The situation

You suspect your client has money in multiple places, but you’re afraid to ask outright.

There are subtle ways to find out if your client has assets with another advisor. You can look at their tax return to see if the dividends, interest and capital gains match your records. Or, when you’re doing a holistic plan, ask if areas that appear missing, such as a children’s education savings plan or insurance products, are being held elsewhere.

Some advisors won’t take a client unless they have all their assets. Others ask for the remaining assets only once a relationship has deepened and the client is satisfied with the experience.

If your approach is to broach the topic once a client is satisifed:

ASK

When do you see my role as your advisor expanding so I can look after all of your assets?

NOT

The performance in your portfolio looks great. Does that mean that you’ll be transferring the rest of your assets in?


ASK

We’ve thoroughly reviewed your registered plans. Would it be helpful to go over the non-registered assets and see if we can put a plan together for those as well?

NOT

The plan for your registered money looks great. How about we do the same with your non-registered money?

ASK

Would you find it easier to have a consolidated report of all your assets so you can see how you’re doing overall?

NOT

I’d like to base my recommendations on the big picture of your assets. Don’t you feel it’s a good idea to consolidate with me?

Three tips when asking clients to consolidate

  1. Pick the right time. If you have spent a whole review saying “diversify,” asking them to consolidate sends a confusing message. Wait for when you’re focusing on the big picture. If they ask, “Do I have enough to retire?” or “Will I be paying a lot of tax this year?” explain you can’t answer that question without all the information at hand.
  2. Make the process sound easy. Explain you’ll do all the work. Send your client a checklist of what you’ll need with your transfer documents; for example, a copy of your latest statement and a void cheque to start a new monthly PAC. Make sure the client understands you’ll pick up their transfer fees.
  3. List the benefits that matter to them. These include peace of mind, the simplicity of dealing with only one advisor (and only having to go to one office), having all tax slips and statements come from one place, and not having to make on-the-spot decisions.

Let’s say a client has GICs at several banks. When each matures, she will have to decide whether to renew it. By having all the GICs consolidated in one account, you can plan what to do when maturities occur.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge