5 practical ways you can improve your annual review process

The annual review process is a vital time in any client/financial planner relationship. It allows both parties to reflect on performance, share new ideas or objectives, and allocate time to simply catch up and ensure any plans, and the relationship as a whole, is on the right track towards meeting long-term goals.

So, taking steps to make sure your process is as efficient as possible and also delivers the best client experience can be key in not only retaining current clients, but potentially expanding your business and obtaining new ones.

Unfortunately, the nitty gritty of financial planning can sometimes get in the way and consume an unfair portion of your precious time. This can not only dilute your client’s experience but can also limit your ability to pursue taking on new clients for your firm.

In streamlining some of your processes, such as how you deliver your annual reviews, you can make your business more efficient and deliver the best possible service for your clients going forward.

Read on to discover five practical ways you can improve your annual review process and deliver a better outcome for your clients.

  1. Integrate your review system with your back of office

A Citywire review of the working practices of 127 firms, found that, on average, financial advisers were utilising up to five different systems, in addition to their own back of house processes, to track client data and information.

This opens up the review process to five different points in which information can be lost, data logged incorrectly in error, and the overall time, effort, and associated risks are amplified fives time over.

In undertaking an internal review of your systems, streamlining out any inefficiencies, simplifying your processes, and outsourcing any time-consuming legwork, you put the focus back on your client and their overall experience rather than focusing on reeling through endless data points.

It should also be noted that, in cutting out inefficiencies and unnecessary processes, you’ll ultimately save your firm money in the long run.

2. Design a review process that improves your client’s experience

Far too much time and effort in the annual review process is used up in preparing data and analysing your client’s portfolio performance rather than focusing on the individual themselves.

As a financial planner, you’ll know how much more important understanding their motivations and their long-term goals is to the process than simply looking at ways to generate funds and study data points.

In shifting the grunt work of data analysis off your shoulders, you can focus on delivering positive annual reviews for your clients, whether the current economic outlook is good or bad.

In putting your emphasis on the person and their recent experiences, you can not only deliver a more positive meeting experience but also gain better insights into their up-to-date goals and objectives.

This will help you further tailor their plan towards their long-term goals and further build trust within your relationship.

An additional way you can better prepare for the meeting than simply reviewing the data, could be by implementing a pre-meeting client questionnaire.

This can help you develop a more focused agenda for the meeting, tackle any lingering client concerns, and better prepare your presentation to meet their specific needs.

3. Implement greater transparency and communication

Building trust is so fundamental to a good client/adviser relationship.

A key study by Royal London revealed the multitude of wellbeing benefits that are associated with working with a planner you trust.

The study found that individuals that received financial advice felt more in control of their finances, more financially secure, and more confident about the future in comparison to people who did not seek or receive any advice at all.

Two happy businessmen shake hands by a window

Source: Royal London

So, developing these relationships can be hugely beneficial for your clients. One way to foster this trust is by being open and transparent.

That can be achieved in a few different ways such as:

  • A transparent approach to your fees with regular updates on any respective charges
  • By showing integrity through not pushing products that benefit your firm over the client’s needs and ensuring your client knows that each product selected for their unique circumstances
  • Regularly communicating with your client and feeding back to them how you have been working on their plan and what you are planning to do in the near future.

Fostering trust will help you keep your clients for the long term, speed up the decision-making process for their respective plans, and improve outcomes for their emotional wellbeing.

4. Take accurate and detailed notes during the meeting

It can be easy to get sucked into the back and forth of a conversation as you make your presentation, catch up on your client’s lives, and hopefully smile and have a few laughs.

Taking accurate and detailed notes during a meeting can sometimes be forgotten or haphazardly fall by the wayside.

It is so vital though that you have an accurate account of what was said and discussed, so that you can move forward proactively with plans.

However, focusing too much time on notetaking can take the emphasis off interacting with your client and actually listening to what they have to say rather than just recording it.

So, outsourcing the duty in this scenario can be hugely beneficial to your annual review outcomes. You can focus on your client’s satisfaction during the meeting, while reassured that you will come away with a detailed report to review before making any future decisions.

5. Streamline the administrative process and delegate duties

The more we succeed in life, the more it can feel at times like we’re spinning plates. As your business grows, you will likely find yourself handling more accounts, managing more meetings, sending more emails, and taking part in a lot of calls.

The administrative process of making sure your schedule is organised, nothing gets forgotten or omitted, and communication is clear and regularly recorded can become increasingly more difficult the more successful you become.

You may have an in-depth discussion with a client through an email chain and then struggle to locate the chat months down the line. An online meeting might be arranged but you find yourself unsure which of a long list of online apps it was scheduled on.

In taking this additional stress off your shoulders, you become better focused on the more important issues — client satisfaction and business growth.

One of the many ways you might go about improving communication and administrative processes is implementing a back of house online booking system. Your clients can book an appointment, it finds its way onto your calendar, and they can log any key bits of information in the schedule notes.

Remember: your time is precious and should be spent doing what is most vital — making sure your clients are happy and working on gaining new ones.

Get in touch

If you’re interested in seeing how we might be able to help relieve some of the added pressures of running a financial advisory business and free up your time to better focus on your client’s needs, please get in touch.

Email hello@eparaplan.co.uk or call us on 01733 699071.

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