One of the most exciting milestones in an aspiring planner’s career is their first client meeting. For some that could be the first day on the job, for others it might be a little after. It’s an exhilarating and nerve-racking experience that is likely the culmination of years of hard work. Your responsibility in that meeting is to maintain professional demeanor and take clear, but detailed notes.
Note taking is an overlooked skill that is crucial to your development as a financial planner. I know what you’re thinking: “I took notes in college… I know what I’m doing”. You’re right, you did take notes in school, but the expectations here are different. Good note taking helps you and others understand the client, holds the client and team members accountable, paints a picture of the client’s progress, allows the firm to deliver a top-tier client experience, and protects your firm from potential liability. Refining this skill can make you indispensable to your team.
So how do you become a good note taker? Like most things, it’s part art, part science, and comes with a lot of practice. You have to imagine that you are telling the story of the client meeting, not merely summarizing it. It’s certainly important to gather any hard-financial data they disclose during the meeting, such as: wage/compensation data, retirement plan, insurance, tax, age, or familial information. If decisions or recommendations are made, that data must be recorded as well. It’s also crucial that you capture the “softer” cues that you observe during the meeting. Did the client pause before talking about a particular goal? Did their voice crack when telling a story? Did they look down before answering a question about their spending? Or deflect when the advisor asked a follow-up question? Does your client like coffee? If so, how do they take it? Or do they prefer water? Or soda? Do they generally prefer meeting in the morning or afternoon? Where do they vacation? Do they have trip planned before your next meeting? Is there a family member, or a special pet, you need to ask about during the next meeting? Remember, the client and your direct supervisor expect you to capture the main points of the meeting, but documenting the details is where you can really add value and wow the client with your knowledge of their situation. This information is incredibly valuable, and it gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your emotional intelligence and develop a deep long-lasting connection with the client. Remember to maintain eye contact with the client when you speak, or are spoken to, and maintain professional posture throughout the conversation. When the meeting concludes, make sure you close your notebook to maintain confidentiality.
Note taking may seem like a menial task but it’s an important responsibility that’s vital to your career growth. Challenge yourself to view this as an opportunity to add value and don’t be afraid to review your notes with your direct supervisor. The attentiveness and emotional intelligence required to excel at note taking will be cornerstones for your career in the financial planning profession.
Are you looking to join the financial planning industry or simply need advice on “what’s next” in your career? If so, please reach out. We’re eager to connect with you!
Article written by J. Lineberry - Account Executive, New Planner Recruiting, LLC