Having Real Goals-Based Conversations

Published by Craig Wietz, President
June 19th, 2016

Here at First Rate, we believe in providing the best tools possible to help wealth advisors make the move to become Wealth Stewards. To do that, we’ve used our 25 years of experience in this field to develop our CORE solution. CORE enables wealth management firms to manage their data integration and reporting needs in an automated way that allows wealth managers to provide custom designed, client focused reporting that will foster engagement and create long-term relationships.

To complete the transformation to wealth stewardship, managers need to approach their clients reporting needs—indeed, all client interactions—from the client’s point of view. That means conversations should focus on the client’s needs and the client’s goals.

Traditional Reporting

It’s an easy habit to get into. As consumers, we’re all aware of the financial markets, and their ups and downs on a daily basis. It’s easy to get in the habit of reporting results to clients based on market indices, because we think it’s what the client understands the best.

When wealth managers are prospecting for clients, reporting general returns against market benchmarks—or even against other peers in the market—is useful because it’s the manager who is auditioning for the job of managing that client’s portfolio. Reports based on market benchmarks are focused on demonstrating the wealth manager’s ability to compete with peers and produce general positive results. And at the beginning of the process, that’s important.

However, once the client is onboard, meetings that report on periodic results from the perspective of market benchmarks are not really what the client wants to hear anymore. Once the client has decided to engage your firm, they’re more interested in how you intend to meet their individual goals, and your reporting should reflect that for the best long-term results.

Turning the Corner to Goals-Based Reporting

Once the “audition” process is over and you have a new client, one of the first meetings is about the client’s goals for his or her investing activity. Knowing the specific goals and motivations for investing is critical to a long lasting relationship. Wealth stewards take the time to understand the client’s goals, whatever they may be, and take the position of a trusted team member engaged in meeting those goals.

One of the ways to do that is to focus all reporting on client goals and minimizing reporting against market benchmarks. In reporting meetings, wealth advisors should call out specific goals, and report the period’s results against those goals as the most important aspect of the meeting. Doing so develops trust in the client relationship.

For example, based on client goals, that client meeting could easily include a conversation such as this:

“This quarter we gained 2.6 percent toward the goal of investing in new real estate. We’re now 70 percent of the way to that goal and our investment choices are appropriate to let us meet that goal within the next five years. Let’s talk about our other goal of securing a sufficient retirement account.”

This is a good example of a goals-based conversation where the client’s goals are the paramount focus, and reporting against market indices is not part of that conversation.

Once the conversation is focused on goals, deeper conversations can occur and adjustments to goals can be made. For example, if the portfolio is performing above its established performance metrics, a conversation could take place about taking some of the portfolio risk off the table in order to insulate against adverse market events. That’s a good conversation to have, and it’s easy to have when the relationship is client-focused.

Likewise, if the portfolio is behind its milestone marks, further conversations could include discussing the option of increased contributions from the client. While that’s a more difficult conversation to have than the prior example, it’s easier when the relationship between steward and client is well established and there’s a track record of trust and engagement around client goals.

CORE: The Best Tools to Enable Client Engagement

First Rate CORE is a holistic web-based console designed specifically to meet the complex reporting demands of your individual clients. It features a full suite of seamless wealth management applications that automate the repetitive activities involved in financial reporting that can limit productivity and hinder your ability to add new clients.

CORE allows wealth stewards to collect data autonomously, and design custom reports that are client specific and goal-centric. At First Rate, we believe that when you tell your story using a combination of superior digital tools like our goal based reporting application through the CORE solution, and excellent one-on-one attention, clients are more engaged, and long-term relationships thrive.

 

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About the Author: Craig Wietz, President of First Rate, has been an integral part of the company since 1995. In this role, he oversees all the business lines, the functions that develop and maintain client relationships, as well as strategic planning and the groups responsible for internal operations. Prior to his current role, Wietz was responsible for the Service Bureau business line and has contributed strategic insights in statement processing, third party data aggregation, model portfolios and benchmark services for First Rate. Connect with Craig via LinkedIn.

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