One of the great things about having a small community of clients, all of whom are paying your annual recurring minimum, is the time it creates for you to really stay on-top of their financial issues and meet with them as often as needed.
What I am noticing with the advisors utilizing The Trusted Advisor Toolkit™ Web Site is how few advisors have an organized annual client meeting cycle. Let’s consider how having a standardized recurring and regular client meeting cycle is the best way to delegate the work of your practice to your team, freeing you up to spend at least two-thirds of your time interacting even more effectively with your ideal clients and, of course, acquiring new ones. After I closed my practice to new clients and settled upon an ideal client community of 91, it seemed to me as though there were always five, or so, clients going through some special situation requiring more analysis by our team or needing a “specially called” meeting.
You know, those rare occasions where an ideal client’s company has made them an “early buy-out” offer, or they have an opportunity to purchase a business, or one of a clients’ biggest, and most complicated, goal dates is imminent. These situations can be time-consuming for our team and I realized early-on, that to “create” the time to necessary to deal with these few clients with pressing needs, we had to develop a well-ordered and methodical sequence of meetings with those remaining clients who had nothing “pressing” going on in their lives.
Before establishing an annual meeting cycle, I did quarterly meetings for years with my “top” clients, without having any good reason other than, urban legend had it that most “top producers” did it that way with their best clients. Once I developed fully comprehensive financial services through the Ten Client Deliverables™, I resolved to put more thought into the ideal number of client meetings per year. I had two primary objectives in developing this more orderly annual client meeting cycle. First, I wanted to determine the fewest number of annual meetings to accomplish The Ten Client Deliverables™ and second, I wanted a standardized process for all ideal clients, so I could delegate most of the meeting preparation to my growing Deliverables Team (progress reports, updates, The Implementation Plan™, etc).
With 91 ideal clients two things occurred to me. First, I came to believe that it was in the best interest of my clients to have the least number of meetings required to get everything done. Mainly, fewer meetings gave clients more time to focus on those things that mattered more than money to them, which is my job. The second thing that occurred to me was that less meetings also were less taxing on my Deliverables Team, which freed them up to deal with clients going through more intense special planning situations; so it was smarter.
We invested a year at our firm researching the question. At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, four meetings was too many (we didn’t need that many meetings to get the information we needed from our clients), and two meetings per year was not enough. Three meetings was “just right.”
With that established I created The Three Meeting Process™, which we teach Trusted Advisors and fully support to this day with all the meeting plans, client agendas, preparation materials, document checklists, progress reports, and all client “homework assignments” available to the Trusted Advisors we teach.
If you are wondering what I told clients who had become accustomed to 4-meetings per year, I told introduced them to the “New World” in this way, “Mrs. Client, with our fully comprehensive financial services, it’s important that you commit to three meetings per year so we can get the information we need from you, that only you can provide. So three meetings is what we need in order to ensure your plan is on-track and your “financial house” is in order. As a member of our Ideal Client Community, if you would like to meet more times per year, no problem. Feel free to let me know and we’ll put a meeting on the calendar right away.” Nobody called to schedule additional meetings.
So, consider that an organized annual meeting cycle like this is the best way to delegate preparation work to your team because the annual meeting process is delightfully standardized and nobody on your team needs to read your mind or take up your time determining what to prepare for your client progress meetings.