Financial advisors can benefit from automation in just about every aspect of their practice. Even so, less than half of financial advisory firms are taking advantage of the software that’s out there. The slow adoption of tech in the financial services sector is largely thought to be the result of old, difficult to upgrade technology and concerns that new software is difficult to implement and potentially not as useful as it sounds in the sales pitch.
However, even the simplest solutions (that don’t require expensive system overhauls) can help your practice save time and minimize human error, improving the quality of your service and giving you more time to spend with your clients.
Let’s take a look at the scheduling process for an example of how relatively simple software solutions can make a huge impact on a financial advisor’s service.
When I was in the field, the team members in our practice would regularly call up clients to schedule their next review. The process often involved leaving a message and waiting for a call back. In the meantime, the team member who called might be in a meeting or out to lunch when that call back finally comes — putting the client and our practice in a game of phone tag until we finally reached each other.
When we did get a client on the phone, we’d each have to search through our respective calendars to figure out a time that was free for both parties. Overall, it was a time-consuming process and I couldn’t help but feel like that was time wasted that could have been better spent on other areas of our practice.
One solution to this time-consuming process is to simply pre-book your review at the end of each meeting with a client. This way, you can get the next meeting on the books while they’re right there and you don’t have to chase each other down via phone later.
It works. But it’s not a perfect solution. In some cases, you’re talking about a meeting that’s going to happen six months in the future. That’s a lot of time for a client’s plans to change or appointments to be forgotten—so there’s a good chance you’ll end up needing to reschedule a lot of your pre-booked meetings.
Even worse, something could come up for you. What if you’re making travel plans or find out your kid has a big, important game on that day? You’re now in a position where you have to call your client to reschedule that pre-booked meeting.
You can save yourself that hassle and the risk of needing to reschedule pre-booked meetings by simply incorporating scheduling software into your practice. Calendly is a popular example of a simple scheduling tool but there are a few options out there.
Something like Calendly allows you to sync your work calendar to the software and set the hours of your availability (so that meetings can’t be scheduled on, say, nights or weekends when you don’t work).
Then, you simply send a link to a version of that calendar that only shows free times that they can book for a meeting. They can then choose whichever one of your available times that’s most convenient for them. Once they book a time through the software, it syncs that you’re your calendar and blocks that time slot out so that other clients with the link can’t double book for the same slot.
While it may seem “impersonal” in a business that’s all about relationship building, scheduling is really not the area of your service that needs a personal touch. In fact, the frustration of trying to get in touch with each other to coordinate a meeting time is annoying for clients, too. For most, the convenience of just being able to pick a convenient time on your calendar and book it with a few mouse clicks will be far preferable to that game of phone tag. Think of the client experience.
When you make the routine parts of your business (like scheduling) convenient and simple, you have more time to focus your relationship building efforts on the meetings themselves and on the level of service you provide.
While automation is a great way to reduce time waste in your advisory practice and offer a more convenient service to clients, keep in mind that not every client is equally comfortable using technology. If you work with a lot of retired senior clients, for example, you might find that they prefer doing things the old way.
Be sure to tailor the service to your client’s preferences. Don’t presume that older clients won’t want or know how to use a tool like Calendly—or that younger clients will prefer it. Instead, offer a variety of options for scheduling at the end of your meeting with the client and see which one they prefer. Make a note of their preference so that, when the time comes, you know which clients to send a link to, which clients to call, and which clients to pre-book with in person.