42 INVESTMENT ADVISOR SEPTEMBER 2020 | ThinkAdvisor.cominvestment plan and financial plan tothe client.
Weeks 4–12: Implementationor when investment accounts aretransferred, and investment andfinancial planning recommendationsare implemented.
Week 12: A follow-up meeting,when the advisor reports plan progressto the client.
As you can see, during growth spurts,the labor intensity of the onboardingprocess over a 12-week period can createa high volume of work that needs to bedone by advisors who already are serving existing clients.
In periods of higher than normalgrowth, how many new clients can yourfirm onboard in any given 12-week period? And, what are you going to do if thevolume of new clients exceeds whatyou can service before you have time tohire and train additional advisors? Areyou going to turn away prospects? Wehope not.
Instead, the solution is often arealignment of the expectations duringthe onboarding process. We have foundthat most firms can avoid this growthtrap by creating better systems withinthat process.
UNDER PROMISE, OVER DELIVERHere are two ways to rework yournew client process to help accommodate and survive higher than averagegrowth periods:
1. Create “Methods of Engagement”
When a new client joins your firm, thereis already a level of trust that has beenbuilt with your brand. The goal of theprocess is to deepen the trust, which isbuilt in two ways: alignment of expectations and delivering the expectation.
If you say you are going to deliverin one, two, three weeks, you betterdeliver. But the same is true if you sayyou are going to deliver in four, five orsix weeks. The point is, what you sayyou are going to do is what the clientwill expect.
We have seen much success duringthis pandemic when firms extend theironboarding processes from 12-weeksto 24-weeks. To do this, tell the clientupfront what is going to happen over the24-week period, ensuring you deliver ontime. When growth slows down, if youdeliver faster, well, the client is usuallypleasantly surprised by it.
2. Focus on allocation needs verses
Many financial advisory firms producea detailed financial plan at the beginning of the client relationship coveringall the topics from retirement planningto estate planning to insurance needs.However, to allocate the investmentsproperly, you only “need” to know theclient goals, retirement objectives andtax issues.
The allocation needs are those that
relate to investment accounts. All other
financial “needs” relate to protecting
their assets. Instead of producing a
detailed financial plan at the begin-
ning of the relationship, break it up into
two parts. In the first 90-days, focus
on what needs to be known to allo-
cate the investments, and in the next
90-days, focus on the remaining needs,
like adjusting the insurance, reviewing
the estate beneficiaries, etc.
The client onboarding process iscritical to the success of any business. In higher growth periods, it isessential an advisory firm adjusts toaccommodate an influx of new clientrelationships. Making small changesto the expectations and timeframesand communicating your firms processes to new clients helps you workthrough growth cycles with more easeand less stress.
Angie Herbers is an independent consultant tothe advisory industry. She can be reached at
Consider the revenue lost when your
advisors have halfhearted meetings withqualified prospects and do not follow up.
This may be stifling growth, and possibly
could have major consequences to those
firms for months or years to come.