Over the last few weeks, I have had many conversations about client review meetings. My guess is that many advisors were in closer contact with their clients during the early months of the shelter in place, and had probably put off more formal meetings. Now, almost 6 months in, some sense of normalcy is emerging, and advisors need to do their review meetings.
Certainly many existing clients will opt for Zoom or Webex for their client reviews. It makes sense; why would they want the hassle of getting dressed, fighting traffic, looking for parking just to hear they are on track with their financial plans? Unless there is something significant to cover, I would imagine that most meetings of all types will be virtual going forward.
Making the best of our new virtual format
Many advisors I’ve spoken to have suggested that the flow, content and timing of these new virtual client reviews has changed. They say that “In the old days” of client reviews, the meetings they were looser, longer and a bit more flexible. It was easy to get off on a tangent, pull up a file or be more social.
Today’s reviews are shorter, more organized and while still personal, focus more on the task at hand. Technology has to be mastered, timing tighter and conversations more direct. It is almost as if advisors are producing a show on behalf of the client instead of conducing a meeting. So far (and I know it is just starting) the feedback that I have heard has been positive — clients are reacting positively to more concise meetings.
What does your show look like?
One advisor told me he created a checklist for his clients on how to participate in virtual meetings — instructing them on how to use and troubleshoot his preferred video conferencing technology. Another had his staff call a few days before the meeting to get the clients up and running. Either way, getting the clients prepared to use the technology is a great way to start the “production.”
Other advisor ideas:
- Create an outline, and flow for the conversation. “Zoom fatigue” is a real thing, so keep the meetings shorter. Make sure there is a flow to the topics you (and they) want to cover.
- Using PowerPoint, Apple’s Keynote or some other presentation software, have slides ready to keep everyone engaged and on track. It is easier to get distracted while on the computer vs. face to face. In the old days, it was easy to hand the client a piece of paper and point to what they should be looking at. Now, you can use the presentation with a pointer to get the message across.
- Check for engagement by stopping and asking questions, soliciting feedback and asking for input. If possible you should be “checking in” every 3 minutes.
- Project a professional image. Look at your background, what does your “set” look like? One advisor bought a screen with her logo on it. Another positions a monitor in the background with the company logo in view to reinforce the firm’s image.
- Be an expert in your platform — know how to share your screen, turn off your camera when hitting on something you want them to pay particular attention to, and use the whiteboard (if available). It should be second nature to all of us to shift from a performance report to the financial planning software’s probability-to-goals report.
In just a few short weeks, we will be closing out a pretty incredible quarter. Clients are going to want to hear from you, and they want to hear about their accounts and their plans. Be prepared by gearing up now to deliver a quality client review meeting. The “show” must go on, whether clients are sitting in your office, or at home on their computer.
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