic strategy and close attention to detail. By doing so, it will fully establish you as an authority in the eyes of the client.

  • It sets out a long-term road map. By taking a deliberate, methodical approach to entire range of financial concerns, it will help maximize the probability of achieving everything that is important in the client’s financial life.

 

Resources

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Investment Meeting Audio

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Investment Meeting Transcript

Goals of the Investment Plan Meeting

  • To provide the prospective client with an actionable investment plan that will maximize the probability of achieving the investment goals and a clear IPS that spells out your investment approach

  • To clearly demonstrate the value you can add to the prospective client’s financial life

  • To continue building the personal relationship—a process you began during the Discovery Meeting

Preparation for the Investment Plan Meeting

Your primary task in advance of this meeting is to create the prospective client’s investment plan. It’s important to note that we recommend creating an investment plan, not a financial plan. While many financial advisors recognize the power of astute financial planning, most have found it extremely difficult to execute either well or profitably. By positioning themselves as financial planners, they effectively are communicating to prospects that they are experts in all aspects of financial services—something that is simply impossible to be.

In contrast, when you create an investment plan, you communicate a much different message: that you are most focused on the one aspect of their finances that most affluent clients are most concerned about—preserving their wealth. As an investment consultant, you will address this critical task first. Only once the investment plan is in place will you turn to other aspects of the client’s financial situation, and you will do this by turning to your network of professionals in those areas.

In addition to the investment plan, you will need an investment policy statement. Because it outlines the investment approach and strategies you use with all clients, the IPS does not need to be customized for each prospective client.

When creating both an investment plan for a specific prospect and the IPS for all of your clients, keep in mind that simpler is better. Remember that prospective clients come to you because they perceive you to be an authority on investing. As such, they really just want the answers from you, not technical details. Think about this: If you went to see a cardiologist with a concern about your heart, you would expect the doctor to diagnose the problem and recommend a solution, not give you a cardiology textbook. Your role for your prospective clients is the same. If you want to produce an in-depth financial analysis or run detailed Monte Carlo simulations, that’s fine, but do it for your use—not because you think you need to impress your prospective client with technical information.

In the Tools section of this strategy, you will find samples of an investment plan, IPS and advanced plan that one of CEG Worldwide’s corporate clients has allowed us to use. These are samples only; you are welcome to use them, but you must customize them as appropriate for your own firm and your own investment approach. In particular, involve your compliance professionals, as different firms have different compliance requirements. You may find that you are not able to customize the samples at all, but rather will need to work with documents provided by your firm. The IPS in particular may not be allowed by your firm. If this is the case, check with your firm to see if it has a pre-approved IPS that you can use.

In addition to the investment plan, prepare an agenda for the meeting. Following is a typical agenda for the Investment

 

Plan Meeting:

Investment Plan Meeting Agenda

Mr. Joseph H.N.W. Client

Monday, May 5
3:00 p.m.

  1. Ideal outcome for our meeting

  2. Overview of agenda

  3. Brief review of the wealth management process

  4. High-level presentation of the investment plan

  5. Address any questions or concerns about the investment plan

  6. Determine commitment for moving forward

  7. Overview of next steps

  8. Schedule the Mutual Commitment Meeting, if appropriate

Finally, review your compliance-related issues with your compliance professional to ensure that you have any additional required paperwork ready for this meeting. Because each firm is unique, specific compliance requirements vary from one to the next.

Overview of Investment Plan Meeting steps

  1. Greet the prospective client by name. Reinforce some aspect of his or her high-net-worth personality.

  2. Set the stage for the meeting and review the agenda.

  3. Review the wealth management process.

  4. Walk the prospective client through the investment plan.

  5. Solicit and address concerns about the plan.

  6. Ask for a commitment for moving forward.

  7. Set the stage for the advanced plan.

  8. Close the meeting.

  9. Send confirmation of the next meeting.

Detailed steps and scripts for the Investment Plan Meeting

Step 1. Greet the prospective client by name and reinforce his or her high-net-worth personality.

As with the Discovery Meeting, ensure that all team members who come into contact with the prospect, such as your receptionist or another staff member assisting you in the Investment Plan Meeting, are prepared to greet the prospective client by name. Again, offer appropriate beverages and reading material in your lobby.

When you greet the prospective client, be sure to reinforce some aspect of his or her high-net-worth personality, which you determined during the Discovery Meeting. For example, if the prospective client is a Family Steward, inquire about his or her children or grandchildren. Let the prospective client again know that you are excited about the possibility of working together.

Step 2. Set the stage for the meeting and review the agenda.

Frame the meeting with the ideal outcome: that the prospective client leave the meeting with a good understanding of the investment plan and to determine whether you will move forward in the process. Get by in on the ideal outcome before moving forward.

Then explain to the prospective client that you believe you clearly understand his or her current situation and goals for the future and that it is your job to help your clients make smarter financial decisions.

“Joe, I’d like to start by stating what our ideal outcome for this meeting would be. We want you to leave today with a good understanding of the investment plan we have prepared for you. This will help us both determine whether we should move forward in our process. How does that sound to you?”

Assuming you get an affirmative response, continue:

“I’m really excited about getting together today to present this plan. We’ve taken the information that you provided and put the plan together to help you make informed decisions that will help you maximize the probability of achieving everything that is important to you.”

Using the agenda as your guide, explain that during the course of the meeting you will walk through the investment plan, beginning with the introduction and going through each step of the plan.

Step 3. Review the wealth management process.

Next, describe where you currently are in the wealth management process and the steps that will follow. Illustrate this with your two-page graphic overview.

“I’d like to take about 15 minutes to walk you through the plan to make sure that we have captured where you are now and where you want to go and then to help you understand the steps that we would recommend you take.

“From there, we’ll answer any questions about the plan. But remember, even if you wanted to invest at this point, I’d tell you ‘No.’ The reason is that we’re looking for a lifelong relationship. This is a consultative approach, which means that we want to ensure that we’re doing the right thing for you and that you’re comfortable every step along the way.

“After reviewing the plan, if we both feel that we have a basis for going forward together, we’ll schedule our Mutual Commitment Meeting. Between now and that meeting, please review the plan. When we get back together, I’ll answer any questions that come up for you after you leave here today. Then we’ll put the plan in place and start it working for you.

“As you probably remember from our last meeting, Joe, we use a five-meeting wealth management process. We have completed our Discovery Meeting and are about ready to go through the Investment Plan Meeting. Then we’ll schedule our Mutual Commitment Meeting shortly thereafter to begin working together. We’ll get together for our 45-Day Follow-up Meeting to help get your paperwork organized and then we’ll schedule our Regular Progress Meetings.

“So, just to check in—we’re now at the Investment Plan Meeting. Are you ready to get started?”

Step 4. Walk through the investment plan.

Now present the plan at a high level. Spend time reviewing the Total Client Profile to ensure that you fully understood the prospective client’s situation. Then briefly move through the balance of the plan, avoiding delving into too many specifics. Aim to take no more than 15 minutes to go through the plan.

Do not review the investment policy statement. Instead, give it to the prospective client and say this:

“I also have a document here that shows the thoughtfulness of our investment process. It’s called an investment policy statement. I love investments and would love nothing more than to walk you through all the details in this document, but I’ve found that most of my clients prefer just having it as a reference. So I’m going to give you this so that you can take it home and look at it there. If you have any questions about it, be sure to bring them to the next meeting and we’ll go over them together.”

Step 5. Solicit and address concerns about the plan.

Ask the prospective client to share any questions or reservations about the plan. Capture all the reservations by asking, “Are there any other concerns?” until you have heard them all. Write each concern down on the agenda. While you may be tempted to respond to each immediately, do not respond to any concern until you have heard them all. You want to get everything on the table. There may be superficial items as well as material ones, and they are often interrelated.

These are the most common concerns you will encounter:

  • There is a particular investment he or she really wants to keep (often a “sentimental investment”).

  • Questions about fees.

  • Concerns about tax considerations.

  • The prospective client forgot to tell you about one or more of his or her accounts during the Discovery Meeting.

  • The prospective client has already conducted some transactions since the Discovery Meeting.

There is a chance you will need to modify the plan in response to concerns. If that’s the case, agree to update the plan and review it with him or her within a specified time frame, as appropriate.

Step 6. Ask for a commitment for moving forward.

Once you have addressed all questions and concerns, take a moment to get a confirmation of commitment. Simply ask this:

“Joe, now that we’ve reviewed your plan, I believe that we have a basis for moving forward. How do you feel about it?”

Step 7. Set the stage for the advanced plan.

Explain that you consider investments to be only the foundation of the entire financial picture. Say that once he or she becomes a client, you will take his or her case to your professional network of professionals so that you can identify those areas beyond investments in which you can have the most impact in solving the prospective client’s financial challenges.

 

“Joe, if we decide during our Mutual Commitment Meeting to work together, we will create an advanced plan for you. As I mentioned in our first meeting, I will become your personal chief financial officer. This means that I will take your case to my network of professionals so that we can identify your specific financial challenges beyond investments and provide recommendations for addressing these challenges. I’ll present this plan to you during our first Regular Progress Meeting.”

In nearly every case, this will strongly resonate with affluent prospective clients.

Step 8. Close the meeting.

Wind up the meeting and schedule the Mutual Commitment Meeting. We recommend that you allow one week between these two meetings. As you explain the next steps, you may find it useful to again use the graphic overview of the wealth management process to show where you are in the process.

“Joe, I believe that we have the plan we need to help you achieve your financial goals. Please take the plan home with you so that you can look it over and think about any questions you may have. Feel free to note your questions right on the investment plan.

“Now we need to schedule our Mutual Commitment Meeting. At that meeting, we’ll answer all your questions and then determine whether it makes sense to make a mutual commitment to work together. If it does, then we’ll finalize the paperwork so that we can begin implementing your plan. We’ll also schedule our 45-Day Follow-up Meeting to organize paperwork.

“How does next Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. work for you? We’ll need about an hour.”

Step 9. Send confirmation of the next meeting.

As you did following the Discovery Meeting, send a letter or email the same day that conveys your pleasure in working with the prospective client and confirms the date and time of your next meeting. The letter/email below is an example.

"Dear Joe,

I enjoyed meeting again with you today. I believe that the investment plan we presented to you will be very useful in helping you to achieve your most important financial goals. Please take some time to review the plan and note any questions you may have.

As we discussed, our next step is the Mutual Commitment Meeting, when we will both decide whether it makes sense to work together. If it does, we will begin to implement your investment plan to maximize the probability of achieving all that’s important to you.

I look forward to this meeting, which we have scheduled for Tuesday, May 13, at 2:00 p.m. Plan on the meeting lasting about an hour.

If you have any questions that I may answer before that time, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Financial Advisor to the Affluent"

When prospective clients are eager to invest

Some prospective clients may want to move ahead with implementing the investment plan during the Investment Plan Meeting. You should wait until the Mutual Commitment Meeting to do so. This allows you to keep your focus on developing a trusted relationship with through the first two critical meetings of the wealth management process.

Nonetheless, some prospective clients may insist on moving ahead immediately. In this case, a good alternative is to go ahead and open the needed accounts and initiate the ACATS transfers. This gets the process started without actually implementing the plan. Explain the process like this:

“We want to hold off on investing until the next meeting so that we are sure that you’re making the best decisions. But if you want to go ahead and transfer the assets now, we can fill out the paperwork to open up the account at our firm and start the transfer. It typically takes up to two weeks to complete the transfer. So then at our next meeting, we can make the final decisions on how we’re going to execute your plan.”

Common objections during the Investment Plan Meeting

It is not uncommon for prospective clients to express concern about whether the investment returns and/or cash flow stated in the investment plan will be sufficient to reach their financial goals. They may also be concerned that their risk tolerance is different from what you uncovered during the Discovery Meeting. Using the appropriate software tools (such as Monte Carlo simulation), you should be able to demonstrate that your recommendations are suitable and will maximize the probability of success.

In addition, prospective clients may like some parts of the investment plan but not others. To address this, capture all requested modifications during the meeting so that you can take subsequent action. Often, you can just note the changes on his or her copy of the investment plan.

7. The Mutual Commitment Meeting

At this meeting, the prospective client will ideally become a client. Or if you have been working with a client in the rediscovery process, that client will move ahead to implement your investment plan recommendations.

Goals of the Mutual Commitment Meeting

  • To make the mutual commitment to work together and execute all the agreements needed to begin to do so

  • To obtain introductions to qualified prospective clients

Preparation for the Mutual Commitment Meeting

Have all the paperwork necessary ready to execute the investment plan’s recommendations. Review the investment plan and have a copy of it ready for the meeting. Also, review the entire client file, including the transcription of your recording of the Discovery Meeting and your notes of the questions and concerns the prospective client raised during the Investment Plan Meeting. You want to ensure that you are completely up to speed on his or her situation and investment plan so that you can answer any question confidently.

You should also have “proof statements” available. These are articles and books that address issues that you anticipate the soon-to-be new client might raise. Ideally, these would be written by you or by other authors who are aligned with your investment philosophy. For example, if you are recommending a specific stock option strategy, it would be very useful to have an article on hand that you wrote about that strategy.

As with the other meetings, prepare an agenda. A sample agenda for the Mutual Commitment Meeting is below.

Resources

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Mutual Commitment Meeting Audio

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Mutual Commitment Meeting Transcript

Mutual Commitment Meeting Agenda

Mr. Joseph H.N.W. Client

Tuesday, May 13
2:00 p.m.

  1. Ideal outcome for our meeting

  2. Overview of agenda

  3. Address any questions or concerns about the investment plan

  4. Execute documents needed to implement the investment plan

  5. A word of warning about “buyer’s remorse”

  6. Explanation of the concentrated nature of gains

  7. Second-opinion service offer

  8. Schedule the 45-Day Follow-up Meeting

Overview of steps for the Mutual Commitment Meeting

  1. Greet the prospective client by name. Reinforce some aspect of his or her high-net-worth personality.

  2. Set the stage for the meeting and review the agenda.

  3. Collect all questions and then address them.

  4. Execute the documents.

  5. Congratulate the client.

  6. Caution the client about “buyer’s remorse.”

  7. Explain the concentrated nature of investment gains.

  8. Make the second-opinion service offer.

  9. Close the meeting.

  10. Send confirmation of the next meeting.

Detailed steps and scripts for the Mutual Commitment Meeting

Step 1. Greet the prospective client by name. Reinforce some aspect of his or her high-net-worth personality.

Use the same approach and greeting as in the two previous meetings. When you greet the prospective client, again be sure to reinforce some aspect of his or her high-net-worth personality and to communicate that you are excited about the progress you are making together.

Step 2. Set the stage for the meeting and review the agenda.

As with previous meetings, set the stage by stating the ideal outcome for the meeting and asking for affirmation from the prospective client:

“Joe, our ideal outcome today would be for us to both make the mutual commitment to working together, and then to start that process by executing the needed paperwork. How does that sound to you?”

Assuming a positive response, briefly walk through the agenda.

Step 3. Collect and address all questions.

Next ask whether there are any questions about the investment plan.

“Joe, I continue to be excited about our plan. Remember, we have two jobs here: The first is to help you make informed decisions about your money so that you can achieve all that’s important to you. The second is to provide you with peace of mind.

“With this plan, I feel strongly that we are well on our way to making informed decisions, but I wanted to check in with you to make sure that you’re comfortable with where we are. With that in mind, what concerns, if any, do you have today about implementing our plan?”

If the prospective client does have questions, write down all of them before you respond to any of them, as in the previous meeting. Keep asking, “Are there any other concerns?” until you have heard them all.

Do this because you want to address all concerns but you do not want to set yourself up for a debate. When people are investing their life savings, they often feel that they should have questions. By uncovering all questions before answering any, you can be very thoughtful in addressing the big picture first and then any details. It will also help you discern whether there is a pattern of questions that might be disguising a bigger underlying concern.

As you respond to questions, use your proof statements as applicable to address those issues.

If you need to make any adjustments to the investment plan as a result of the concerns, just mark up the changes on the plan.

Step 4. Execute the documents.

Once you have addressed all questions, say that you are ready for the prospective client to set the plan in motion by executing the required account documents.

Have all the paperwork prepared in advance, with “sign here” stickers attached in the appropriate places. As the prospective client may often be opening multiple accounts, take time to explain each set of paperwork. At this time you will also collect any checks, as appropriate.

Alternately, if the documents are to be executed electronically, walk the client through that process. Provide a tablet for this, not a laptop, as it will feel more accessible and personable.

If you have a good client service representative, bring him or her in at this point to handle this step. There are two reasons for this. First, this team member is probably much better than you at these administrative tasks and is less likely to overlook a detail. Second, it immediately establishes a relationship between the client and the client service representative, opening the door for future administrative questions to go directly to him or her.

If you have a truly outstanding customer service representative, consider leaving the room while he or she handles the document execution. This will create an even stronger relationship between the client and your team member. Once the documents are executed, return to the room to move on to the next step.

If you are working with the client in a virtual environment via Zoom, FaceTime or other video calling program, you can ask the client to execute the documents electronically. The Resources section contains our recommendations for several digital signature programs. Be sure to check with your compliance professionals on any requirements around your use of digital signature programs.

Step 5. Congratulate the client.

Once all the documents have been executed, pause for a moment to congratulate the client. You might say this:

“You should be commended for doing a great job. Congratulations on taking an extremely important step toward securing your financial future and achieving all that is important to you.”

Step 6. Caution about “buyer’s remorse.”

It’s important for your client to understand that he or she will end up with buyer’s remorse if relying on the financial media to reinforce prudent investing decisions.

Encourage the client to ignore the media (or to view it simply as entertainment) and to focus instead on making wise financial decisions and sticking with a long-term plan for maximizing the possibility of achieving all that is important to him or her.

This is very effective in focusing clients on what is truly important:

“I know you’re excited about your new plan. However, do you know what’s going to happen as soon as you walk out the door? You’re going to do what most of us do after we’ve made a major transaction: You’re going to wonder if you’ve done the right thing. You’re going to have “buyer’s remorse.”

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