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What You'll Learn In Today's Episode:

  • The importance of having a process from the beginning.
  • How to lay the groundwork with prospects.
  • The difference between the first-year process and the ongoing process.
  • How to instill confidence when it comes to major life changes.
  • Ways you can ensure you have a plan for every meeting.
  • How to deliver ongoing value and communicate it to clients.
  • What reschedules mean and what to do with that information.

Your prospect just said ‘yes’—now what? Don’t panic! Micah and Matthew have tips, strategies, and answers for you. One of the key ways that they recommend navigating a new client relationship is to lay the groundwork early and communicate the processes you have in place. Today, they share the different elements of creating and implementing a process, as well as real-life insight from how they make it work in their own practices.

Listen in to get a look into how what you do now will affect your long-term client relationship and its success. Matthew and Micah pull out their best practices and procedures that ensure clients are well prepared, the team is well prepared, and everyone has clarity on what kind of service will be provided. If you have no idea what to talk about with clients and how to get new clients started off with success and confidence, this episode is for you.

  • We hear all of the time being in the RIA space is lonely. It is hard to find like-minded individuals who want to help you to achieve success.

    And most likely, you often ask yourself the same question (we all do)  – Where do I start?

    The TPR’s Starter Kit offers you access to the One Page Financial Plan, Time Blocking & Buckets, our most popular power sessions of all time!

Podcast Article:

What to Do When a Prospect Says Yes

Bringing a new client on board might feel like crossing a finish line, but it’s only the beginning.

Every financial advisor knows how important a healthy prospect process is to their overall success—but when that prospect becomes a client, do you know exactly what will happen at every step of the way? If you don’t, you’re not just leaving your client and team in the dark; you’re missing valuable opportunities to make your clients’ lives easier. Here are four strategies for taking control of your client relationships and delivering massive value at every step of the way.

Action Items in This Article

  • Develop a one-page process for what happens when clients come on board.
  • Schedule all of your value-adds for new and existing clients for the following year.
  • Empower your team to help a client understand tricky or confusing situations in advance so there are no surprises.

Lay the Groundwork From the Very Beginning

Well before a prospect has agreed to become a client, set firm expectations for what it will be like to work with you and your team. By answering a prospect’s questions before they ever have a chance to ask them, you’re adding important reassurance that you have their best interest at heart and ultimately making it easier for them to say yes.

The time to set those expectations is from the very beginning, right when they walk in the door. If you don’t preemptively answer their most pressing questions about what they’re in for, they’re likely to spend the whole meeting wondering, “What’s going to happen next if I say yes? Will I be asked to sign something today? What will happen to my investment accounts? When will we have our next meeting?”

To avoid having these uncomfortable and distracting questions stand between your prospect and the value you’re trying to give them, spend the very beginning of your first meeting with a prospect explaining your communication policy, your meeting schedule, and anything else they might want to know about what it’s like to be a client.

Develop a One-Pager With Your Team

It’s happened to every advisor at least once: the prospect says yes a bit earlier than you expected, and suddenly, you and your team are in scramble mode, looking at each other and wondering, “Is the prospect getting a call every week to let them know the status of their asset transfer? Are they already scheduled for their next meeting? Do they know what’s going to happen in order? Do we?” If you don’t have an onboarding process in writing, you and your team are going to suffer behind the scenes.

“Most importantly,” Matthew adds, “the client is going to suffer because they’re in this great unknown. They’ve decided to make perhaps one of the biggest financial decisions of their life, and they don’t know what step three is because you might not know it either.” With a clear vision for just what experience every new client should have, you and your team can build a simple process—simple enough to fit on a single page—for delivering the same great experience for every client.

Explain Exactly How You’ll Deliver Value

When your business is based on systems and processes, you know exactly how you’ll deliver value and how often. Make sure that key selling point takes a prominent spot in your discussions with prospects.

Micah likes to help new clients understand both his first-year and his ongoing new client processes. It’s not a brag; it’s a way for him to impress on the client how important processes really are to his practice and, ultimately, his clients’ long-term success.

This includes areas of his business where someone from his team might be the one to handle a particular client request. Touching on this type of internal policy helps clients understand that if they can’t reach you directly with a particular request, that isn’t a slight; it’s exactly the strategy your office relies on to keep everything running as smoothly as possible and everyone on the same page.

Have a Plan for Every Meeting

Micah remembers spending entire meetings floundering, going through one investment at a time, never really knowing the context or explanations that would deliver the most value or whether he was engaging his clients. He somehow managed to retain those clients, but the pain and suffering he experienced could have been avoided by having a clear process for each meeting, with talking points and timely information, and a clear sense of where the client received value and what they should do or think about before the next meeting.

Having a value-add cycle helps both you and your clients know what to expect, and a detailed agenda for each meeting helps ensure that every meeting sets the same clear expectations with every client. Don’t just plan when you’ll meet; write out clear talking points and action topics so every client is taken through the exact same information in the same way and receives the same massive value, every time.

Resources In Today's Episode:

Read the Transcript Below:

This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…

Micah Shilanski: Welcome to another amazing episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I’m your cohost and co-founder, Micah Shilanski. And with me as usual, the legendary Matthew Jarvis.

Matthew Jarvis:   Micah, it looks like you are recording from your new house today, or you’re in a library with no books, one of the two.

Micah Shilanski: Yes, I’m in a library, no books, also known as my house. And this will be the stage of my future office. So, hopefully, it’s not two echo-y, but we’re less than two weeks before we’re actually moving in. So, there’s a lot of stuff on the punch list. So, we’re kind of camping out here.

And in fact, shortly, talk about highest and best use of time, I got about 30 dump trucks showing up and I got to go spread some gravel. So, I got a bulldozer, an excavator, and a whole bunch of heavy equipment toys that I’m going to go play with, because that is the highest and best use of my time.

Matthew Jarvis:   It does bring up an interesting point, which is not the topic of our podcast today, but there is certainly a … you and I are just almost zealots when it comes to efficient use of time. Like we are this laser-focused on efficient use of time.

But there is also like that needs to intersect with joy. And so, your example of spreading gravel, like boy, it sounds like a lot of fun for me to hop on a bulldozer for all day and drive a bulldozer around. Is that an efficient use of my time? Not at all. Does it bring me joy, yes.

And so, there’s an intersection there where we have to solve like efficiency versus joy, a whole episode on that at some point.

Micah Shilanski: Another thing that also comes to it, this is about getting crap done, which is something that you and I specialize in. So, do I specialize as a heavy equipment operator? No. Like not even close.

However, we want to move in, with two weeks and more stuff needs to get done. And I was kind of tired of hearing this thing about, “Oh, the weather this and the weather that.” Screw it, I’ll just figure it out myself. It can’t be that complicated. And it’s not complicated, but it is hard.

So, now, we’re just going to figure it out and we’re just going to get it done. So, you got to have that great balance. Just like when we’re working with clients, we can’t have an excuse with a client of saying, “Oh, I got busy, therefore, I didn’t get back to you.”

No, you are the entrepreneur, you’re the advisor that’s going to be there. You said you’d get it done by X, then by God get it done by X.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love the transition there. I was trying to think how we’re going to go from bulldozers to client service. But kind of on your point of getting things done, you also need to do the same thing as it relates to the onboarding process, which is what we want to talk about today.

A prospect says yes, and sometimes you’ve got to get down into the weeds and say, “Great, is the prospect getting a call every week to let them know the status of their asset transfer? Are they already scheduled for their next meeting? Do they know what’s going to happen in order?”

These things, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get in this, because if you don’t have an onboarding process in writing, like a one-pager, here’s what happens, when you become a client — you are going to struggle,your team’s going to struggle.

Most importantly, the client is going to suffer because they’re in this great unknown. They’ve decided to make perhaps one of the biggest financial decisions of their life and they don’t know what step three is because you might not know it either.

Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And so, the kind of theme of this that I like to know with my ongoing client meetings is, are they predictable? Do my clients know in advance of what’s going to happen? I don’t want surprises in my client meetings.

Sure, the client can bring up a surprise to me, that’s fine. But I want to do the best I can divulging as much as I have up front, with when we’re going to have meetings, what we’re going to talk about, the flow of the meetings. My meetings are extremely consistent.

Well, the good news about this client is when we come in, well, Micah, I know you’re going to ask about cash flow and about this and about that, and they already have those numbers. Fantastic. Now, I get to do my job better and they like consistency.

Again, you said this is the largest financial transaction they’re probably ever going to make in their life and we want to be predictable, we want to be consistent. We want to be seen as someone that it says a lot of value they can place, and because they know exactly what’s going to happen and it’s not a mystery as to where their money’s going.

Matthew Jarvis:   No. Boy, there’s so many avenues here, but I’m going to step back. So, when we are in what we call the prospect process, so before the prospect has agreed that it makes sense to work with our office, an educated and informed decision, I already want to lay the groundwork of what it’s going to be like.

Hey, if we decide to work together (notice the “we,” because it’s a mutual decision) let me just outline for you kind of how this process is going to work. And I can quickly in just a couple minutes, walk them through the high points. Lots of things.

Again, I’m starting to lay the groundwork for expectations. I’m making it easier for them to say yes. Otherwise, they’re going to say, “Well, if I say yes, what happens? Like what happens to my investment accounts? When do we meet?” All these things.

So, if we decide to work together, I just want you to know the process that we’re going to go through to make sure that that makes sense to you.

Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. Then it’s not just the first-year process, it’s also the ongoing process because those are different. The things you’re going to be doing in the first year, maybe it’s the first six months, but whatever that onboarding process is, then they get into the normal client rotation.

Have you constructed them on what that normal client rotation is? So, it’s predictable for them and they get to see what that value is going to be coming down the road.

I love doing foreshadowing with my clients. “Hey, great news, when you’re 65, these are things we’re going to bring up. When you’re 68, we’re going to talk about this, when you’re 59, these are things that we’re going to bring up.”

Because sometimes, I’m going to talk about things in our first-year meeting that aren’t super appropriate. Maybe I got a 55-year-old that’s hiring us, because he’s retiring in the next two years. Fantastic. You know what? I’m really not going to have a detailed conversation about aging in place with a 55-year-old. That’s something I kind of save to 68.

But I’m going to say when we’re going over our risk management, “Hey, when we’re 68 and working together, these are some of the conversations we’re going to have.”

I love doing that foreshadowing, puts me in their future and says we’re going to continue to working together. But then they also know, they get a glimpse of saying, “Hey, I actually have a plan over the next few decades to make sure they’re getting value out of this relationship.”

Matthew Jarvis:   And this is definitely something Micah, that’s not a place for adlibbing. So, a client or prospect comes to the meeting and they drop a question that you weren’t expecting them to drop, great. That’s a great time to say, “Well let’s talk through, let me try to figure out how to get to the core of this issue.”

But when you’re explaining how it is then they become a client or what it’s like to work with you, that needs to be something that’s well-practiced. Not because you’re trying to be this ultra-refined salesperson. But because the more confidence you have in your process, the more confidence the client will have in your process. Therefore, the more likely they are to follow it.

If you’re saying like, “Hey, well maybe, I think somebody will call you from the office and we’ll do some paperwork, I think …” That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence with your life savings.

But if you’re saying, “Hey, here’s the process and you know what, sometimes these companies forget whose money this is, but don’t worry, we’re going to follow up on it every single week until every penny’s been accounted for.” That instills confidence again, in this major life transition.

Micah Shilanski: And this is something that’s come up, Jarvis. One of the things that we’re going to do this actually coming week is a webinar on the entire client process. And now, we had a little bit of a change, we were going to do it on something else, but then we had great feedback from our members that says, “Hey, we want more depth into client processes and what you guys do.”

And we love listening to our members. So, we’re actually going to change this up and we’re going to get more in depth in that. But kind of the genesis of this for me Jarvis, was I remember those days (it’s actually very painful even to think about it) when I had a client up front and had no idea what I was going to talk about for my two-hour meeting block that I had with the client.

And it was like how much do I talk about their investments and like going through like one investment at a time, trying to show value in investments, when really, that wasn’t my investment, but I had no context of really how to deliver value.

So, it was kind of going through that pain and suffering in those client meetings, and they’re actually still clients today. So, something apparently worked, but I definitely wouldn’t duplicate it.

That pain and suffering in that client meeting to come back to today and say, “Okay great, I need a process where the client is seeing instant value. I’m not forcing them into a two-hour meeting. It’s going to be a one-hour cap. And then, here’s our outline for how we’re going to have meetings and how I’m going to deliver it.”

So, I had to come up with time blocks where like, “Okay, great, this is kind of my opening, this is where I’m going to get to the core of materials.”

I kind of have a PNR, a point of no return in the meeting, that if I have something to bring up that’s not critical, but I’d like to bring up, once I get past a certain point in the meeting, I’m not going to bring up any new content because I got to start wrap up and action items. And I got to leave that space open.

So, I’ve kind of created this craft of it, inside of this meeting framework, and then we put on top of that, our client process, to say, “Okay, great, for the new clients we’re going to meet with them four to six times in the first year, and here’s the five things that we’re going to cover. And then you’re going to become a recurring client. We’re going to meet with you two to four times a year depending on what you need, and here are the things that we’re going to step through.”

And this is critical that not only that you know what this process is, but your team knows what these processes are as well. So, we can say this is our prospect, prospect, this is our first-year new client process, and then this is our ongoing client process.

Matthew Jarvis:   Well, and like you said, for your team to know and then for you to know what does your team need in that process. And by the way, I’m so glad we’re doing this webinar this week because it’s occurred to me that, really, nowhere in the industry do we peel back the curtains on a practice.

Like I have never ever, in my entire 19-year career, been in a presentation where they said, “Here’s what happens when a prospect says yes, and here’s how we get a new client.” Have you ever seen that presentation, Micah?

Micah Shilanski: The only thing that I would say would come close to it, is when advisors — I’m going to go back to a BD conference; the rare time that they would bring up an advisor and the advisor would talk about their entire process.

And most of the time, that was more the sales side of it. Very rarely did it go into the new client process. It was just how to get a sale. But I would talk with advisors on that process, but that’s it.

Matthew Jarvis:   Sure. Yeah, I remember even like in my early days working at an insurance-based broker dealer, and they would talk about like how do you sell an insurance policy. And they would never talk about like how do you go through this giant stack of paperwork with a client? Like these rejection forms and whatever.

But with my team for example, as soon as I walk out of that second prospect meeting, one of the things we sit down and do, is do the new client onboarding spreadsheet, which for our members of course, we’ll show, we will talk about it on Wednesday.

We go through, we have a list of net worth statement, and then next to that, we’re listing what accounts do we need to open at Fidelity? What transfers do we need? Of course, we have our standard checklist. We need letters of instruction, and we need household and these different things.

But we just sit down for a minute with my team and that made it so much more effective. Back to our bulldozer example, from the beginning, if I take that one minute to get down all the way in the trenches, yes, should my team be able to figure this out? Yeah, maybe. But it goes so much smoother if I take just a couple of minutes, outline that out.

And so, that’s one of the things we’ll talk about on Wednesday is, how do you empower your team so that — I know Micah it’s same in your office, that I’m never touching paperwork. I’m never following up on asset transfers, that’s not my job.

Sometimes I look to make sure it’s all done, spot-checking. But the process is in place.

Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, and sometimes, we get the wrong focus on this. I’m going to push back a little bit on kind of what you said. You said the team should be able to figure out getting into the weeds, and I would like to separate that out a little bit.

The team is phenomenal at like doing paperwork. About making sure all the Is are dotted, making sure all the Ts are crosses and doing all those things, because that-

Matthew Jarvis:   Writing legibly.

Micah Shilanski: Yes, writing legibly, following up. Fantastic. They’re rock stars at that. Where we are rock stars at is putting the pieces together. We can step back from a higher point of view and we could say, “Ah, these pieces need to be in this order.”

So, sometimes, we got to get into the weeds to see those pieces, then we got to step back, we got to put them all in order, and then build that process for our team, and then our team can run it. And that’s success.

When I lived in the campus, it says, “Damn it, you should be able to figure this out. It’s not that complicated.” Stuff wouldn’t get done and my team and I were just more at odds versus working in a team.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, I want to empower, and like I said, it’s a team approach and a lot of it is what works. Micah, to your point, me sitting on my pedestal, boy aren’t I so smart? Yeah, that’s a lot of fun, I guess. But it doesn’t actually get done.

And if I say, “Great, my team is really good at paperwork,” if I take just a few minutes to say here’s what the accounts we need, also preempts me being upset down the road that I didn’t communicate that, “Hey, actually we want to open this Roth account,” even though they don’t have Roth, like I want to open one.

Well, how is the team going to know that, unless I sat down and said, “Hey part of our plan is open Roth, we’ll fund them next year, but I want to do them all at once as an example.”

Micah Shilanski: Yeah, with the client signing something, sign all the paperwork that you can. Get that done just so it’s less of a headache.

I’m on the same board. Like if you’re going to open up Roths next year, and I don’t know, the custodian will open it for like six months or whatever, I would just have him do all the paperwork at once. Yeah, pro tip right there.

Jarvis, one of the things I want to kind of talk about is how are we planning to deliver ongoing value and are you explaining this to a client? I’d love to talk about it two folds.

Is one of the things I love doing with prospects is explaining here you came as a prospect, here’s our new client process for the first year, and then here’s our ongoing client process.

What I love about explaining that is that gives them a time where I can read their body language, when it’s not jiving with them. And they’re like, “Whoa, I’m really not interested in that. I just want you to build an investment plan and like trade crypto on a daily basis. Keep me updated on stock prices. I need to be able to text you in the morning on buys and sell that I want to do. But if I can’t do them, I need you to be able to do them.”

These are all conversations that I’ve actually had, all these terrible things. And this is phenomenal. So, I can always say, “Whoa, I’m so glad you’re bringing this up. We don’t actually do that. This is all we do.”

And what I love about that is it really highlights, maybe I misread that client relationship and I was about to go down this thing that was going to be a giant failure for both of us, which now, I get to step back and say, “Nope, this is the process. You either fit into this or you don’t.” And the more niche-y I am in that process, the more clients frigging love it.

Matthew Jarvis:   Well, that’s critical. Even things like I mentioned earlier, we’re going to follow up with you every week to let you know the status of your transfers. What I didn’t say is every day or every minute.

I always mention this example of analogies, Micah — excuse me; not analogies — expectations, which is if you don’t communicate expectations with clients, the odds that their imagination and your imagination align are like you saying, “Pick a number between one and a million and I’ll think of the same number.”

So, again, that thing as simple as, “Hey we’re going to talk to you once a week.” Cool, whatever number they had in their mind is now once a week. Or Micah, to your point, they say, “Wait a second, no, I expect my advisor to call me every morning at 6:00 AM when the market opens.”

Ah, okay, well we have an issue here and I’d rather find that issue out now than before we start down the path of paperwork.

Micah Shilanski: That’s right. Then I give them like Ben Brandt’s number or somebody. No, I’m just teasing Ben, I love Ben.

Matthew Jarvis:   All my good friends, yeah.

Micah Shilanski: All my good friends. Here’s their cell phone.

Matthew Jarvis:   Here’s their cell phone.

Micah Shilanski: These are really important things to be thinking about. And then one of the other things, Jarvis, I’m going to talk about … I talked with another advisor earlier this week and it kind of brought up another point, but are clients looking forward to your meetings?

We can very much from an ego standpoint say, “Well, of course, my clients are looking forward to the meetings. They to come in, they get a cookie, a cup of coffee.” Those are the two best things they get in my office by the way. And then it’s downhill from there.

So, but they get to come in the office, they get to meet with us. But how do you tell versus your opinion, on if clients are looking forward? For me it’s reschedules. What’s your rescheduled calendar look like?

If all of a sudden — because this came up earlier this last week when I was talking to another advisor; he has a lot of reschedules and he was like, “Hey, during surge I got all these reschedules, where do I fit in?”

Matthew Jarvis:   Oh, that kind of … like cancellation and reschedule. Yeah, okay. Sure

Micah Shilanski: So, what that means … take those exceptions out; there was a death, there was a car accident, whatever.

But if you have consistent reschedules that are happening, they’re either A, not a good fit for a client or B, your clients see no value in your meeting over the hairdresser, and they’re going to take a hairdressing appointment over going and seeing you, which really sucks when you think about it.

But you really need to look at honestly and say, “Okay great, if that’s happening, what do you need to do to up your value?” Or they’re just the wrong fit and they need to get on a different bus.

Tracy:        Hello TPR listeners, this is Tracy from The Perfect RIA. Because we had such an overwhelming demand, from our listeners and members to learn more about working with new clients, we are excited to share that this month’s power session on October 12th will now be all about how to onboard your new clients.

You will have the opportunity to watch our superstars, Matt and Micah, share the exact onboarding process they use in their own offices to deliver massive value. This session is open to everyone, but you need to register to attend. Be sure to visit theperfectria.com to sign up for the power session today. We’ll see you there.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, no that’s a great one. I used to always, not joke, but I always ask advisors, “What if you had to pay clients to meet with you?” Now, not set aside as a business model, but what if you had to pay a thousand dollars to the client every time they came in? Would you still schedule those meetings?

And so, Micah, I try to use that framework in the prospect process and the onboarding process. Like, “Hey, if I was paying this person to meet with me, would it still be valuable for everybody?”

And it’s just one way, again, we always want to look at our lenses and say, “Hey, the client is not obligated to come in and see me.” Like this isn’t some like 11th commandment, like thou shalt see thy advisor twice a year.

I have to deliver value every time. And if I don’t have value to them, that I think is going to move their life enough to give them a thousand dollars for the time, probably shouldn’t have the meeting.

Micah Shilanski: And Jarvis, that’s a lot that I really wanted to think about too. Going back to my meetings and when they sucked about saying, I wanted to keep people into the full time and be like, “You know what, this isn’t about a time thing.”

Yeah, I got to wrap it up by a certain hour, but I have one set of clients, been clients, oh boy for 18 years, I think, going on 18 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a meeting longer than 25 minutes with them.

Super complex, runs his own business, a lot of tax strategies, a lot of DB planning, a lot of complicated stuff going on. But he gets it at a high level and he’s all about delegating and he’s like, “Next, next, got it, next.” And he loves to fly through these meetings.

Whereas before, I’d really want to keep him in there for a long period in time — when I was first starting, he wanted to wrap that meeting up, and I didn’t get it at the time. Now, I get it.

Now, I got to move at the speed of my client. Sure, the cap is that one hour that’s going to be there. But if I can deliver value and the clients roll over stuff and they want to leave early, then by God, let them leave early.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, if we’ve covered the things that are on their list. And specific to onboarding, if we’ve gotten through the paperwork or whatever needs to be done, that meeting, if we’ve gotten through whatever step we are in the onboarding process — yeah, if they’re all green lights and you’re confident that they’re understanding, there’s definitely this line of like hey, if somebody’s distracted and there’s something else going on in their life, we need to be sensitive to that.

But Micah, if they’re a delegator as you’re pointing out and they just want to know like, “Hey, everything’s taken care of, perfect. Here’s the five things that are all in order.”

I always mention this Micah, I say listen, “I’d be glad to go into as much detail as you’d like on any of these items, but I know you’re busy so I’m going to keep this as an executive summary, is that okay with you?”

They say, “Yeah, that’s actually great. That’s exactly what I’d like.” Or every once in a while, a client will say, “Hey, I’d actually like to understand this one a little bit more.” Perfect, then I slide everything else aside, like physically slide aside, let’s drill into this, make sure I’m answering all the questions you have.

Micah Shilanski: That’s such a genius move. Because as you’re going through and doing this … sorry, I get super excited about it. You’ve done a couple things; one, physically, you’ve pushed everything off of your plate, says, “No, this is important, we really need to figure on this.”

But you’ve also dispelled a little bit where sometimes clients are going to feel in the back of their mind that says, “Hey, is he not telling me something?’’ Well, you are telling them you are not telling them something, it’s fantastic.

You’re saying I’m going to keep it at a high level, I’ll go into as much detail as you want. So, you dispelled this myth, “Is he not telling me anything?” Yeah, you’re summarizing it.

And by the way, we all don’t tell clients a lot just to be clear. And there’s no way I can communicate all 22 years of my financial planning experience in any one-hour situation with a client.

We are automatically filtering out tons of irrelevant information to distill it down to a couple of things that we need to bring to a client. We’re all naturally doing this. And Jarvis, you just articulate that beautifully to a client that says, “Hey, we can keep it at this level whenever there’s something you’re going to be able to dive more in.”

And I would assume your body language also changes a little bit more towards that spouse that had the question, and it says, “Fantastic, let’s go ahead and open this up a little bit. Let’s talk, let’s find out what questions they have.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, the spouse that answered the question or even the spouse that didn’t ask the question, because it was typically a spouse that’s less … we’re getting a whole other side tangent.

I want to make sure that I’m turning my body towards them and really engaging with them and saying, “Wait, tell me what questions you have.” Not to play on stereotypes; Dave and Sue. Dave’s got five questions, Sue doesn’t have any questions. I’ve got Dave’s written down here.

“Sue, what questions do you have? What’s on your mind? How’s your retirement going?” Whatever the case may be. I want to make sure that both people feel comfortable whether this is our initial meeting or it’s our 100th meeting, same process applies.

Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, I’ll tell a quick little client story on this one if I can. So, this happened to me earlier this year on a client I brought on, they’ve interviewed other financial planners, didn’t go over very well. Husband and wife, they keep their finances separate.

They both came into the meeting and she was engaged in talking to me. He was like this and if you can see on the video, turned totally away, not making eye contact with me, looking up at the sky, looking completely away. I’m like over here, he’s not even paying attention to me at all.

So, it was Bob and Sue. And so, I was really chatting with Sue. And the same thing, I went through the whole list of things and then I turned my attention over to Bob and it says, “Bob fantastic, what things do you want to make sure that we’re covering today?”

He says, “Well, this meeting’s really about her.” I said, “Well, fantastic, but you’re here as well. So, what questions do you have?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t have any.” I said “Great, I want you to know that this is an open conversation so you are welcome to interrupt me at any time and I’m happy to answer any questions they have.” And I went back to Sue.

Now, he is like hyper-engaged in the meeting though because all other financial planners, I guess — because she was telling me more about this later, would completely ignore him when he did this because he was a little annoyed to be in the meeting because he saw no value in it.

But we hit so much value with Sue, then he turned around and he’s like, “No, no, no, I want you to talk about my finances now too.” Which is a requirement of ours, but no reason to get to that until it was an issue.

And so, now, they both fully want to work with us and go through it. But it was about giving that individualized attention even when it was borderline rude in the meeting to do that. It’s says, “No, you’re here in the meeting. I’m going to give you this attention, let’s make this happen.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Boy, that’s where the body language is so subtle. I would say rarely is someone’s body language as pronounced as that. So, we’ve had those cases where someone’s totally turned away or their arms are crossed or they’re scowling or they’re huffing.

More often, it’s much more subtle. Are they tapping the pen on the table? Are they kind of looking away? Are they sort of just saying, “Uh-huh, yeah, uh-huh.” Again, when it’s a client that’s been there a long time, you can pick up on those subtleties more easily, you’ve got a deeper relationship.

When it’s a prospect though or a new client, you’ve really got to watch for that, to the point where you need to be noting down, “Are they giving me positive signals or negative signals? Did that statement I said, did that make sense to them? Did that paperwork make sense to them or am I going too fast?”

And if you don’t know then you need to air on the side of, I am going too fast, or I don’t make that clear.

Micah, a couple things I want to transition to, and we’re going to go into great detail on this during our webinar this week; one of the things is as simple as how do you do the paperwork?

Now, in some offices we’re still seeing physical paperwork. In some offices, we’re seeing digital paperwork. I would argue that digital paperwork is more difficult than physical paperwork.

Physical paperwork is great. You could highlight where they need to sign. You’ve got two copies, you could push it towards them. You turn pages together. You could make your jokes about like, “You’ll notice that I’m not listed as the beneficiary here, though we could change that if you ever wanted,” like we all make the same jokes on this stuff.

Digital paperwork, a little trickier. There’s got to — like not spam out on their email and they have to do validation and they got to get two factor and they can’t really figure out what they’re clicking. But you have to have a process for this. It cannot be hit with a custodian, send paperwork and think that it’s done.

Micah Shilanski: One of the things I love about in person paperwork, and I can’t wait for the trolls online to hit me on this one; but I use a blue and pink sign here stickies, and clients frigging love it.

And very few actually, mention about it that there’s difference in blue and pink and it’s all positive when they mention it. But all of a sudden, our completion ratio has gone up fantastically.

Because when I was in person, everything was the same, the sign — the client would often sign in the wrong spot, then we have to go redo paperwork, et cetera. So, it’s blue and pink. That’s the only stickies that we use in our office. And then it always goes down.

Now, someone’s going to ask me, Micah, what do you do if it’s the same sex couple? I use blue and pink. And they say thank you, and they’re very happy with it because it gets done correctly. So, it’s never an issue when I do this. So, I love the in-person paperwork because we can just get it signed.

But Jarvis, back to your — sorry, I’m all excited about my signature.

Matthew Jarvis:   No, no, no.

Micah Shilanski: And back to your point on the online stuff, one of the things that’s really important is like, set up a meeting with the client that they either come to your office with their computer or you’d help them and do a screen share on their computer with your team to get them to get that sign here.

So, you have Schwab, you have Fidelity, whoever on speed dial that you can get their support set up, you can get them logged in. Even if they say they want to do it on their own. Fantastic. Let’s set aside a time that Sharnell in our office, Clarice in our office is going to be available. If you have any questions, we’re just going to set that time available to make sure we can answer your questions.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, it’s important to remember that not a soul on earth understands that paperwork. And I know listeners, “No, I …” No you don’t, don’t tell me that. Page 47 of that contract that was written by the custodians, you don’t know what that means. You don’t know the consequences of that. I’m not trying to be a jerk about this. This is a very stressful thing.

There is a lot of really daunting stuff in there. It’s very easy for the client to drill in on the things, they’re like, “What are their arbitration clause?” “Yeah, I’m sorry. That’s just not negotiable. Like I can’t go back to Fidelity and strike out the arbitration clause.”

What’s really important is that your beneficiaries are in there correctly. And so, to be able to walk them through and say, “Hey, here’s the areas that we need to focus on, here’s all the legal jargon that’s in there. And yes, the attorneys are going to say, you should read this very carefully and get independent counsel.”

And we can joke about that. But it’s a daunting process. So, anything I can do to make it easier to do, easier to understand, critical.

Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, and this is one of the things I talk about a little bit in our transfer process about how the transfer is going to work. Because this is will be a little different. So, I’m going to pick on TSP, because you take money out of a 401(k) plan, they send a check, there’s no electronic transfer.

I was like, “So, here’s what’s going to happen, is Bob and Sue; Bob, you’re going to transfer over your TSP. We’re going to have all this paperwork filled out. We’re going to get everything signed. We’re going to help you submit it to the TSP. It’s going to go to the TSP office.

“Then the TSP office is going to get it, 8 out of 10 times, they’re going to process it. 1 out of 5, 2 out of 10, they’re going to reject it. We’ll get that fixed because they forget it’s your money.”

“But okay, they’re going to process it. Then they’re going to mail out a check and you’re going to get a letter that says, ‘Hey, your TSP balance has been transferred.’ You’re going to log online at TSP, it’s going to say zero. There’s a little bit of a sinking feeling. But you’re going to say, no worries, I trust Micah.”

“You’re then going to log onto your Schwab account. You log onto your Schwab account and you’re expecting to see a million-dollar balance and it also says zero. Now, your heart starts to sink.”

“You call our office on Friday afternoon; the office is closed and Monday’s a holiday. Now you’re like, holy crap, where in the hell is my million?”

And I’m physically doing this, I’m like moving uncomfortable my seat, talking to the client, they’re like, “Where is my money?” And then you’re panicked about it. Well, the TSP is required by law to mail a check. They can’t do it electronic. So, it’s a check. It takes two weeks. So, by the time it leaves them to be deposited in your account.

So, great news, we’re going to keep you to updated on the process of that and we’re going to make sure every penny gets deposited in your account. But you’re going to have a two-week period in time where you’re not going to see your money because it’s in transit.

Now, why do I bring up that story? Because it happened and I didn’t tell a client it was happening this way, and they were blowing up my phone over the weekend. Like, “Where in the hell is my million dollars?” And Monday was a holiday.

So, all of those things, so I love to share that story with a client. I want to set these expectations because they’re going to log online, they’re going to see a zero. Then what are they going to think?

Matthew Jarvis:   Micah, I had an example of that, same exact same scenario happened. We hadn’t done a good enough job warning that that could happen. Colleen had noticed that our phones were blowing up, because she’d get some monitoring when she’s not at the office, which maybe she shouldn’t have, but she did.

And she called me at home. She says, “Jarvis, you need to call this client right now because they think that their money’s all been stolen from their account.” Exact same thing had happened.

So, I called the client. When I called them, they were looking up the telephone number for the FBI, because they had thought that money had been stolen from their accounts. They couldn’t get ahold of us, and they figured it was the next Bernie Madoff. They were ready to call the FBI.

Now, had they called the FBI; they would’ve seen that nothing happened. I don’t need the FBI showing up at my house. And the client, here they’re thinking their entire life savings has disappeared because it’s kind of an f-ed up system. But to your point, Micah, with the TSP, with Boeing VIPs, 401(k)s, same thing.

I also need to highlight, not just for this extreme example of where the heck did my money go; though the prospect has said yes, they’re still trying to decide if they made the right decision. So, no matter how convincing, how much value you deliver, they’re still trying to say like, “Hey, is Micah really our guy or did we make a mistake?”

And every step along the way where things happen exactly like you said they would happen, they say, “Yeah, Micah is our guy.” And every step along the way from my email got spammed out where it didn’t work, that’s them saying, “Is Micah my guy?”

We need that relationship capital there. So, when they become a client and the markets dive, or they decided to buy crypto, we say, “Hey, that’s not a good idea.” They say, “You know what, Micah and Jarvis have been right every single time up to here. I’m going to trust them that they’re right here.”

So, this isn’t just about being really persuasive in your communication, it’s about setting clients up for success for their entire life.

Micah Shilanski: Yeah, it’s really, really important to do that. One of the things that we send out at each one of our steps in financial planning, Jarvis, is a letter. It’s a form letter. And we tell clients it’s a form letter, it’s all … get the same thing.

But they love it because it explains great, what’s a rollover? What’s a transfer? Why did we do it this way? What are reasonable expectations? If something goes wrong, what’s going to be our plan? We’re breaking this down.

We do the same thing with estate planning. We send out what’s a will, what’s a trust, what’s a health care directive. And it’s again, one of those things, “Oh, this is what Micah told me. Oh, this is what Micah told …”

You got to tell them what you’re going to tell them. You got to tell them and you got to tell them what you told them. We got to do this multiple times. Because for you and I, this is day-to-day stuff. Of course, an ACH takes three days. That’s just how you move money between a bank.

To a client, they log on their own bank account, they can instantly move money between checking and savings. Why does it take three days to move it from Schwab?

These are things that we take for granted that we need to hyper explain to clients. I tell all clients, “It takes one week to move money between your brokerage account and your bank account. It may happen faster, but we’re always going to plan for a week.”

Why? Because what if Monday’s a frigging holiday and I told them it was three days and now, I’ve messed up that transfer. So, I’m just getting all preachy here. But setting these expectations with clients on this first-year path really lays the milestones for you in the future.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. As you mentioned about a form letter, this doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, I want to kind of transition this to some action items.

We’re talking about the super high touch, high intensity onboarding process, but it’s not as though I need to be in the office every single day making these phone calls. What I need is a process.

And so, Micah, this is where I really see our first action item comes in. You need to have a process, a one-page process, and we’ll share ours this Wednesday during the webinar of what happens when a prospect says yes? What does your team do? How often do they reach out? What emails do they send out?”

Now, some of it’s going to have to be customized. Like, “Hey, TD Ameritrade, bounced the transfer request. We’re going to have to deal with that.” But assuming it goes smoothly. So, action item number one is what is your one-page process for onboarding a client?

Micah Shilanski: Perfect. So, I love that Jarvis, that one-page thing. Another action step I’m going to say is have you set your value adds for next year?

Now, we haven’t gone to this step in fully communicating, telling clients these are all the things we’re going to do for you next year, a year in advance. But have you set those value-adds, because new clients as well as existing clients should be getting these and you and your team need to go through this.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. And if you heard us speak about Micah, as you mentioned our 2023 value-add calendar, we’re going to be talking about that in December for our members. We’ll have that all posted. But this week on Wednesday, really going to go deep into this onboarding process.

Action item number three, would be to have your team articulate to you. And I would use this example, Micah, you had it. Let’s say the prospect, new client, logs into their old account, it says zero. Logs into their new account, it says zero. How did we warn them about that?

Have your team tell you, “Hey, how do we warn them that that could happen?” And by the way, if your team doesn’t know that could happen, that’s issue number one. So, how did we warn the client for that? How can we warn them going forward?

Micah Shilanski: Awesome. Well, Jarvis, as always, this is a blast to go into. Make sure you implement these processes because it’s all about action items. And until next time, happy planning.

Matthew Jarvis:   Happy planning.

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