As a financial advisor, how confident are you that your clients understand and appreciate the complete value of your services? If a question like this makes you nervous, you’re far from alone. According to a recent study, clients ranked the value they place on advisors with good communication skills and the ability to explain financial concepts well as the third most important attribute out of a total of 15 attributes.
When confronted with the challenge of justifying their fees, many advisors tend to shy away. It’s not because you do not deserve the fee or are not working hard for your clients -- it’s simply because you have not yet clearly identified and visualized your service delivery in a way that is both easy to read and logical to follow.
An example of this is Joe, an advisor in Mississippi. His firm has been growing steadily for the past five years. He and his staff are dedicated, client-centric and have built a wonderful reputation in their community.
However, one day his largest client passed away. The client’s son came to him soon after and asked him exactly what he does to earn his fee. Joe had never been confronted like this before. Most of Joe’s clients were referred by other clients; once they understood his “process” -- discovery meeting, financial plan, execution -- he felt confident the clients were satisfied with his services.
That didn’t happen here. In this case, the client’s son had no previous experience with Joe and wanted to understand exactly what the fee was going towards.
A simple solution for this problem is to create a client service calendar that you share with your prospects, existing clients, and even clients’ interested family members. Mapping out a tangible service calendar enables you to properly articulate all that you do for your clients (while also creating a consistent experience and a workflow that your staff can follow).
But where do you start? How do you organize the content and illustrate it in a way that is easy to understand?
Let’s start with the basic steps you can follow to get you started on building your own client service calendar.
Step 1. Build a List
To kick things off, first sit down and list out all of the action items you currently are doing for your clients. It’s often helpful to break these down into the broad categories that make the most sense for your firm.
Here are some examples of common categories other advisors have adopted as they build out their list of services they deliver.
- Annual Activities:
- Annual Meeting
- Tax Planning/Harvesting
- Annual Insurance Reviews
- Next Generation Meeting (if applicable)
- Annual Client Appreciation Event
- Due Diligence Meetings (with asset managers)
- Annual Client Satisfaction Survey
- Quarterly Activities:
- Quarterly Newsletters
- Performance Reports
- Quarterly Market Update
- Monthly Activities:
- Rebalance Portfolios
- Investment Committee Meeting
- Monthly client webinar series
- Ad Hoc Financial Planning Check-Ins:
- Budgeting and Debt Review
- Credit Score
- IRA Contribution
- Estate Planning
*This is a sample of some common activities advisors have mapped out on a calendar to illustrate what they are doing throughout the year.
Step 2. Create a Visually Appealing Calendar You Can Share
When you create your own calendar (templates are readily available in both Word and PowerPoint), you also may want to customize the names of your activities for your firm.
For example, Sherry, an advisor in Texas, has a registered trademark for her planning process called “The Full Circle.” She has also branded her newsletters and webinar series in this vein. So on her calendar, you will see the custom names of her processes in the month she delivers them.
To further emphasize your value and instantly manage expectations to prospects, you can also share a sample of your client services calendar on your website for prospects to view. Tushingham Wealth Strategies shares a downloadable sample of their annual client service calendar on their website.
There are some excellent sample service calendars available online for you to reference. This one was built by one of our co-founders, Michael Kitces.
Step 3. Implement Your Services Calendar
Now that you have a visually appealing and robust client service calendar, you will want to make sure your entire office sees it and understands it! For your calendar to be a success, the goal is not only to gain a consistent approach to working with your clients and clearly demonstrate your value. You’ll also want to ensure your entire team is aligned.
Take time to sit down with your staff and go through the calendar with them. They may think of other activities you are executing that you have forgotten about.
Once the calendar has been shared and is deemed complete, you may choose to share the calendar with your current clients at their next annual meeting, letting them know you created it so they can get an inside glimpse of all that goes on “behind the scenes”.
Mary, a $600M AUM advisor in Kansas, sums it up best: “Building a client service calendar helped me explain my ongoing responsibilities to my clients in a way that did not seem overt, but rather a soft way of letting them know all we are doing for them throughout the year. And how it goes well beyond just the investments.”
Creating a services calendar doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Now, you, too, can get started in three simple steps!
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Posted by Lana Dalton
Lana is a Happiness Champion (aka Relationship Manager) at AdvicePay and loves helping enterprise users implement and optimize the AdvicePay platform. After graduating from the University of Washington in Seattle, Lana spent the past three years working in the tech industry, helping organizations implement software, create training content, and establish onboarding processes. When she’s not helping our enterprise users, you can find Lana trail running, backcountry skiing, and cooking different types of cuisine.