Each week, we look at the ABCs of cash flow management.
R is for Review
You’d never skip an annual review of your clients’ investments and goals. The same practice should apply when you offer cash flow management services.
It’s important to go over clients’ cash flow plans each year since you may need to adjust their goals as their lives change. This will also help you accurately record people’s debt repayment and saving progress.
In my experience, the advisors who aren’t seeing results are often the ones who aren’t evaluating people’s progress each year. You’d think that running another annual review meeting would be time-consuming, but that’s not the case. If clients are on track, cash flow plan discussions can take as little as 15 minutes and you can build them into regular annual review meetings.
It will help if you check in with clients regularly throughout the year; you’ll then be aware of their progress and challenges before annual meetings, and you’ll be able to prepare suggested next steps. Also request that people bring documents such as account statements to reviews, and end all meetings by pre-booking follow-up appointments.
To be able to efficiently review cash flow plans, follow these three steps:
- Set goals from the start. The only way you’ll know if a client is on track is if you can measure her progress against goals you made at the beginning of the year. In initial meetings, show her a projection of where she could be financially in 12 months. Then, when you meet a year later, revisit that projection. It’s all right if she doesn’t meet her goal since you can switch to discussing how close she came to meeting that goal, as well as whether you can improve her cash flow plan.
- Allow for flaws. Before you even get to the annual review process, you need to tell your client you don’t expect her to be perfect. Each year, your goal should be to measure her progress and to help her deal with unexpected challenges. So, tell her to focus on what she can control during the first year, and to consult you when there’s a problem. Read: 3 ways to help confused clients
- Identify problems. It’s easy to say a cash flow plan didn’t work when your client’s missed her debt repayment goal or, even worse, when she owes more money than she did a year ago. But there’s more to monitoring her cash flow than recording what she owes. So, before coming to conclusions about her spending habits, find out whether she spent more throughout the year or whether she had to cover extra expenses. Emergencies are unpredictable and can skew cash flow plan results. Read: The ABCs of cash flow planning: N is for Navigate
If you don’t plan to have a review process in place, there’s no point in helping clients manage their cash flows. In initial discussions, let clients know you’ll evaluate their progress annually and that you’ll be there to support them when needed.
Continue on to letter S.