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10 tips for conducting an effective annual review: A client perspective

Annual reviews offer much more than a chance to tick an important compliance box. It may be one of the longest interactions some clients have with their adviser all year, so it can be a golden opportunity.

Irrespective of age or circumstances, there are simple steps to make the annual review a really valuable experience for all. For this writer, alongside building trust, annual reviews are an important retention exercise.

My partner and I have been with our financial adviser for four years. The last time we spoke to them was 12 months ago…at our last annual review. Fast forward a year and the world is a different place.

Working in the industry, I am aware that saving, investing and retirement planning is a long-term game, however, I admit to being concerned about the uncertainty and volatility thrown up by COVID-19. Not hearing from my adviser has been disappointing.

With this context in mind, I was looking forward to the annual review. Unfortunately, I wasn’t satisfied with how it went.

While I know there are certain things that need to be covered off for compliance/regulatory purposes, I feel my adviser could have put effort into planning and executing the meeting.

Here is a client perspective of how advisers may be able to improve the experience.

10 annual review tips

  1. There can be a lot to cover in an annual review. In the interests of time, get in touch with the client beforehand and ask if there are any specific questions or areas they would like to address.
  2. Provide an agenda and snapshot of insurances, investment portfolio, super etc prior to the meeting to ensure you cover everything and keep the conversation on track.
  3. Be prepared. If it has been a while since you’ve spoken to a client, do your homework – review their financial plan, and write down a list of questions or areas to follow up. (On that note be prepared for someone to ask…why haven’t I heard from you?)
  4. Don’t expect your client to remember, or have a detailed understanding of all their financial undertakings. Go through everything.
  5. Please take your time and don’t skim over areas you feel are self-explanatory. If you suspect your client doesn’t understand what you are saying ask them. Don’t use acronyms, abbreviations or try to wow with technical know-how.
  6. Clearly outline your fee model and what’s included.
  7. Following the annual review, send a feedback form for your client to complete asking what went well and what could be improved.
  8. It would be super impressive if a summary of key action points or a video containing likewise turned up within the following 48 hours.
  9. This is an important retention exercise. Even if both parties really like each other, please don’t presume a client’s business will be retained (particularly when minimum effort has gone into the relationship).
  10. Most importantly, please interact with your clients regularly – don’t wait until the annual review! In lieu of regular contact, pulling out the bells and whistles at the annual review may come across as insincere.

Advisers can set themselves apart by providing a well-structured, informative – dare I say enjoyable - annual review experience for clients. Over to you.

The writer is an employee of ClearView Wealth Limited. Her adviser is neither an employee at ClearView nor an authorised representative of ClearView. Her adviser is also not aligned to ClearView.

Note: The comments and tips provided reflect the personal views and experience of a person who recently had an annual review with their adviser and therefore may not reflect the service experience provided by advisers reading this article. It does not represent the official policy or position of ClearView or any other entity and it does not take into account specific regulatory requirements. The information in this article should not be considered professional advice. Neither ClearView nor the author is responsible or liable for any reliance on the information in this article.

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