A few years ago, my firm invited some of our “A” clients to participate in a focus group. The objective was to determine whether we were delivering the proper solutions for them and their families.
There was one aspect that these clients thought was unique, and we received rave reviews for it.
For many years we talked about coordinating our clients' financial information. We had them bring in all of their documents, reviewed them, and made sure we were familiar with them. However, I felt we could improve this process and make it more meaningful for our clients, so we created the simple five-step process we now call The Financial Organizer System.
This system has truly helped our clients and their families at levels that go well beyond just the planning issues. By incorporating this easy five-step system into your own planning process you will experience many of the same win-wins that we have with our clients.
1. Have the client bring in the “pile”
We have a checklist that we give to clients so they know what to bring in. If you go to our website, we have two interactive worksheets that you can use to develop your own checklist. This is a good starting point that captures many of the items most people will have. It may also help to have conversations about documents neither you, nor they, knew they had.
2. Sort through the pile
With your clients' permission, begin by shredding outdated documents.
We find that the vast majority of the documents shredded are outdated insurance documents (policies) that just accumulate year after year.
3. Organize the remaining documents
We provide a nice binder that has all of the usual dividers, such as emergency contacts, insurance, investments, tax information, estate information, titles/deeds, and bank documents.
We also include a page titled “What to do upon the Death of a Family Member”. Since this is going to be a resource for the whole family, it is important to communicate what to do at a very difficult time, and clients really appreciate it.
4. Review the documents
This is where you and your clients will discover the rewards of your work. In almost every case, we find some mistake/error/omission that previously went undiscovered. We present an easy overview of recommendations based on our review that encourages clients to go back to their respective advisers to update whatever is out of order.
5. Deliver the Financial Organizer Binder and schedule an annual update
We take this one step further, and actually scan the documents and then upload them to a secure site that can be accessed only with the correct password (again, with the permission of the client). While having the documents available electronically is not essential, it's a great value-add.
Have clients bring in any new documents every 12 months. This will reinforce the value that you have created with the Organizer System.
You will find there are significant benefits for both you and your client from incorporating this system.
First, the client is now organized and feels in total control. I can tell you from my own experience, it was one of the more powerful exercises I have done for myself and my family.Go through the process for yourself first so you can share with clientx the story of your own experience It will add immeasurably to your ability to relate to them and to share in their delight from the process.
Second, how many times do we talk to our clients about having the intergenerational conversation - bridging the gap from one generation to another? The Financial Organizer System is designed tohelp family members understand who is supposed to do what in the event of the “what if” scenario. The Organizer becomes the critical resource that all family members can rely on.
Finally, our “A” clients come into the office to update their passport or credit card information before travelling.Talk about creating a sticky relationship between you and your very best clients.
Make this easy five-step process a part of your planning practice. You will find that this will become an integral part of the process to helping you connect better with your valued clients and their family members.
Mark Singer is a best-selling author, frequent speaker and founder of The Financial Literacy Toolbox. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.