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Business Strategy

When was the last time you reviewed your review (process)?

Terry-Bell's avatar
Icon for Advisely Partner rankAdvisely Partner
2 months ago

Of all the interactions an adviser has with his/her client throughout the year, there’s no doubt that the review (we prefer "progress to plan") is the most important.

It’s perhaps the only situation where the adviser has complete control; they have power over everything from the timing to the content, participants and delivery platform. Surely, then, this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the value being provided for the fees being paid!

And yet: based on the feedback we continually receive from clients who have been surveyed through our CATScan satisfaction survey service, it’s clear that the "review experience" for clients isn’t resonating. In fact, of the nine KPIs we seek feedback on, reviews have been continually rated in the bottom two.

In our latest industry analysis report, Future Ready IX, we determined that 90% of practices had a defined and fully documented review process, with 15% of firms now meeting with their clients at least quarterly. At the other end of the review spectrum, a surprisingly high 44% are meeting once per year with their "best" clients. Around 80% of reviews last between 1-2 hours and nearly 40% of firms reported that at least one other staff member sits in on their “A” client review meetings.

In some ways, reviewing the plan with your adviser is akin to going to the dentist; very few people really want to go, but they do it because they appreciate that it’s important (and their parents told them that prevention is better than cure). With this analogy in mind, there are a number of steps you can take to enhance your clients’ review experience:

A month out from the meeting, send the latest plan information (investment performance, risk schedules etc) to the client along with a pre-review questionnaire that's pre-populated with the relevant info you’re holding (that they might need to update). At the same time, ask them if they have any specific issues they’d like to discuss and include relevant details on logistics – things like duration, agenda, dial-in/access codes and office directions (including parking info).

This will allow you to prepare upfront and engage in a meaningful discussion, which is a much better experience than "I'll come back to you on that."  It also shows the client that you’re respecting their views and want to discuss the matters that are important to them.

You might even be surprised about the topics your clients want you to consider – for example, an analysis of over 1,000 clients who used our Estate Planner diagnostic revealed that a quarter of them thought that they didn’t have sufficient levels of life cover!

Although this might seem like a trivial point at first glance, you should also confirm the meeting (via the practice’s client service person, not the adviser) a week before and ensure both partners will be attending. According to our CATScan analysis, a third of clients view themselves as a "couple" –  even though many advisers seem to direct their conversation towards one partner only (mainly the male), inadvertently alienating the female partner.

While we prefer at least one in-person meeting each year, we appreciate that many clients are more than happy to conduct their affairs virtually. When did you last ask your clients what their preference was?

During the meeting:
  • Interaction with the client should always be empathetic. As the old adage goes, clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

  • Stick to the agenda, ensuring it contains any specific issues the client wants to discuss – this provides a track for both client and adviser.

  • We strongly suggest that you take a few minutes to review what you’ve actually done for them since your last meeting (it’s very easy to gloss over the good work done).

  • Adhere to the "coffee test" – ensure the client is doing most of the talking and asking during the meeting and the adviser is doing most of the listening (and therefore drinking more coffee).

  • If possible, have another person in attendance – a great way to educate key staff and also introduce them to your clients (thereby addressing any possible dependency concerns). Only a third (31%) of practices report that they involve someone else other than the adviser in these meetings.

  • Conclude with the date for the next meeting.
 Within a few days of the meeting being held:
  • Confirm its outcomes, the likely timeframes for the actions you’ve agreed to and date of the next meeting.

  • Implement changes as required.

  • Communicate progress of the agreed actions and confirm when completed.
Three weeks after the meeting:
  • Contact the client, ideally through your client service person, and ask for their feedback on the meeting (three or four questions, so five minutes max).

  • Listen to what your clients say; make any changes suggested.

The review meeting (and the process through which it is delivered) remains in our view the keystone for successful longer-term relationships and has become even more critical in today’s "fee-for-value" environment.

For your consideration.

Updated 2 months ago
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