There are numerous benefits to involving your new planner in client meetings. These include increased leverage of firm owners’ time and client relationship scalability, quality of life improvement, profitability, and enhanced client experience. There are some common myths that can often overshadow these benefits though. This month’s post addresses the top 5 myths of integrating new planners into client meetings so firm owners can get their new planner(s) started down the right path to success.
- MYTH: It is an inefficient use of time –
- REALITY: A firm owners’ time is very valuable and could be worth anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per hour. A new planner can step in and absorb some of the tasks and responsibilities to free up the owner’s time! Everyone wins this way, as the firm owner can better leverage his/her time, the new planner gains their much needed and sought after client relationship skills, and the profession is served due to the transfer of knowledge. Gary Klaben addresses this in one of his blog posts. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/12lNVYF There is also the component of client service. When multiple professionals are involved in the client meeting, it liberates the lead advisor from needing to worry about capturing everything important the client says and instead focus solely on listening and guiding at a high level.
- MYTH: They might take some of my clients if they leave–
- REALITY: There are legal strategies to help protect against this such as a non-compete and non-solicitation agreement, but the larger issue of leaving needs to be examined. Generally, new planners who are challenged, have the opportunity to work with clients, feel like they are compensated reasonably, feel closely aligned with the firm’s philosophies, and are in a positive culture, aren’t looking to leave. Focus on providing these elements, and departing planners will not likely be an issue at all. (See www.newplannerrecruiting.com for some ideas on how to offer these.) While you can and should still have some legal options available as a last resort, sometimes I see firm owners putting more thought, time and money into the legal documents versus the new planner’s position, opportunity for growth, training and culture, which is unfortunate and ironically increases the likelihood those documents will be necessary!
- MYTH: They will say something that causes me to lose a client–
- REALITY: Assuming you are sitting in the chair next to them, there aren’t too many things a new planner could say to warrant a client leaving the firm. Even if they did say something that wasn’t correct or upsetting to a client, you are there to mend it and provide an example so your new planner doesn’t repeat it. Everyone makes mistakes, and at some point if it hasn’t already happened, one of your staff members will have a mea-culpa moment with a client, but it can ultimately be a learning experience, perhaps one highlighting the importance of details. In some cases, an issue between a client and an employee could genuinely be the client at fault and not the employee. This provides an opportunity to both rectify the situation and to stand up for the employee which builds a deep level of loyalty, confidence and trust, further reducing the likelihood of employees leaving and trying to steal your clients.
- MYTH: The client wouldn’t be comfortable–
- REALITY: Given the close relationship that planners have with their clients, most clients are actually far more comfortable than we give them credit for. In practice, this myth is often cited when the real fear is #3 above. I realize client meetings are sometimes sensitive and clients are emotional, etc., but asking the client for permission on whether a staff member can attend a meeting is something that can be done when properly positioned ahead of time. In the end, the bigger question may be if a client isn’t open to having someone you employ assist you on their situation, as well as learn the business, is that a client you really want to work with? If you are comfortable with having a new planner in the meeting with you, the clients will be too.
- MYTH: They need more experience–
- REALITY: The obvious response to this is - how do they get more experience if firms will not hire without experience? More importantly, the reality is that there is little or no experience needed to sit in a meeting and take thorough notes and answer basic questions. Everyone has to start somewhere. While it is possible to hire around the issue by seeking out people with more experience, it is an expensive business strategy – and often an unnecessary one!
Integrating new planners into client meetings at an early stage can improve your quality of life, firm profitability, and the client experience. A gradual integration approach allows you to train your own staff with greater experience in an environment that is a benefit and not a risk to the firm