How one questionnaire can qualify your ideal client

When I first started out in Financial Planning, I would assume that the clients would provide the necessary information such as assets, liabilities, budget and job information at the first meeting or after the meeting – depending on whether the client had that information available.

I quickly learned two things:

  1. Clients don’t know what to bring to the first meeting with a Financial Planner. I must be the one to provide guidance as to what to bring and what to expect and,
  2. By not having all the necessary client information before the first meeting, it resulted in several weeks of waiting and chasing the client for the information. This not only prolonged the overall financial advice, but also the client experience as the longer my financial advice took, the more likely the client will lose sight of the reasons why they came to see me in the first place - not the mention how the extra weeks of waiting may impact the bottom line of my business.

If you’re like me, you are probably frustrated with how long each stage of a financial plan takes. So, how can we eliminate this waiting process?

Our Advice Starter Package contains a set of questions that outline the client’s current financial and lifestyle situation. This may be sent out prior to the initial meeting, and if like myself, you implement this step as part of your advice process, the client is required to fill this out and send it back prior to the initial meeting, otherwise it will result in a rescheduled meeting. I believe that Financial Planners are equally qualified to those of equal professions, and therefore, we should hold ourselves to those standards. For example, an accountant or lawyer require clients to fill out paperwork before they are able to evaluate their circumstances. I, like my fellow professionals, will not see a client unless they have filled out the paperwork required prior to the initial meeting.

Ninety percent of my clients completed the questionnaire prior to the initial meeting, however, ten percent of clients will not want to complete the questionnaire. With the ten percent that were not willing to fill out any paperwork, I simply either rescheduled the meeting for two weeks’ time or I cancelled the engagement altogether.

A little bit cut throat…?

Well think of it this way, you need to be just as picky of which clients you take on as well as which clients you say no to. Your client book should be filled with healthy, low risk clients – particularly in our current financial planning climate.

By rescheduling to another time when paperwork is completed, this shows the client that your service is not transactional, but a holistic service where you wish to build an ongoing relationship. It may be a different way of operating, however it may be an effective way to collect information for your fact find prior to even starting, as well as dissuade time wasters. A simple questionnaire can save time for the fact find as well as help you find the ideal clients who will work with you – this is the best outcome any financial adviser could have, a client that works with you and provides the information in a timely manner.

Download our Advice Starter Package today and start creating your own!

Scott Miller