I remember back in 2008 when I was studying my CFP® exam, I was surprised by the fact that after the initial planning process, the rest of the client service model was encapsulated neatly in one word, “monitor.”
While it looks good in a flow-chart, it does not provide sufficient ongoing value to the client.
“Monitor” is a very passive word. While it does mean something more than to just "watch" or "look", the difference seems marginal and open to interpretation.
Dear client, I think you should pay me significant ongoing fees to “look at your plan.”
I always felt that having the entire ongoing client service model encapsulated in that little word is just insufficient to justify my fees, but it is also an insufficient level of value to deliver to clients over time.
There is something that Bill Bachrach used to say that always resonated with me:
“We will help you get and keep your entire financial life in order.”
The initial planning process is all about identifying the client's needs and whether they are on track to accomplish their goals. After that, it's about creating an implementation schedule for everything they still need to do.
The ongoing or annual client service model is about continuing that implementation and verifying that everything remains in alignment with the plan as it evolves over time.
IT EVOLVES OVER TIME!
I don’t care how fantastic your initial plan was, it will ebb and flow with the markets and your clients desires will change and refine. The idea that you build a plan and then just “monitor it" is woefully understating the work that needs to be done to truly keep the client on track.
The way I have approached this in my practice (and what I teach to advisors) is the idea of taking then entire planning process, breaking it up into distinct agendas and using those as the basis for your annual client service model.
If you do that, you automatically review every aspect of the clients plan throughout the year. This process will support full implementation of the plan and identify things as they change over time.
But I take this one step further, I consistently add “flair” to add value. No- I know what you're thinking... this not the "flair" they speak of in Mike Judge's 1999 cult-hit movie, "Office Space".
In my practice we have three annual meetings for our comprehensive planning clients. These agendas are Financial Plan Review, Risk Management Review and Wealth Management Review. If the client comes in for all three meetings in a year, they will have had their entire financial plan reviewed.
But we don’t just keep going through the exact same rotation year after year. We add “flair.” We look for one or two new things to add to the existing agenda for each new meeting cycle. This keeps us adding additional value year in and year out.
Compare that to the CFP® ongoing client service model.
-Which do you think adds more value?
-Which would your clients be more eager to pay for?
-Which allows you to serve your clients better over time?
I think the difference is obvious and I encourage you to ask yourself what steps your client service model contains. Are you simply “monitoring”, or are you delivering significant, ongoing value with your annual client service model?
If you know that you want to add more value to your annual client service model, but you just don’t know where to start, you might want to check out my Delivering on the Promise Online Course.
I created it to give advisors a tool to help them think through every aspect of their client service model and to start really delivering on the promises they make to their clients.
It doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t have to start with a blank slate!