February 17, 2021

How to Gather Data from Existing Clients

Written By Charesse Spiller

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You’ve gone through your full sales cycle and finally signed a new client who is a perfect fit for your practice – congratulations! Now, the client service process begins.

You’ve gone through your full sales cycle and finally signed a new client who is a perfect fit for your practice – congratulations! Now, the client service process begins.

Often when clients first start working with Level Best, they know there are holes in their client data gathering process but aren’t sure how to identify and fix them. In some cases, we see advisors who are gathering too much information from their clients. Other times, advisors are gathering quality data but aren’t asking the right questions to ensure a seamless onboarding or ongoing planning experience for their clients. Finally, in almost every case we work with, advisors need to streamline their data gathering to make it more user-friendly and efficient. Let’s dig into what type of data you need from clients, what tools to use to gather data, and how to store and update client information for future use.

What Data Is Needed?

I would say that, more often than not, advisors piecemeal their data gathering process. This happens for a couple of reasons, the advisor is trying to avoid bogging down the client with requesting too many documents or the firm doesn’t have a process for analyzing financial statements as they come in. This impulse is very logical. No advisor would ever want to make things more difficult for their existing clients, only to realize the firm did in fact have the necessary information needed. However, when you collect information from your clients in a disorganized way, your team also can struggle to understand how to analyze financial documents and where to find information that has been previously gathered from the client. You want to ensure that you’re asking the right questions at the right time to gather the data you need.

So, what information should you look for from a client in preparation for meetings? Think about the reports and deliverables you plan to present during a financial planning meeting. I recommend pulling up your financial planning software and identifying which tabs you plan to review with a new client. From there, determine what information within your deliverables and reports will be required to complete your financial plan in the presentation meeting. This information is what you need to gather from a client. 

Once you have your list, break it down even further by looking at the information you already have for the client. This might come from past meeting notes, action items, and access you have to managed accounts. You may need to ask clients for some information after reviewing all of your data, but it will likely be limited. Information you need from them may include:

  • Statements or information for non-managed accounts

  • Updates from other financial professionals the client is working with (accountants, insurance brokers, etc.)

  • Unique financial information based on questions that a client has asked in past meetings or during your sales cycle

What Tools Should You Use?

Once you know what data you need from a client, you can find the best suite of tools to gather that information seamlessly to increase the overall efficiency of your practice. Here are the tools I recommend using for data gathering:


All information from your clients should be stored here. Firms should create best practices that clearly state that all activities and notes that happen with clients between meetings should be documented in the CRM for future reference both for an individual advisor and their team. It’s also wise to use your CRM to review activities and tasks that are specific to each client to ensure that they’re being addressed during your engagement. 

Data Gathering Software

Using a system such as Precise FP or Jotform can help you to gather updated information from your clients whether they’ve newly signed on, or have been with your firm for a while. These systems make it easy for a client to send you all of the information you need in one place rather than sending multiple data gathering requests across different platforms. 

It is a standard best practice to have one form that you always use for client onboarding, and one set of forms that you always use for standard meeting agendas and review (these will be dependent on your service model). 

Secure Document Upload System

This can be a standalone tool, or you can request documents through your financial planning software. You can, however, also use tools such as Dropbox, Box, or Sharefile

Financial Planning Software

Your financial planning software should be used for collecting documents and information on outside, or non-managed, accounts. The advisor should also review planning software to see if any pending actions are remaining for the upcoming meeting.

Planning software can be used for data aggregation for non-managed accounts, and can be used for analyzing the data which would be the next step in your process. 

Storing & Updating Client Data

Once all information is gathered for client onboarding or review, you can begin updating your systems with new information as it comes in. It’s wise to put naming conventions into practice for your firm so that you can easily track various client forms and data submissions over time (i.e. <ownership, company name policy type x1234, Charesse’s Hartford 30-Year Term x5467). If you are a larger firm with staff who prepares meeting materials, it’s wise to keep all notes in one quick-reference folder. This can be stored in your CRM or a secure document tool used across the company. 

It’s also wise to update your CRM regularly after conversations with the client outside of formal data gathering checkpoints. This might mean clearing out pending tasks that a firm had for a client as they’ve been completed or adding action items for advisors to review that may be unique to a specific client. The client’s portal should also be updated when new information is available to maintain visibility. 

Streamlining Your Data Gathering Process May Take Time

Streamlining the data gathering process is top of mind for most advisors. However, putting systems in place to accomplish this may take time, and perfecting your process could take years of being “in the business” to figure out what works best for you and your team. So, be patient and stay dedicated! Set aside time to organize your business, or hire outside consultants or implementors to help you accomplish your goals.

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