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5 Top Tips on Delivering Successful Annual Reviews

By Sian Davies Cole

Meeting with a client for their annual review arguably should be the most enjoyable part of being a Financial Planner – like meeting an old friend for a coffee that changed their life following your friendly advice a few years ago.

The client is already benefitting and paying for the firms’ ongoing service and in most cases will have taken advice from you before so it’s fulfilling to see a client closer to achieving their objectives year after year.

For Financial Planners – the meeting is the easy bit. It involves meeting clients, which is for most planners their favourite part of the job.

Now for the not so fun bit - the MiFID II disclosures and requirements. I say “not so fun” because unless you have a good process it is going to be difficult and it’s going to feel all about meeting compliance requirements which no one enjoys.

We know that platforms and providers mostly make the required cost and charges disclosures to your clients however, as you will probably know from your clients asking “what on earth do these mean?”, that they are far from clear or client-friendly.

Therefore, if you know you are doing a great job of giving the client this information in an easy to understand way at their annual review, you can be less concerned about them completely ignoring the stuff they receive from their providers.

So, back to the process.

Annual reviews will only every feel successful if a great process is set up and followed and this will also ensure that meetings and the MiFID II disclosures and requirements are met. There should be a much better alternative to putting reminders in your outlook diary or maintaining a spreadsheet but there doesn’t seem to be a major player in the back office or adviser software space providing something to solve this issue yet.

Based on my experience, I have put together my top 5 tips on delivering successful annual reviews:

1. Write down the process

Even if you already have a process, start with a blank piece of paper and really think about what might work best for you and your firm. Things have changed forever with everyone now having a home office and commuting more optional than ever before and this might affect how clients and you want to do things in the future.

2. Involve others

Before finalising the process – talk to others both in your firm and other firms. Engaging with other members of your team will have surprising consequences if you haven’t done it before. When people feel involved they will become more committed and better working relationships will happen. Have an open mind and people will surprise you.

3. Get the right people doing the right thing

You know what you enjoy and that is because you are good at it. If there are things you don’t like doing it is probably the opposite, and that doesn’t mean you can’t get good at it, but is it your bag?

If you get the right people taking ownership of the right tasks at the right time, things won’t be held up or put off as we all do if there’s something on our desk that we know we are not best suited for. You can also spend more time doing what you love and less time on those things that do not float your boat.

4. Don’t focus on performance

I’m not denying that it’s important, but this can lead to hesitation about seeing clients especially if markets are down or particularly volatile.

If you are doing real financial planning – using cash flow modelling and making recommendations based on what clients want to achieve – performance shouldn’t have too much of an impact. As a general rule, clients are not that interested in investments. Instead, they want to know what the invested money can help them achieve.

5. Have an online booking system

This can be a life-changer, as giving clients the power just to book into your diary directly saves all that going back and forward and lost emails. Anyone who hasn’t yet got involved with Microsoft Bookings or Calendly, just give it a try, you’ll never go back!

I hope this helps and above all else - the key to having a successful annual review process is having the right people doing the right tasks.

Financial Planners should be spending the majority of their time doing what they love best – talking to clients and with the right people and processes in place they can make sure that happens.

We are experienced in preparing annual financial planning review documents for Financial Planners so if you need help putting together a compliant yet client friendly document please get in contact with us. You can catch us by email or by booking in directly with us here for an online meeting.

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