Meetings with your clients are a crucial aspect of financial planning. But what exactly should those client meetings entail? How can you use your time efficiently? If you want to make sure you and your client get the most out of the time you spend together, you need to prepare ahead of time.
Preparing for a client meeting isn’t just about making an agenda or setting aside time in your calendar. You should have an idea of what you want to discuss and what sort of documents or resources you need to provide to or request from your clients. And it’s crucial to ensure that you and your clients are on the same page about what will happen in the meeting.
Effective meeting planning is all about having a set list of basics and then modifying them to address each client’s immediate needs. Use this step-by-step process to plan client meetings that make the most of the time you have together.
Meeting Prep Step 1: Decide what to discuss
Start by figuring out what you are going to cover in this meeting. If it’s the initial meeting with a new client, for example, you might be going over all their financial information and their goals (or why they decided to hire a financial planner).
If the meeting is a standard six-month check-in with long-term clients, you might just be discussing what’s going on with the market and their investments and asking if they want to update any of their goals or priorities.
Maybe you’re meeting with a client who just went through a significant life change, like having a baby or retiring. Those big events are probably going to be most of what you discuss in the meeting.
Settle on the topics that you want to talk about in the client meeting, and make a realistic agenda. Don’t forget to leave time for your clients to ask questions or cover any topics they want to discuss.
Meeting Prep Step 2: Set pre-meeting expectations
Once you’ve made an initial agenda for the meeting, let your clients know. You don’t need to give them a minute-by-minute schedule, but it’s a good idea to tell them what the meeting is going to cover. That way, they can feel confident going into the conversation and don’t have to worry about feeling blindsided by any aspects of their finances they weren’t prepared to discuss. Being open like this builds trust and sets the stage for honest conversations.
If you’re planning a meeting with a new client, this is the perfect time to set expectations for this meeting – and all the ones to come. Make sure they know what information/documentation you need them to provide. It’s also a good idea to lay out what you will be providing for them so that everyone has a realistic idea of what will happen during the meeting.
Meeting Prep Step 3: Make a list of materials to have on hand
You’ve decided what to discuss and let your clients know. Now it’s time to make a list of everything you’ll need during the meeting.
Maybe you need to have some investment projections ready for different options your client is interested in. Or if they’re just learning how to budget, maybe you need a list of different budgeting programs or methods to compare. If you know you’ve got all the information and paperwork ready ahead of time, you can feel confident going into the meeting.
Don’t forget to tell your clients what they need to bring to the meeting as well. If it’s their first meeting with you, they might need to bring bank statements and/or lists of assets and liabilities. Other important documents might be insurance policies, details of a 401(k), or information about their savings goals, such as a college fund or emergency savings account.
In-person vs. virtual consultations
Client meetings may look a little different if they’re in-person vs. virtual. If you’re going to have a virtual meeting, for example, you might need your clients to provide some of their documents ahead of time, so you can go over them first without having to rely on screen-sharing. Think through the practicalities of how the meeting will work, and create your list of documents and resources accordingly.
Meeting Prep Step 4: Follow the plan (with flexibility)
Now that you’re prepared for the client meeting, all that’s left is to execute that plan! As you’re going through the meeting, however, make sure you keep yourself open to the possibility of changing the plan if that’s what your client needs in the moment. As important as it is to be prepared, it’s even more vital to follow your client’s agenda — that gives you the greatest insight into their goals, needs, and how you can help them the most.
Prepare ahead for productive client meetings
Preparing for your client meetings ahead of time allows you to make the best use of your time and ensure that you and your clients have similar expectations about what you’ll discuss. Once you have an agenda, you can create a list of resources that you and your clients should provide. Finally, have some flexibility in your plan. Your clients might need to take the meeting in a different direction, and that’s OK. Go with it!
Running effective client meetings takes a lot of practice, and you can learn a lot from watching experienced planners meet with their clients. That’s exactly what you can do when you join Amplified Planning. You’ll get the chance to watch recordings of real-life client meetings and see how the financial planner guides the discussion, answers questions, and reacts to the client’s responses. Subscriptions start at just $30/month. Find out more and join today!