Over 90% of clients think that companies could “do better” when it comes to the onboarding process.
This stat from Hubspot refers to client onboarding in general, but think about the implication for you as a financial advisor. Your clients are entrusting you with all of their money and wealth — potentially millions of dollars in assets.
Financial client onboarding is your one (and only) chance to prove that you’re knowledgeable, capable, and worthy of their trust. For that reason, you can’t afford to have anything less than a perfectly streamlined onboarding process.
You’ve already learned how to get clients through an experienced marketing coach or your own experience in the business. Now it’s time to convert those leads into loyal clients who will stick with you through thick and thin.
In this post, we’ll offer expert advice on every phase of the financial advisor-client onboarding process. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to onboard clients and lay the foundation for long-term relationships.
Let’s get started!
Client Onboarding 101
You worked hard to get those leads with your online marketing efforts. You worked even harder to nurture them.
Now the moment of truth is here: Someone has requested more information about your services.
What happens next is crucial to delivering a customer service experience that will “wow” your future client. You might think of it as a series of signatures and handshakes, but potential clients will expect more than that before entrusting you with all their worldly goods.
A huge part of a successful onboarding process is having the right tools and resources to track your workflow. If you aren’t already using customer relationship management (CRM) software, start by doing some research on popular brands. This helps you manage your workflow and keep track of where each prospect is in your process.
You’ll need a scheduling tool to set appointments and send automated reminders. To ensure you’re not starting from scratch with every new prospect, create a template for questionnaires, proposals, and meeting agendas. Finally, make sure you have personalized follow-up procedures in place, from thank you emails to small gifts.
How to Onboard Clients: 8 Steps for Success
Now that you have everything organized, let’s look at each step of the client onboarding process. We’ll explain exactly how to get clients to know you, trust you, and sign on the dotted line.
1. Start With a Personalized Welcome Letter
As soon as someone expresses an interest in your financial services, thank them. A handwritten letter provides a nice personal touch, but if you don’t have the time, an email will suffice.
Either way, it’s the perfect way to break the ice before you actually meet. Address the individual by name and express your appreciation for their interest in your services. Invite them to contact your team if they have any questions or concerns before the scheduled consultation.
If you have any upcoming events between now and the time you’re supposed to meet, let the individual know. Invite them to attend the event so you can learn more about each other. Close the letter with another thank you and the assurance that you look forward to meeting them soon.
It may not seem like much, but remember — it’s often the little things that matter most.
2. Offer to Connect on Social Media
Another way to show personal interest is by offering the chance to connect on social media. Not everyone will accept a friend request on Facebook, but most clients will be happy to connect on LinkedIn.
Why should you take this seemingly extra step? Think of the insight you’ll gain into the person’s life before the initial consultation. You can learn about their work history, recent promotions, family status, and other important life events.
3. Send a Contract & Questionnaire
Before your meeting, send over all applicable paperwork so the person has a chance to look things over. Be honest and transparent as you explain the details of your services and your fee structure. Your prospect should have a crystal clear idea of what to expect if they hire you as their financial advisor.
This is also the time to pull out that questionnaire template and send it over to your prospective client. Many inexperienced financial advisors skip this step, but that’s a big mistake.
Here’s just some of the valuable information you can learn from this questionnaire:
- Current employer
- Current income
- Current assets and liabilities
- Plans for retirement
- Any relevant estate planning or tax documents
- Investment experience and objectives
- Financial preferences and opinions (rated on a scale of 1-5)
- Any specific financial goals
- Other values (besides money) that are most important to them
Because you’re using a pre-made template, it requires little effort on your part to get this questionnaire into their hands. Their responses will give you invaluable insight that you can use to make the consultation a success.
4. Confirm Meeting Time & Agenda
Again, this is a small step that’s easily overlooked.
Don’t assume your prospect knows where your office is or how to get there. Offer a well-known landmark as a reference, as well as any shortcuts or tips to help them find you easily.
If you’re meeting virtually, be sure to confirm the date and time and send all the information they’ll need to log into the meeting. Call the individual two or three days before, leaving a voicemail if they don’t answer. It never hurts to follow up with an email or another call the next day to ensure they received your message.
5. Prepare Your Office & Eliminate Distractions
Before the meeting, make sure your office is spotlessly clean and organized. Let your receptionist or other staff know who you’re expecting so they can greet the individual by name.
If you’re meeting virtually, ensure there’s no distracting clutter or noises in the background.
Speaking of distractions, make sure the client has your full and undivided attention. Silence all notifications on your phone and computer and ensure no one else enters the room during the meeting.
One more word of advice: Don’t become a distraction for the client by focusing on yourself. It’s natural to want to share your story (and the client will likely ask questions), but try to keep the focus on them.
6. Follow Your Prepared Agenda
To ensure you stay on track, always use a prepared agenda for each meeting. This should include an easy-to-follow checklist for both yourself and your client.
Every client is unique, of course, but you should have a general outline for the things you want to discuss. These might include:
- Financial overview
- Analysis of cash flow
- Goal & market reviews
- Investment reviews
- Insurance details
- Philanthropic interests
During the meeting, try to go beyond dollars and cents. Find out about the person’s family, health status, hobbies and interests, and long-term goals. You need to understand who they are as a person before you attempt to manage their assets.
It’s okay to use some technology to help you stay on track, but resist the urge to explain everything through PowerPoint presentations. The main goal of the onboarding process is to develop a relationship with your prospective client.
7. Review & Schedule a Second Meeting
If there are any actionable steps you want the client to take, make sure it’s fully understood before they leave the meeting. Invite them to ask questions if any of your expectations and explanations are unclear.
Expert tip: If at all possible, try to pin down a date and time for the next meeting. You don’t want to waste days or even weeks playing phone tag or sending emails back and forth.
The client should walk out of the meeting with everything they need to move forward, including paperwork and a scheduled second meeting.
8. Don’t Forget to Follow Up
The onboarding process doesn’t end after the meeting. While the details are still fresh in your mind, update the client’s profile in your CRM software. Note any changes you need to make based on the new information you learned during the meeting.
A few business days after the meeting, be sure to send out a follow-up thank you note. Include the highlights of the meeting and encourage the individual to contact you with any additional questions or thoughts. A handwritten letter is ideal, but a well-written email serves the same purpose.
Finally, you’ll want to sit down and put together a financial plan to present at the second meeting. If all goes well, your onboarding process will then be complete and you’ll have a brand new client!
How to Get Clients (And Keep Them)
You worked hard to nurture those leads. You feel thrilled when someone calls to schedule a consultation.
But don’t start celebrating just yet. Financial client onboarding isn’t as easy as a few signatures and a handshake. You’ve got a lot of work to do before, during, and after the initial meeting to turn that prospect into a loyal client.
Bookmark this article and refer back to it as you’re streamlining your client onboarding process. The more efficient you are, the more likely you are to form long-last relationships.
Could you benefit from the experience of a knowledgeable marketing coach? Would you like to know how to market yourself, how to get clients, and how to run a thriving wealth management business?
We offer free private business evaluations and scheduling consultations to new and experienced financial advisors. Give us a call at 303-808-8719 or use our online contact form to get in touch. We’ll gladly answer any questions you may have!