This column gives you an inside look at an advisor’s scheduling process, and provides tips on how to better manage your practice.
Erik Brandt, CFA, CIM
Stonegate Private Counsel, a division of CI Private Counsel, in Toronto.
Client type: Wealthy clients and families. Most have between $2 million and $4 million, and families typically have several accounts.
Client communication: Brandt speaks with clients regularly via phone and email. Also, he and his team send regular investment updates (he works with managing director Gina Scola and two assistants).
Secrets to success: Revisit your marketing and prospecting plans every year, says Brandt. He and his team meet off-site each Q1 to create an annual plan. They typically gather at resorts, he says, to avoid distractions. They discuss items such as proposed marketing and travel budgets, as well as growth strategies, target market and client events. They also review their industry connections list.
Meetings are booked two to three weeks in advance, says Brandt. “Meetings booked too far in advance tend to be rescheduled.”
Still, he and his team try to book each client’s appointments at the same time each quarter year-over-year.
For example, one client may like to meet in the second week of January each year for his Q1 meeting. The team won’t officially book that appointment until a few weeks before, but they take note of the client’s preference. They also know where people like to meet (e.g. office versus a restaurant).
Once booked, they send confirmations and meeting outlines to clients a few days in advance.
At each weekly team meeting, Brandt and his colleagues will pull client files and go through a standard review process for all upcoming appointments. This involves examining current market performance, and the short- and long-term performance of clients’ portfolios. Based on those factors, they decide what they need to discuss with clients and create lists of investment suggestions.
They also revisit notes from the last time they met the client. If he had any questions or concerns, Brandt and Scola follow up during this year’s meeting. Clients often mention new needs or life changes during phone calls throughout the year, notes Brandt, so they address those as well.
When it comes to compliance, each team member has to understand the importance of complete KYC documents and investment policy questionnaires, says Brandt.
Since November 2013, he’s been able to sell insurance, which has added more paperwork to the team’s process. It takes about four weeks to complete insurance sales, especially when selling a high-value, whole-life policy that has to go through complete underwriting.
That involves collecting people’s information and working with insurers. Then, underwriters assess clients’ histories and develop proposals for clients. And, aside from extra compliance requirements, Brandt gets weekly updates on all outstanding cases.
If Stonegate grows the insurance part of its business, says Brandt, they may need to hire one more team member. For now, they have an internal insurance specialist who assists with research and sales.
What if: A client loses his job?
A client was recently let go and wasn’t sure how to go through his HR package. “Gina was at his house the next day,” says Brandt, adding she offered portfolio and cash management tips, as well as emotional support.
Prior to the home visit, the entire team met to discuss the situation and outstanding work at the office. In emergency situations, Brandt offers to take over any booked client meetings, while the team’s two assistants take on urgent paperwork.
When needed, Brandt and Scola may work 11:00am to 8:00pm, for instance, or discuss clients on weekends. If Scola’s out of the office for extended periods, she’ll work remotely and regularly check her phone.