What does a great review meeting look like?

As more and more advisers shift the focus in their client interactions away from products and more towards a broader and more valuable financial planning proposition, the profile of their income is also shifting from a reliance on initial commissions to a flatter and ultimately more valuable ongoing income stream. To justify this recurring income stream, regular review meetings with clients are becoming far more important events.

It’s not too long ago that I used to wince when hearing about the review meetings of some advisers, where the client opting not to have a meeting was seen as a victory. The review meetings of these advisers were haphazard and added little value to clients. Thankfully these are mostly in the past.

One of the challenges for advisers is that they hear so much about the importance of developing an engaging Client Value Proposition. As a result, a lot of time and effort has gone into identifying where clients are experiencing value, the advice process that is being used, the client services that are provided and indeed how all of this should be paid for by clients. This is great, but the focus tends to be around the initial (year 1) engagement with clients.

I can tell you as the client of a financial planner that I can’t at this stage remember our initial interaction. But I remember clearly our last review meeting, and I’m also very clear about what we will discuss at our next meeting. And that’s the way it should be. The initial advice stage set me off on the right path; the review meetings keep me on it.

With some advisers, the focus is heavily weighted on attracting new clients, at the expense of minding the existing ones.  However having a brilliant review meeting is the means by which you’ll lock in those clients year after year, and as a result enjoy an ongoing income stream from the clients.

As a core part of your initial engagement with a new client, it makes sense to explain to them in detail what will happen every year into the future. It’s not enough for review meetings to be positioned as a “by the way” 10-second conversation at the end of the initial product implementation.

What should a review meeting include? Of course the financial plan should be central to the meeting – have the client’s life goals changed, do they want to explore a different future? Have they the financial capacity to live the life they want? There is also the fairly standard (and necessary) tasks of reviewing a client’s portfolio, getting up to date values and potentially even writing a short review report. And you definitely should explore further protection needs based on changing circumstances etc.

However the real opportunity to demonstrate your value on an ongoing basis to clients rests outside of the traditional review meeting agenda. Why not take a little extra time and set out for your clients some financial benefits that you’ve delivered to them such as;

  • Their wealth growth.
  • Their improved future capability to live the life they want.
  • The growth in actual euros of their investment portfolio.
  • The tax saved as a result of their pension plan and any other tax efficient policies in actual euros.
  • The actual money saved in euros as a result of a protection review you carried out previously.

Now your ongoing fee / trail commission starts to look very small! However there’s still a lot more you can do at these review meetings to demonstrate further value to you clients.

  • Help your clients with their household budgeting. This is an area that many clients continue to struggle with. By getting clients on the right path here and reviewing it with them, you can add enormous value to them.
  • Reviewing future cashflow plans with your clients each year adds tremendous value. This can completely change the conversation, enable you to look at “what if” scenarios and approach the client’s financial affairs in a very engaging and collaborative way.
  • Talk to them about their broader financial needs where you don’t provide the solutions. You can add value by tapping them into your network of solicitors (for their will or enduring power of attorney), tax advisers (tax advice) or accountants. Now you’re the person centred right at the hub of their financial affairs.

Review meetings are also the opportunity to remind your clients of the work and interactions you’ve had with them throughout the year – the rebalancing of their portfolio that you carried out, the interim meetings you had, seminars you invited them to, the content you sent them etc. How can a client question your ongoing fees when they realise that you are actually providing value to them right throughout the year?

So place review meetings at the heart of your proposition. Make them memorable and ensure your clients come back to you year after year.

Are you ready for that big media interview?

For many financial advisers, this is the great break that they’ve been looking for and they can’t wait to get stuck into the opportunity of waxing lyrically about one of their favourite topics. For others, securing a media interview is a prelude to a couple of sleepless nights as they fret and worry about saying the wrong thing and blowing the opportunity.

There really is no need for the latter feelings. Journalists are not out to “get you”. They have a job to do, which is creating interesting and valuable stories and if you play it right, you can be the catalyst to making that happen. So here are a few thoughts on giving yourself the best chance of achieving PR success.

 

Nurture your contacts

You must start by securing an interview in the first place, and this is no easy feat particularly with a high-profile journalist for a national publication. Of course, using the services of a PR agency is one way to approach this, as these agencies spend their lives building and maintaining relationships with all of the relevant journalists in the different sectors. If you have no relationships with your chosen journalists at all, this is often the best route forwards.

If you have a connection with one of your chosen journalists yourself, maybe as the result of a previous interaction with them, mind and nurture that relationship carefully. You need them for the profile and exposure that you can get from them, and they need you as a source of interesting stories and opinions. It’s a two-way street.

However, there are lots more financial advisers out there than there are good financial journalists, so you need to be prepared to work hard to stand out from the crowd. If you have a subject or an angle that you believe is genuinely of interest to their audience, don’t be afraid to pitch it to them. Think carefully and only pitch ideas that you believe are of interest. This is NOT the time to bombard them with your latest thoughts in the hope that one might stick – they’ll soon get sick of you.

 

Prepare properly

Sounds obvious? But how many times have you heard radio interviews where the person is just not on top of their brief? We’ve all heard these car crash interviews. This can happen too with an interview with a print journalist. Prepare properly, think through the possible questions that you might be asked and consider your answers in advance.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Don’t panic and answer off the top of your head. The journalist is not trying to trip you up, so just say that you’ll check it out and get back to them. And then make sure you do just that.

 

Think of their audience

The audience is unlikely to be financial professionals who want to hear your technical expertise. Their audience may be elderly or might have little financial knowledge.  Speak with them in mind. Yes, you want to demonstrate that you know your subject really well and have confident opinions, but this won’t be achieved by blinding people with science and resorting to industry jargon. No-one will thank you for this, least of all the journalist…

 

Bring in a bit of colour

Try and help the journalist by bringing in a relevant and related funny story or interesting case study to add some colour to their piece. If you can provide a unique or memorable angle that brings an article to life, that will really help them.

The other way of doing this is by utilising research. Journalist love referring to survey findings as they can quote validated numbers and give their insights into them. Where you have related research, provide it with some of your own insights into the findings.

 

Follow up

Then you buy the Sunday papers, and your thoughts are there in all their glory. You’ll probably share this with pride through your social media channels to increase the reach and exposure of your article. And why not, you deserve it!

But don’t forget about the journalist who write the piece. A nice thank you won’t go amiss, along with an offer to stay in touch, which circles back to nurturing your relationship with them. Also connect with and follow them on social media if they are there – some of them are active, others are not. If it makes sense and genuinely adds something to a conversation, don’t be afraid to give your tuppence worth on some of their posts.

Good PR exposure from independent journalists and publications is a valuable asset for your financial advice business. Go about it in a structured and considered way.

How to write a great Financial Broker video script

Lots of Financial Brokers recognise the power of a really good video that you can use on your website and through other communication channels. We’re seeing a big upsurge in enquiries about them.

While of course the look, style and general production quality of the video are really important, the script is probably the most critical element. So how do you produce a good script?

We spoke to Stephen Doyle of Vision Media who has produced videos for quite a number of Financial Brokers, product providers and other financial services businesses and we asked him for his tips.

 

Here’s what Stephen had to say!

 

A video has the power to tell a convincing story about your business in 60-seconds. A well-written, engaging script is the foundation for a successful explainer video. Without the right foundation, the rest of the creation process is in vain.

So what can you do to make sure your video is a killer and not merely a nap inducer? It starts with proper preparation – knowing your audience, your message and your call-to-action is essential. Beyond that, here are 7 tips to help you write a better script.

 

1. Keep the script short

The length of your script will depend on your audience. A captive audience in an auditorium endures about five to eight minutes before beginning to drift. An Internet surfer popping by your website tends to check out after two to four minutes depending on how compelling your material is and whether or not they needs your product.

 

2. Put your message in the first 30 seconds

Reduce the message of your entire video to one sentence and get that sentence somewhere in the first 30 seconds of the script. This tells the audience what to pay attention to in the video.

 

3. Speak directly to the audience

The easiest way to speak to an audience is to use personal pronouns like “you” and “your”. Another way to engage your audience is to show them things they care deeply about. While you may be proud of your second quarter earnings, what they care about is whether you can help them improve their own bottom line. Don’t waste time telling your audience what they already know. Focus instead on what they need to know about you that will bring them to trust you and to take the action you want them to take. Don’t talk down to your audience or over their heads. Make friends with them and they will be far more likely to give you a chance to sell them something.

 

4. Find the right tone

Have a mental picture of your customer in mind when selecting the tone of your video. Write a one-sentence summary describing why you are making the video and what you want the viewer to do at the end of it. This will suggest a tone for your finished video. You may decide you want a talking head in an office, a brief classroom style presentation, a light-hearted romp, a bold outdoorsy documentary or a colourful animated review.

If you have story-driven characters, imagine real people as mental placeholders. It’s much easier to write realistic dialogue if you are writing for someone whose habits and mannerisms you know well. The tone you choose for your video will then drive your choice of setting, narrator or cast, tempo, pace and type of dialogue for the script.

 

5. Tell a story

Most explainer video scripts present a problem (Mary knows her money is not working hard for her), introduce a solution (Mary gets a diversified portfolio in place that results in her money working for her), explain how it works (Mary got independent advice from her Financial Broker who developed a risk-based investment portfolio for her), and drive viewers to action (contact your local Financial Broker and get your money working for you).

Dry facts, statistics and definitions are okay in the classroom, but unless your video is for students imprisoned in a classroom, avoid lifeless content whenever possible. Instead, use the power of the screen to show your audience actual people your company has helped, or benefits your services have bestowed on your customers. Testimonials create stories about themselves to help them define who they are. The better you tell stories about yourself, the more likely your viewers are going to understand what your company is offering and what it can do for them.

 

6. Use humour wisely

Humour is a great tool for story telling so long as the humour supports your message. Make sure your attempts at humour fit seamlessly within the story you’re trying to tell, and keep in mind that misplaced or poorly timed humour can be distracting and may actually put off potential customers.

 

7. Pace yourself

Keep dialogue to between 140 and 150 words a minute. And while you might be able to speak 200 or more words per minute on your own, keep in mind that the voiceover needs time to breathe, allowing viewers to absorb what you’re saying (this is especially true if the content is particularly dense or technical in nature). Machine gun fire dialogue quickly overwhelms viewers, causing abandonment, and decreased comprehension.

 

When producing an explainer video, don’t skimp on the script. Take the time necessary to do it right. Get feedback from friends and co-workers, and make sure it’s engaging and easy to understand.

 

So there you have it! If you would like help in pulling a great video script together, please give us a call.

Image courtesy of Lidia Aparicio / Ashary

6 great apps that make my life easier

Every summer I give one of these articles over to the subject of apps that I use regularly. This year I’m mentioning 6 apps that I use regularly and that make my work / financial life a little easier to manage. I’ve mentioned some of these before – the more I use them, the more useful I find them.

 

App 1: Stripe

I started using Stripe when an adviser asked me could he pay me for a service by credit card. This prompted me to go looking for solutions. Literally an hour later I had a Stripe account set up (which receives credit card payments) that was fully integrated into Xero (see below). So now I can receive payment on any invoice by credit card, and my accounting system immediately knows about it. The Stripe app is great, providing notifications when money is received and giving me all of the information I need to manage credit card payments.

 

App 2: Xero

I was introduced to Xero, an online accounting system a couple of years ago. It has had a transformational effect on the financial management side of my business. I have real-time profit & loss statements, balance sheet and a host of other useful reports that are available at the press of a button. All my invoicing and bank reconciliations are done through Xero. My accountant and I can both view the up to the minute real time information about my business, I’m saving hours every month with this software and have much better information available to me.

Specifically with the app, a great overview of business bank accounts, invoices and purchases is provided. I’ve full view of my outstanding invoices in the App and other important information. I now have all the information I need, and the time spent on “the books” is a fraction of what it once was.

 

App 3: Revenue

Am I serious? Yes I am! I think the Revenue app (RevApp) is great, allowing you to log a whole range of expenses throughout the year (health expenses etc.) which makes completing your tax return very easy. You can also log a whole range of other tax relievable expenses (e.g. the home improvement tax relief scheme) and you can get lots of useful information about your tax records.

 

App 4: Feedly

An old favourite that I know some of you now use. Feedly is an app that I use all of the time in seeking out useful content from the web to share, and indeed for content ideas to write about. It enables me to track blogs / news feeds that provide content I don’t want to miss. Rather than receiving an email every time there’s a new blog post or news article,  instead the new content is sent to Feedly which gathers all of these articles in one place. It is like a magazine rack for online articles, waiting for me to go through them.

I can then flick down through hundreds of articles in minutes, reading only the headlines, dipping into an introduction or indeed the full article if I think it is actually worth reading. And I can mark them all as “Read” very easily as I go along, ensuring those particular articles don’t appear again. I’ve categorised the different feeds into groups, which further speeds up the process too. The benefit of Feedly is the time it saves me in getting through huge numbers of articles.

 

App 5: Pocket

And then there’s Pocket, which I see as my sister App to Feedly – another old favourite. This is my scrapbook of articles that I’ve “cut out” and saved for later. As I see articles of interest on the web or that come through to Feedly, some catch my attention to be read later when I’ve a bit more time on my hands. With 2 clicks, I put them in my Pocket and can also tag the articles for different purposes – it might be to share out later, to rewrite with my perspective, maybe to help me develop a new angle for my proposition etc.

I can then go back into Pocket when I want to carry out an activity and simply click on the article that I’ve saved for that very purpose. It’s all very easy and it means you don’t lose great articles that you’ve read.

 

App 6: Ring

One for those of you who will continue working from home… This is an app linked to the doorbell at the front door of my house. What has this got to do with work you may ask? Well my office is in my back garden and gone are the days of missing couriers, missing bulky post deliveries or having to work inside the house while waiting for a caller. Now when my doorbell rings, it comes through to my phone. There’s a camera, microphone and speaker in the doorbell so I can see who it is and talk to the caller as necessary from my desk. It makes life easy. The doorbell itself has no wiring and can be installed quickly and easily yourself – trust me, I’ve no reputation for advanced DIY skills… Even if your office is in the house, it might help you decide when on a Zoom call whether you need to run to answer the front door or not.

 

I hope there’s an app here for you to try to make your life a bit easier.

How well are you following up your events

Most of the financial planning businesses that we’re working with are busily reviewing their propositions as the country emerges from the shadow of covid lockdowns. For many firms this is simply a case of bringing forwards the benefits of remote meetings, identifying where they will fit in their offering going forwards and building remote meetings in as a core element of their proposition.

For other slightly more ambitious businesses, they have been running virtual client events over the last 15 months, mostly in the shape of regular webinars. These have been delivered by interesting and expert speakers, and by themselves too. Some of these businesses have seen their attendee numbers steadily increasing over the last few events, a real endorsement for their efforts. They rightly plan to continue delivering these webinars into the future.

These webinars have usually been excellent events, covering really interesting and valuable topics for their clients. However one area that can generally be improved is in the whole area of follow-ups – what happens after the event. Here are a few thoughts on maximising the impact of your webinar, to really ensure that it was worth all of the effort put into it.

 

Prepare in advance for afterwards

You know who your speakers are and you know the topics that they will be presenting. You may also have any presentation slides in advance.  So it’s relatively easy to have a few of the main follow-up assets fully or mostly prepared in advance. If these are left until after the event, they often get forgotten in the rush to get back to urgent client work. You can have the following prepared and ready to go,

  • A page or blog post on your website dedicated to the event. This should have a link to a recording of the event, that can be accessed via a completed form – this way you get to see who is downloading it and is interested in the topic. As part of this, encourage the user to sign up for your newsletter / other events so that you can then stay on their radar.
  • An email to attendees, thanking them for taking the time to attend and linking through to the event page on your website. Better still, prepare this in your newsletter software where you can track who opens and clicks on your email.
  • An email to people who couldn’t make it, advising them that there’s a recording available via the link to the event website page. As above, do this in your newsletter software.
  • If you happen to have any other relevant content on the topics covered on the webinar (whitepapers, blog articles, podcasts etc.), insert the links to these too.

When you prepare this in advance, you can be ready to go immediately after the webinar has finished and while it is still fresh in people’s minds.

 

Get active on social media

Then it’s time to get out and let the wider world know about the value you add to your clients. Publicise the success of your event on social media, leading people to the event page / blog on your website. Of course, once they are here, they may want to watch a recording of the event – to do so, they have to fill out your form, give you your email address and enable you to include them in your expert communications going forwards. Now you’re using your event to draw prospects to your business…

 

Review the analytics

After all of this, you’ll have pretty rich data. This will include,

  • How many people attended the event
  • Who they are
  • Who interacted with your emails
  • Who liked / commented on your social media posts
  • How many / who requested the recording
  • Some advisers have also sent out very brief post-event surveys, checking the pieces that people got most value from and seeking general feedback. This is more data to consider.

It’s one thing having all of this data, the important task is to use it. Block out an hour or two in your diary maybe a week after the event to go through the analytics. Was the event a success? What could be done better in the future? Most importantly, are their specific individuals who really engaged with the content and who might welcome a follow-up call?

 

Follow up

Where it makes sense, follow up with those individuals who were very interested in the topic. It’s quite possible that they are mulling over an issue in that space? Reach out with the offer of a remote follow-up conversation – this will enable each of you to see if there is something to explore a bit more, without investing much time in doing so. This might be where your event leads you into a wider planning conversation with a prospective client…

 

Next time you’re running a virtual event, invest a little time in post-event activity. It will be worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

 

Are we coming to the end of remote meetings?

One thing that is certain over the coming months is that financial advisers will have plenty of clients to meet. Most people have been impacted financially in some way by the pandemic, many people in a significant way as a result of the restrictions and lockdowns over the last year or so. Your clients need to meet you. The question that many advisers are asking themselves is about these meetings and whether there is an ongoing role for remote meetings into the future.

My quick take on this is that remote meetings will definitely continue to play an important role into the future for financial advisers and planners.

 

What clients want and the hierarchy of engagements

The first step to take before you make any decisions in this regard is to find out what your clients want themselves. There is definitely a growing belief that a surprising number of clients may prefer remote meetings going forwards. They don’t want to incur the travel time (and nor do you), finding parking, getting to your office etc. If you’re in a city centre office and the client lives in the suburbs, a one hour meeting can mean the guts of a half-day written off by one of you. Other clients on the other hand will definitely want to meet you face-to-face (F2F) again.

You also need to consider what works best, both for you and also for the client. If there is a hierarchy of engagements, F2F meetings have to sit at the top of the pile. Nothing beats that human interaction of meeting in person. If you have an upcoming meeting that requires deep engagement, such as getting the client to open up about their lifestyle / financial objectives or to guide them towards better investment behaviours, it may make sense for you to insist on meeting face to face – for the benefit of the client.

However if it’s a somewhat routine review session, a remote meeting may make more sense for all.

Virtual meetings definitely win out over phone calls as we’ve all found the unique and sometimes funny moments they can produce – the dog starts barking, the small child interrupting mum or dad or some mayhem in the background. They give you a better view into someone’s life and again, are just that bit more human.

 

Make remote meetings part of your proposition

Quite a number of advisers are now building remote meetings in as a stated element of their client propositions. They are being included for lower value clients where the level of ongoing income simply doesn’t justify a F2F meeting. Remote meetings are also being built in as part of an enhanced offering for high value clients, as an addition to F2F meetings – maybe an extra half-yearly or quarterly remote catch-up.

Some advisers are now using remote meetings as an initial screening call for new prospects, particularly where there are geographical distances involved. Advisers will rightly no longer travel great distances chasing some questionable lead.

 

Make remote meetings interesting

Remote meetings can be a bit awkward, when both parties are just staring into their cameras for any length of time. Look to break up this experience a bit by screen sharing during the meeting. Some items to share and run through together might include,

  • An agenda: Always useful, this will put structure around your meeting.
  • A presentation: A thoughtful and informative presentation is a nice break from staring at each other through cameras.
  • Complex data: If you have any complex data to discuss such as investment reports and graphs, providing these visually will significantly enhance the experience and your client’s understanding.
  • Future cashflow plans: Talking through forecasted cashflows and examining “What If” scenarios is extremely powerful in remote meetings.
  • Brainstorming / collaboration tools: Mind mapping tools or virtual whiteboards are a very powerful and engaging way to make your remote meetings more interesting and to stop attention wandering.

 

Have the right set-up for good quality remote meetings

If you agree that remote meetings are here to stay, you need to ensure that you’re not being let down by the technology. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy lots of expensive equipment, however there are a few basic requisites,

  • Good broadband: Without this, remote meetings are a very flawed experience and may do more harm than good. There is nothing more frustrating than someone coming in and out or appearing pixelated as a result of poor broadband.
  • Camera & audio: These don’t have to be expensive additions, many desktops have very good cameras built in. However some laptops don’t… Check the quality of your device camera and if it’s not good enough, buy a decent webcam.
  • Know the features: Whether it’s Zoom or MS Teams that you use, know how to use them. There really isn’t a lot to them, so know and use the features. Use the waiting room functionality and password features as a default, and then understand and check all of the settings are as you want them.
  • Create the best environment: You don’t want to be interrupted during calls, so make sure this won’t happen. Also choose your backdrop carefully – try and avoid too much / too little light and have a tidy background. Some people like to feature bookcases behind themselves, others prefer a tidy, clean background. You can choose backgrounds within Zoom and MS Teams, but beware that these can create strange effects as you move around.

 

Remote meetings are most likely here to stay. Choose how you use them wisely and then put your best foot forward.