The Process of Transitioning your Best Clients

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This is Tip 6 of 7 of the Fee-Worthy Advisor Series

The most predictable and effective way to execute a transition of any kind with your clients – and especially when it comes to shifting from a commission based compensation model to a fee-based model – is a three step re-framing process. In this Actionable Tip of the Week, I’ll talk about transitioning your best clients to a 1:1 fee-based model. In the next Tip, I’ll talk about transitioning your remaining clients to a 1:many managed-money model.

Re-framing is essentially a process that enables you to communicate three things:

1. This is how things used to be

2. This is where we are today

3. This is the way things will be going forward.

With all existing client relationships, these people have a frame of reference in terms of how you conduct yourself. Your objective, in keeping with the fact that change of any kind can stir up fear and uncertainty, is to rationalize why you are doing it, how you are doing it and what it all means to them. Remember, it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear that really matters. The three step re-frame process systematically addresses unspoken resistance (their inside voice) and makes the transition smooth for both you and your clients.

Step 1 – The Ramp-up

As you can imagine, preparation is of paramount importance. Without oversimplifying too much, you’ll want to identify the following before you launch:

* Master the Model – completely internalize the platform you are choosing so that you can communicate its merits.

* Identify the Clients – choose the first wave of clients you will introduce the platform to.

* Write-out Scripts – take the messaging out of your head and put it on paper so that you can rehearse, refine and get comfortable with the flow.

* Craft the Templates – create the meeting agendas and other visuals including The Panoramic Client Process (as discussed in the last tip) as well as a Critical Life Events document that emphasizes how a client’s needs evolve as their life progresses.

* Prepare the Tangibles – create the initial meeting portfolio, the new client welcome binder that will anchor the client to your new process and platform. Also order high quality thank-you cards and maintain a mini-max quantity on hand.

Step 2 – The Launch

Once the Ramp-up is complete, you can then begin the process of reaching-out to your best clients to begin the transition process. Here are the steps to deploy:

* Sent the Intro Letter – this plants the seed for your professional evolution and sets the stage for the client.

* Intro Call – this call is to book the first meeting to introduce the concept and get the client to begin buying-into the process.

* Initial Meeting – this agenda-based meeting introduces concept of transitioning and sets the stage for the fit meeting.

The Launching process is the moment of truth where clients get to contrast for themselves the distinctions between a transactional model and fee-based model. Again, explain the difference between buying investments and buying-into a process and the merits of focusing on the value of advice versus the cost of transactions. Ultimately you want the client to come to his or her own conclusions and that is why no decisions or calls to action occur at this initial meeting.

Step 3 – The Follow-up

After the initial meeting, you tell the client that you will follow-up in 48 hours to determine if there is a fit. Upon the clients buy-in, inform him or her that your assistant will call to set up the next meeting and the signing-ceremony takes place:

* On-board the Client – this agenda-driven meeting officially transitions the client to the platform.

* Present the Welcome Binder – this serves as the hub for the rest of the relationship and includes The Panoramic Client Process document and Critical Life Events document. These tools help to future-pace the client to help them stay connected to your process and ensure that they consistently view you as their personal CFO.

* Communicate Your Introduction Process – position the concept of you being a sounding board for a friend or family member as a value-added service you are providing rather than as a favor you are requesting.

* Send the Thank-you Card – send a card that has impact and shelf-life and pay tribute to the fact that your relationship has enhanced and deepened.

* REMAIN Fee-Worthy – you have set a new expectation for the client. It’s one thing to succeed in the transition, it’s another to maintain it now that the fees are transparent. So you have to raise the bar in terms of your proactive and reactive service deliverables going forward. Keep in mind that stress and uncertainty live in the place between expectation and reality. If the service you provide meets or exceeds the expectations you’ve set, you maintain fee -worthiness, become indispensible to your clients and enhance your refer-ability in the process.

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

Author: Duncan MacPherson

Topics: Business Growth, Transitioning your best clients

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for informational purposes only. If you are planning to implement a new marketing practice and are unsure what the regulations are, always contact your compliance department first.