February 5, 2020

What Workflows Do You Need

Written By Charesse Spiller

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When I first start working with a new firm, one of the first steps we take is to look at what workflows they currently have in place. Many advisors and business owners are overwhelmed by this process. There’s a fear that there need to be dozens of different workflows for every small process your business has, and that you and your team will never get them quite right.

When I first start working with a new firm, one of the first steps we take is to look at what workflows they currently have in place. Many advisors and business owners are overwhelmed by this process. There’s a fear that there need to be dozens of different workflows for every small process your business has, and that you and your team will never get them quite right. Advisors will often push back against workflow exploration because of this fear, and because they don’t want to get “bogged down” in creating a repeatable workflow and process. This is especially true for solo advisors who are used to doing everything on their own and believe it’s faster to run through a loose process or workflow with each client.Unfortunately, this method of working isn’t usually sustainable. For a solo RIA, it’s true that most of your workflows are already filed away and saved in your head. However, if you ever decide to expand your business or add team members, having these workflows written out and saved in your CRM is invaluable. So, let’s start with the basics. Today I want to go over the building block workflows that every financial planning team needs to have. 

Prospect Workflows

If you want to continue growing your business in a scalable way, you need to have workflows set up for moving your prospective clients through your initial meeting and follow-up process. This is critical because it helps you, as a business owner, to streamline follow-up and keep your sales pipeline organized. You’ll never have to guess where you’re at with a prospect because your workflow will indicate whether you’ve followed up already, or whether they’re no longer an active lead do to lack of a response.Typically, a prospective client will move through two different workflows:

  1. Booking process for new prospects.

  2. Prospect meeting workflows.

These can be combined into one larger workflow if that works better for you and your team. Steps might be:

  1. Send “Prospect Welcome” email template.

  2. Follow-up with the prospective client to schedule a discovery meeting.

  3. 2nd Attempt – Follow-up with the prospect to schedule a discovery meeting.

  4. Last Attempt – Follow-up with the prospect to schedule a discovery meeting.

  5. Update the prospective client’s status in CRM.

  6. Create an Opportunity for the prospective client.

  7. Conduct the Discovery Meeting.

  8. Complete the meeting follow-up (meeting notes and follow-up email).

This is a very broad and relatively general workflow template. You and your team should work to make it your own and leverage technology and automation when possible. 

Client Onboarding

Once a prospect is ready to move forward, you need to have a clear-cut client onboarding process that’s replicable. Your onboarding process should be focused on your individual service offerings, and gathering the data you need to complete each successfully. The biggest steps that are often missed in the client onboarding process is gathering all necessary data for exceptional client experience, and setting reminders for recurring meetings and check-ins with new clients.The more you can drill down into the different information you need from your clients, the more you can create a streamlined workflow that makes your job infinitely easier. For example, if you have both one-time plan offerings and ongoing financial planning services, you may need different information for each of those models.Here are a few examples of what you should include in your client onboarding packet that you deliver as part of your workflow:

  1. Custodian information on how clients can access account statements and make deposits. Often, your custodian will have client-facing deliverables already available for you to use.

  2. Document checklist. Create a branded deliverable for a document checklist, or a “get started” guide. This can include all the information your clients need to send you in order to complete their plan, how they can link their accounts to your planning software, and how to upload documents.

  3. Tech stack overview. Your clients need to know what technology you’ll be using, and when they should use different tools to self-onboard.

Get clear on what questions you need to ask, what documents you need from your new clients, how you want to document meeting notes, and the best way to set up meeting reminders based on their service calendar. This also helps you to create standard workflows for smaller tasks such as meeting followup or scheduling client reviews. 

Meeting Preparation and Follow-Up

Meeting preparation is a core area where I believe advisors can begin outsourcing work or reassigning tasks to another team member to streamline their business. This makes meeting preparation and follow-up a key area to drill down a clear process for you and your team. As you build out your meeting preparation process, here are some steps to think about:

  1. Make sure the accounts are linked to your financial planning software, and that all data is updated.

  2. Confirm all the information needed for meeting preparation is uploaded into the online filing system.

  3. Review past meeting notes to confirm if there are any pending items to review with the client. If there are any outstanding activities listed in the CRM, add it to your meeting agenda.

  4. Contact the client to send in any missing information you need.

  5. Prepare meeting materials.

This is information a team member can gather on behalf of you, the advisor, to get up to speed.Meeting follow-up, on the other hand, is a different story. If a financial plan needs updating, the task can be outsourced to a team member or paraplanner. However, assigning the next steps can only be completed by the person in the meeting. In other words, you need a process for taking time post-meeting to send any notes and task assignments to your team!It’s easy to jump from meeting to meeting without taking notes or having a standard internal follow-up process, and that’s how things fall through the cracks. Documenting meeting notes for your team to have clarity on what should be next and sent to the client is essential. Consider using a notes dication service like copy talk or mobile assistant to speed up this process. 

New Account Opening

Anytime you open a new account, you want that workflow to be the same across all clients. This is especially important as you either start to grow your team or outsource some of your financial planning work. The last thing you want is for a critical component of managing someone’s portfolio to slip through the cracks because you missed a step in their workflow.New account opening may seem like a “given” when building out your workflows, but it’s critical to communicate this process to your clients. When you’re dealing with a client’s money and life savings, you need to keep them up to date along the way and help them to understand how you manage their wealth. Typically, I recommend that my clients have a step-by-step process for opening accounts and confirming with their clients that they’ve been successfully opened and that assets have been transferred. Clients should also know how to access their new accounts in case they want to check-in. 

Client Close-Out

Whether you’re working with clients in an ongoing capacity, or you perform one-time plans, you’re going to run into situations where you need to close out a client. It’s important to do this in a secure and compliant way to continue to provide exceptional service, even when your client is leaving your firm. Here are a few steps to keep in mind for client close-out:

  1. Acknowledge the client is leaving.

  2. Ask why if applicable – and make a note if they should reengage in the future.

  3. Communicate the final billing that will be necessary, and update their billing profile internally.

  4. Update your CRM and software.

  5. Give the client a specified timeframe to access their documents from your tech stack. Once that timeframe has expired, remove the client from having access.

 

Key Concepts to Remember When Building Workflows

As you write out your workflows, it can be helpful to tackle the task in two steps. First, you can write out your workflows as they currently exist. From there, you can audit those workflows and look for places where you can:

  1. Incorporate automation.

  2. Eliminate extra steps that clients may be taking.

Ultimately, you want your workflows to help you build a streamlined financial planning practice, and help you elevate your customer service. If you can find ways to revise your existing workflows to make them easier on both you and your clients, you’re taking a step in the right direction! Want to discuss your workflows? Consider scheduling an Operations Coaching Call with me today to discuss what workflows your business currently has, and how they can be improved.

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