Top 5 practice management tips
1. Create a family tree in a client meeting
When meeting with a new client (or re-engaging with an existing one) simply ask them to help you understand their situation by drawing a family tree.
Ask them to start with each other, and then draw in children, parents and siblings. Ask them to comment on the types of relationships they have. Engaging in something visual that they know well, you can almost sit back and note any advice opportunities that present themselves:
- Is estate planning going to be an issue?
- What about aged care?
- Is there an inheritance on the way?
- Do they want to save for educational expenses for children or grandchildren?
- Would you like a referral to a brother or sister?
This process is much more informative than writing down factual information about children and ticking boxes in a fact find. In some cases, you will see where there is tension between a client couple and can then start talking honestly about whether they do want to leave an inheritance to the children, or support a struggling relative, for example.
2. Stand out from the crowd: Send a personal ‘thank you’ card
Almost everything written about practice management involves productivity improvements. This doesn't.
After meeting a client for the first time (or an existing client after a long time), spend five minutes writing a very brief thank you note and hand-write the envelope yourself.
Most advisers would have made great doctors, based on their handwriting, but this isn't the point. By hand writing the envelope, the client knows that the message is personal and is more likely to stop and open it (rather than open it along with the bills and sorting through the junk mail).
A simple message like, "Thank you for your time today, I look forward to preparing a plan for you" means a lot in this day of mail merges and electronic newsletters. It reminds the client that the relationship is personal.
3. Update your professional profile
Those advisers who are members of the Financial Planning Association or the Association of Financial Advisers (or both!) can take advantage of a great 'find an adviser' feature on both sites. By providing complete contact details and a professional photograph, a prospect looking for you by name, location or area of expertise can see what both you and your business looks like.
Have you checked your Dealer Group website and how you are positioned? What else could you do to improve this?
Your profile on LinkedIn is also another source prospective clients use to find you on the web and get a clearer picture of who you are and how you can help them.
Consumers are also using reference sites like http://www.adviserratings.com.au/ to both source and review advisers. Where the client is technologically savvy, encourage them to rate your services and provide recommendations through comments. This is a powerful referral opportunity.
Most people won’t choose an adviser based on the content of a website, but it's a great validation tool. Rather than meeting prospective advisers, many clients will first use a search engine to see what you have to offer and construct a shortlist of potential advisers based on what they find in cyber-space.
4. Proactively address “best interest” and FOFA requirements with your clients
Most clients won't have heard of the Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) and many will not care. However, everyone's ears will prick up when fees are discussed. If you are not delivering value, expect your clients to leave. Talking about your clients’ “best interest” openly while evaluating options not only helps you comply with regulations—it also helps you solidify and retain important client relationships suited to their unique needs. Your clients are paying you to provide advice, but to also guide them through important life decisions. Positioning yourself as an advocate lets them know you’re on their side.
5. Embed yourself in your community
In addition to formally building referral partners (accountants, lawyers), through business practices—a great source of referrals can be captured through your own community groups (local football clubs, community groups, school communities, etc.). This also enables you to build a network that aligns with your own personal style and beliefs. Clients and referral partners will respond more positively and trust will be earnt more quickly when the relationships are formed over a mutual passion or project.