Written by Kronos Technologies on February 20, 2019
The seeds of great client relationships are sown in the first interactions advisors have with their clients. From the first email, phone call, or meeting, potential clients are evaluating you and your performance and forming opinions about your ability to help them achieve their goals. Everything advisors do in those early moments is an opportunity to build trust and confidence that will form the foundation of your relationship with your client going forward.
Read on to learn 4 best practices for getting client on-boarding right every time, so that you can build great, long-term client relationships.
Best Practice#1: Understand your client’s needs
The most critical component in any advisor’s skillset is their ability to understand and meet their clients’ needs. Doing a great job requires mastery of questioning and listening skills, as well as a well-developed sense of empathy. But your ability to identify and understand client needs can be greatly improved through the use of the right technology.
In the early phases of the on-boarding process, when top advisors need to collect client data, they rely on their advisor-specific CRM and digital Financial Needs Analysis (FNA) solutions. When integrated, these tools can not only increase advisor efficiency—saving time and effort by reducing the need for manual data input—but they also improve client experiences by getting clients involved in the process of providing, reviewing and verifying, not just their financial information, but their future fears and goals.
Making a good CRM and FNA toolset part of your on-boarding process helps ensure consistently greater efficiency, freeing you up to spend more time relating to your clients and doing the ‘over-and-above things’ that will cement your relationships.
Best Practice#2: Focus on quick wins
Empathy is really all about focusing on your clients’ goals rather than your own. Great advisors put aside their need to close a client or make a sale, they know those things will take care of themselves if they concentrate on understanding their client’s world and the needs that must be addressed to create initial success in the relationship.
Initial success maybe defined differently by different clients. Some will have urgent needs for RRSP contributions or specific insurance needs that can be met in a pretty straight-forward manner. Some require tax help or advice on a business issue. In some cases the quick win will come from advice or solutions you can provide directly, but keep an open mind about achieving initial success by connecting your client to an expert from your network who specializes in solving the immediate challenge your client needs resolved.
Successfully dealing with the things that are front-of-mind for your new client quickly and effectively makes a great first impression, and sets the expectation that you are someone they will be able to rely on going forward to solve their problems or help them achieve their goals.
Best Practice#3: Set and communicate clear expectations
All relationships benefit when both parties are clear about their expectations for each other—especially if those expectations are set, understood and agreed to from the beginning. In the advisor-client relationship it’s important to take ambiguity, anxiety and guesswork out of the equation, so that clients aren’t surprised by negative outcomes they didn’t expect—only by positive surprises that boost their confidence in you.
Setting clear expectations includes defining and communicating the process you will follow, and what each of your roles and responsibilities are at each step along the way. It’s also a good idea to set the stage for how long things will take. Give your clients an idea about the timing of each step and they’ll be less likely to feel anxious or that the process is moving more slowly than they would like.
Best Practice#4: Clarify and streamline your on-boarding workflow
The best advisors systematize their on-boarding process by identifying the repeatable steps necessary to successfully take on new clients. They streamline the number of steps as much as possible, and they use technology to automate the system and reduce effort.
They also seek to continually review and revise their process so that it is optimized to the needs of their clients. As these advisors on-board more and more clients, and come to understand the frustrations their clients commonly feel around the process of receiving advice, they seek to customize their system to alleviate those headaches.
A great way to begin this streamlining process is to ask your new clients what is working and not working. Listen for indications that any parts of your process are causing them pain. Continually look for ways to eliminate steps, automate activities, and reduce the amount of time and effort required (by both the advisors and the client) to complete the process.
Great client relationships are born in the early moments of your first interaction—when clients make their initial judgements about you, your experience and your ability. To give these new relationships the best chance for success advisors work to build client trust and confidence. Great advisors focus on understanding their clients’ needs, create early wins, set expectations, and streamline their on-boarding workflow. Consistently following these best practices for on-boarding new clients will help ensure your clients are positively disposed to entering into a long-term relationship with you that will be profitable and enjoyable for you both.