From  Bob Veres' Inside Information Newsletter V32, N1 JAN 2022

Synopsis: Instead of writing all your client communications from scratch, try using Pulse360’s template system.

Takeaways: Every message you send to clients can become a template that can be customized in future correspondences. Batch processes your meeting preparation and automatically triggers workflows in your CRM.

In my 2020 Fee Survey, I found that, based on their responses, advisors were spending an average of three hours of staff time on each of their typical annual/quarterly client meetings. That could be roughly broken down into one hour of preparation (including creating the agenda and asking clients for information and feedback on other things they might want to discuss), the actual one-hour meeting, and then an hour of follow-up activities (which includes writing up meeting notes, delegating various tasks to team members in the office and composing the summary to be sent to the client).

Early in his planning career, Anand Sheth, founder of the Pulse360 software, discovered the hard way why these pre- and post-meeting tasks were taking so much staff time. “In 2012, I was working late on my anniversary night,” he says. “I had to skip dinner with my wife because I needed to write up follow-up summaries for several client meetings. My wife,” he adds, “was not exactly happy.”

At the time, Sheth was supporting a senior advisor who was primarily managing the client relationships. After he presented his summary follow-up messages to the advisor, the advisor spend more than an hour rewriting them. “I recognized, at that moment, that each advisor is going to have an individualized way of saying things, of using language, of communicating with their clients,” he says. “I was a senior person, I was very experienced, I knew what needed to be said,” he adds. “I just wasn’t writing the summaries in the same way that the advisor would have.” 

Pulse360 is designed to fit into a blank space in     the advisor softwareEcosystem: documentation and communications software.

Hoping to streamline the process (and possibly avoid more conflict with his wife), Sheth came up with a proposal. “I said to the advisor, I’m going to take your words, put them in note templates, and when I do the summaries, I’m going to copy and paste and customize the templates with your words into the emails,” he says. “And then I coded, in Excel, a version of that template library, and that was the beginning of Pulse.”

Filling the gap:

Sheth believes that there has been a missing software category in the advisor’s toolbox. You have the CRM, and planning software, investment management programs and various document management programs. The missing link is what he calls the documentation and communication software, which might also be called simply client communication tools that streamline the process of organizing and simplifying repetitive client messaging. “Somehow, our industry has skipped that part of the software,” he says. “It’s not in the CRM or the planning software, the capability to collect template messages that you would use over and over again.”

Pulse360 is designed to fit into that blank space in the advisor software ecosystem. “Our ultimate goal is to give the advisor some of their valuable time back,” says Sheth, “so they are not having to recreate a new message every time they want to communicate the same thing they’ve sent out many times before.” He estimates that a power user of his software can shave off at least half of the preparation and follow-up time for client meetings, turning a three hour process into two hours, and making room for senior advisors to spend more of their time on marketing, client service and staff mentoring.

The time savings estimate is predicated on the idea that 80% of client messages are advisors writing similar things to different clients. “How many different ways can you tell a client that they should do a Roth conversion?”Sheth asks. “How many different ways can you tell a client thatyou’re proposing to invest them in a model with an aggressive growth tilt, because that is more likely to meet their goals than the other models?”

If your answer is that these messages are actually going to be pretty similar—that, in fact, almost all of the wording is going to be the same, but with different particulars dropped in that customize them for individual clients—hen you’ve made a great use case for an automated template library.

Pulse 360 software actually comes with 70 note templates built-in, which can function as sample agendas for client meetings and bullet-pointed follow-up messages that advisors can customize. It also integrates with Redtail and Salesforce, to automatically create tasks (for clients and advisors) and workflows built out of these tasks.

Organized messages:

Pulse360’s interface for streamlining client messaging comes with an intuitive interface whose features can be accessed in a number of ways. Typically, an advisor would call up a screen with a tab to select what category of message, he or she wants to use. One of them might be investment recommendations. Another might be meeting notes. There’s an ‘opportunity’ tab for all of an advisor’s prospect messages, which calls up all of the prospects that have contacted the firm, and all the messages they’ve received, and the other message templates the firm can send out in a sequence. A task tab would interface with the CRM, which allows an advisor to assign tasks and trigger workflows that are built into the CRM software.

To see the history of these messages, the advisor can scan a list of ‘contacts’—clients and prospects, and see every message that each has received through Pulse360, individually organized as (advisors can create their own categories) meeting notes and summaries, tax messages, financial planning messages etc. “Let’s say I have a client meeting coming up,” Sheth proposes, “and I want to see everything that I have tagged for the next meeting. Eight notes come up,” he says. “Some advisors have created a tax impact tag,” he adds, “so whenever they plan to recommend something that will have a tax impact, or have recommended something, they put this tag on it. At the end of the year, they can summarize everything they have done for that client in that area, and also send that to the CPA as summary data.”

Mass agenda production:

But what about reducing that time spent preparing a client agenda? The advisor can go into the note template library, and pull up a template agenda that has all the different things that might be discussed in a client meeting. Not all of those will be relevant to the client whose meeting is coming up, so the advisor would click to exclude different bullet points, like the request for the client’s most recent tax return or, since this client is under age 72, the bullet point that mentions this year’s RMDs from the client’s IRA accounts. Any customized agenda items can be dropped into the template, and it becomes a client message that can be saved as a PDF file and sent out as an email. Each template agenda serves double duty as a checklist for the things that the advisor wants to remember to at least consider covering in each client meeting.

Pulse360 will also allow the advisor to view all of the clients who are scheduled for meetings in the next 15 days, and also, on the same screen, the past 15 days of meetings, with listed dates.

One column shows whether the agendas for future meetings have been created (this task is often delegated to the staff) and whether the agendas have been sent to clients. It also shows, for the most recently completed client meetings, whether the summary notes have been input and follow-up messages have been sent out.

Advisors who are doing surge client meetings can pull up template agendas for 20 clients, customize them on the fly and automatically generate preparation workflows--all at once.

Sheth says that this upcoming-and-followup dashboard is popular with a growing number of advisors who are shifting to surge meetings—bunching all their client meetings one after another during a few weeks a year. “I can select all the client meetings that are coming in the future, apply what we call a collection,” he explains. “Here is a template client review agenda. It has the items that I always want to address with these clients. I can literally go and say: add all, and it will add 18 notes to six clients.

I can now jump into them and customize what I need to customize for each one,” he adds, “and with a click it is going to trigger off six workflows in my CRM. If I want, I can keep selecting clients, and add 25 notes to all clients, and then go in individually and delete whatever doesn’t apply to that client.” Call it mass-production of client agendas.

Despite the fact that the program comes with a pretty large template library, Sheth says that most Pulse360 users will be significantly modifying or creating their own templates—because, as he learned early-on, every advisor has their own style of communication. But the process flows from the communications that an advisor would normally be sending out; you create a meeting agenda in your own words, send it to the client and also save it as a template. You send a followup explanation to a client detailing your reasons for recommending a Roth conversion, and save that as a template. The next time they want to send a similar message or create a client agenda, you pull up the saved message as a template—and avoid reinventing the wheel.

And, since every template and note is editable, each time you re-use the saved template, you can improve the wording or add in new agenda items. The messaging evolves, becoming clearer andmore efficient over time.

“The point is that this relieves advisors from sitting in front of a blank canvas every time, writing similar things that they’ve written in the past,” says Sheth. “You can literally hand this task off to a junior staff person, and tell them to prepare it for your review.”

Pulse 360 also creates an organized record of every message sent to each client, which can be viewed by the date it was sent, by the client, or both. This makes it easy to add those customized agenda items, while you’re looking through the followup message from the last meeting, or see at a glance what you’ve recommended to each client.

This feature also makes it easier to demonstrate your value to clients. “Let’s say I’ve done all of my followups in Pulse360,” Sheth proposes. “I can now, at the end of the year, pull up summary, and in less than 20 seconds I can send it out to the client and say, Dear Tom and Mary, thanks for your trust. As the year has gone by, this is a summary of the work we’ve done for you. This is next to impossible today for advisors to do without spending hours upon hours doing this,” Sheth adds.

Some advisors are storing their clients’ goals in the messaging tags, which accomplish a few additional service conveniences. Sheth says that some Pulse 360 users are sending messages around this time of year, saying: Happy new year! Just wanted to let you know that this year we are working and focusing on these things for you. You wanted to go to Alaska, and take another cruise, you want to buy another home, you want to fund Nathan’s education, we are aware of your goals and that’s what we’re working toward this year and onwards.”

Other advisors have created “achieved” tags for client bucket list items, so they can pull up every client milestone that has been achieved, and send out milestone congratulations and summaries to clients.

Multiple roles, multiple templates:

Maggie Beach, of NexJenn Financial Services in Naperville, IL, has created what some might describe as a complicated business life. After years of providing financial planning services to a CPA firm’s tax clients, she inherited the tax practice to go along with her planning business. And she also owns a property management company, which is convenient because her niche is clients who have real estate investments and need reliable management of the properties. “I provide holistic services,” she says: “the tax piece, the financial planning piece, and the property management piece.”

The challenge, of course, is that there is always a flurry of messages to send out during tax season, which involves gathering data and then, upon completion, sending back the returns with various instructions. She sends out updates on the properties she manages—and this is in addition to the routine pre- and post-meeting communications with her planning clients.

“When I inherited the tax business, I realized that I needed better organization,” Beach says. “I had to find a way to track all the messages that I was communicating to various parties through the three companies.”

Beach found Pulse360 as she was navigating the early stages of the Covid pandemic. “I actually contacted Anand,” she says, “and we worked together to come up with templates, checklists and templated letters that I use in Pulse360. It allowed me to pull up one of the templates, drop in information and send it off to my clients, and I would have a record of it.”

It says that the organization of messages has been as important, to her, as the time saved in message composition. “The program puts everything in chronological order,” she says. “It gave me organization about how I was progressing through my workflows, and where I was with each client. You can see what you’ve done, what communications have gone back and forth with each client or COI, and since everything is digital, during tax season, I don’t send out tax returns via paper. I’m able to drop links to secure portals into these templates and, by customizing the fields, I can tell them what their refunds are, or their tax due, and personalize each message without writing them from scratch. It’s saved me hours of time,” she adds. “I’ve been able to streamline my tax season and make everything consistent.”

The consistency feature was surprisingly important when Beach was communicating while wearing different hats. “After every planning meeting, I pull up a template, pop in the summary, and send it off,” says Beach. “And every message has the same look as all of my other correspondence, so for my client,s each message felt like the same experience between tax and financial planning.”

Beach says that Pulse360's organization of client messages has been as important to heras the time saved in message composition.

What do the templates look like? “The one I use most,” says Beach, “is after the tax return is prepared for the client. It says: Dear client, your tax return has been completed, you owe such and such, and there is a field in the template where I can fill in that amount, or what the refund was,” she adds. “And then, if they owe, I can drop in a link to a voucher. The next line would be: click here for your signature documents, and I drop in a direct link to their signature documents. And third part would be: here is a secure link to your tax return.”

Beach will typically add a task which tells her to follow up with the client if she hasn’t received the signed signature pages back. Scheduling client planning meetings involves a template with a link to Beach’s Calendly account. Before Pulse360, Beach says that client preparation could become chaotic. “I would look at old emails, pull up files, but it was not all in one place and it was hard to get it well-organized,” she says.

The system today makes it easier to send out summary messages, which, in turn, organizes what Beach needs to know for the next meeting. “I have a little template that I can use after each meeting,” she says. “What was discussed? What are the pain points with the clients? What are the goals that we’re going to work toward? What are my to-dos, and theirs?”

She can drop these into the template as bullet points, and they create a record that allows her to prepare for the next meeting. For compliance purposes, she can show the state regulators what she discussed with each client. “And,” says Beach “for all the client tasks, they can drop into my calendar, so I can make sure they’ve been done. Pulse 360 has completely changed the way I'm interacting with clients, and the way I keep client information.”

Workflow integration:

David Littlejohn, of Littlejohn Financial Services in Roseburg, OR, is getting an emergency lesson in creating staff efficiency. “It took me from 2010 to 2014 to get up to $7 million in AUM,” he says, recounting a business history that includes knocking on traitor park doors to sell insurance policies, running a private broker dealer for physicians and being the financial planner for various banking offices before starting his own business. “Since 2014,” he continues, “we have moved to $130 million, and we’re bringing in $2-3 million a month.”

When a younger advisor finally gets his designation, the firm will have four staff people. Leverage and efficiency went from unnecessary to urgent. Littlejohn prioritized better organization of client communications, and he logically turned to the software that houses all of his other personalized client data. “You say to yourself, shouldn’t the CRM be doing these things?” he says. “You would think it does, but it actually doesn’t.”

The CRM integration ensures that client tasks will be completed. The meeting summary to a client will trigger workflows in the CRM-- and a reminder to make sure they're addressed.

Then Littlejohn found Pulse360, which offered the organization he was looking for—and the time savings from templated messages was icing on the cake. He and his team are still in the process of building out templates, which he says happens organically; you compose a message, send it to a client and also save it as a template to be used later. “You have to change your mind when you compose these messages,” says Littlejohn. “Every message, you have to think, I want to be able to use this again, so how can I think in terminology where I can make the message not so specific that I can only say it to that client. I want to create different customizable parts of the message where I can drop in the specific things that relate to each client, and have the rest of it communicate the things I say regularly in messages like that one.

The residual benefit is ongoing,” he adds. “The longer you work with it, the better it gets.” Littlejohn’s firm has made efficient use of another feature of Pulse360: the integration with his CRM to automatically trigger workflows. “One of our workflows is preparation for the annual reviews,” he says. “We have a standardized note sheet template. If it is a very basic client, there may be a few things in the agenda, while for one of our top- tier clients, we may include more items.” Littlejohn has gotten to the point where he assign the agenda preparation process, through an integration with Redtail, to a staff member, who would know which clients tend to get which agenda items. “They send it back to me and say, did we miss anything? I say: looks good, and away we go.”

The followup is similarly streamlined. “We’ve gotten to the place where we can take meeting notes in Pulse,” he says, using a tablet. “You summarize the notes in Pulse, create a followup summary saying, here’s everything we discussed, and here are the things we need to do and you need to do—and if any of this is inaccurate or needs to be clarified, please contact us.” The add-on is for compliance purposes. “If there is ever a he-said, she-said situation,” says Littlejohn, “then we have that backup.”

The CRM integration ensures that tasks are completed. “If the meeting summary says we need to change a risk profile for a client, or move them to a different investment model, or we need to send them a cash distribution, we have tasks built into our templates that automatically push it into Redtail and start the workflows,” says Littlejohn. “Each task is associated with a person and a time frame, and one workflow can trigger a whole series of steps for that client. With Pulse360and Redtail working together,” he adds, “we don’t have nearly as much chance of human error, dropping the tasks or failing to follow through.”

The risk profile change workflow has become surprisingly common during the pandemic. “A client comes in nervous about the markets,” says Littlejohn, “and we say, okay, well, your risk tolerance number in Riskalyze is currently at 75. Do you want retake the risk quiz? They’ll say, no, just move me down to a 60. So then we’ll say, okay, that means there is a different portfolio that’s appropriate for a 60 risk tolerance; basically plus this, minus that. If they agree,” says Littlejohn, “then I’ll load in a template that says: discussed with the client reducing risk at this time, discussed moving the model portfolio from this one to that one, and it will create a note to the client saying, our team will adjust your model to your new risk tolerance.” 

That, in itself, saves time. But the message also communicates with Redtail, creating a task for one person to update the client’s Riskalyze score and and a related task for another team member to change the portfolio and execute the trades. 

“It will also alert our administrative person to follow up and make sure everything happened,” says Littlejohn, “and, once the shift has been made, to send a note to the client that the tasks were completed.” That note is also a template.

The organizational aspect of it works like a double-entry bookkeeping system.

“Client messages are associated both with the client and an event,” Littlejohn explains. “Whether it’s a phone call, a meeting, or an email, you are associating activity both with the client and the triggering event,” he adds. “When I schedule a client meeting, I can bring up the template, with all the options for the agenda. I may use four of them, click on each to build the template I want, and it populates the items for me—a checklist and workflow trigger at the same time.

“I see Pulse360,” he adds, “as an operating system for my practice.”

From an article in Horsesmouth

What’s Working Now: Looking for a shortcut to efficiency? Here’s one advisor’s way. With Pulse360, he has become more organized, automated note-taking and workflows, reduced anxiety and stress and freed up valuable brain space. Plus he’s able to delight clients by following up meetings almost immediately with a pertinent summary.

Editor’s note: In this edition of What’s Working Now, an AdvisorRADIO feature in which Horsesmouth members tell us about recent success they have had running and growing their businesses, we hear from advisor Jonathan Howard, who is a big fan of the practice management software Pulse360 because it reduced the time it takes him to do meeting notes by more than half.

There are innumerable ways to differentiate yourself to existing and future clients. Most likely, you are already doing one or two things that set you apart.

Here’s one more way.

What if you meet Joanie and Johnnie BigBux for the first time and within an hour of the meeting’s conclusion you send them a detailed and professional summary of the meeting? And what if you’re able to compile this summary in about five minutes?

Impressive? Helpful? Differentiating?

Well, this is what Jon Howard is able to do with his new practice management tool, Pulse360. Pulse360 is an all-in-one documentation system that automates and streamlines your meeting prep and follow-up. No more redundant double-work. No more Rube Goldberg-like, topsy-turvy meeting documentation workarounds that waste time, energy and your valuable brain space.

In fact, Jon reports that whereas he once dreaded the laborious meeting follow-up tasks, he now looks forward to them with anticipation and glee.

If your interest is piqued, you can listen below to Jon describing how Pulse360 has transformed his practice—he demonstrates the software live in the video. Or you can read the highlights in the following article.

From Hollywood to investment advice

Well, I’m relatively new in the business. I used to be a visual effects artist out on Hollywood, which has paid some dividends in this business in terms of being really comfortable picking up new pieces of software, figuring how they work and how they can enhance the business. And that transition happened a little over four years ago.

Quick Overview

Advisor: Jonathan Howard, CFP
Lexington, Ky.

Years in business: 5

Firm: SeaCure Advisors

What’s working now: Using Pulse360 to whip up a meeting summary and sending it to clients immediately after talking with them.

Since then I’ve gotten some licenses and my CFP designation, and I live in Lexington, Kentucky. Our business has two offices, one in Sarasota, one in Lexington, and we focus on comprehensive planning, but specifically within risk management, investment planning and retirement income.

Meeting notes before Pulse360

Listen at 02:17

Before Pulse360 came into the picture, it was just this sort of hodgepodge. And it’s actually kind of funny looking back at my oldest clients. In my meeting notes folder, I have like four or five different styles of meeting notes, going back through the years with them.

So, I’ve tried a bunch of different things, starting from just a text edit file. I use Mac computers. So people familiar with Mac or Apple will be familiar with the text edit application, just a very bare-bones, rich text editor. So just quickly jotting meeting notes down and then copying it into the CRM. The very earliest stages were just handwriting meeting notes during the meeting, scanning them after the meeting and then dropping them into the client folder.

But at some point, I became familiar with the practice of actually generating meeting recaps and sharing them with clients. I was trying for a few months to generate something that was time-efficient, generated a nice deliverable and would also have the compliance requirement of getting into the CRM and saving easily into the file system.

Prior to Pulse, my system was that I would take a meeting, and I would have my meeting notes, handwritten. If I had a meeting recording, say from Zoom, I would also generate a transcript of that, a written transcript through, which is a pretty low-cost and effective transcription service that uses the Google translate widget. Anyway, I would have all the audio file, handwritten notes, and then I’d sort of combine everything into an Evernote document, which I would save as a PDF into my file system, and then copy and paste that into my CRM.

Generally, I would have, over the course of a week, a big pile of handwritten notes and then use Friday and Saturday to get those notes into the system. And it was just always a chore, I hated it.

But we’re a pretty barebone’s office, we don’t have any in-house assistance. So the meeting notes are something I really want to make sure are correct, so I do them myself.

Enter Pulse360

I had read had about Pulse360 on the Fintech blog that Michael Kitces puts out and was really interested that someone was actually just trying to tackle meeting notes. Because it was so onerous, I hated doing them.

When I saw a demo of Pulse360 and I started using it myself and right out of the gate, it was saving me even at the very, very early stages of the software. It was saving me about 25%–30% of my time that had been spent doing meeting notes.

The software has improved as I’ve gotten more familiar with it, and time has continued to be shaved down. So now it’s taking me anywhere between 50%–75% less time to do meeting notes.

And if it’s a review where I almost without question know exactly what we’re going to be talking about, it only takes me five to 10 minutes to do, not just meeting notes, but a deliverable for the client that automatically syncs with the CRM using Pulse360.

So it’s a huge time saver and the interface of the software actually is really enjoyable. They’ve done a really nice job with the UI, so it’s actually kind of inviting and fun to use it. So meeting notes are no longer something I dread. In fact, I enjoy it.

How Pulse360 works

Tune in to the video at 07:55 to begin seeing Pulse360 demonstrated.

Now I actually keep the Pulse360 window open 100% of the time and whenever I need to make any note on a client record at all, I’m doing it in Pulse and it syncs to the CRM. One hundred percent of the notes that I ever take for a given contact record are all searchable and Pulse’s search is phenomenal. Like I can just type in a fraction of a word and it pulls up everything having to do with that word. So it’s a very, very powerful, deep search going back however far I’ve used it with a given contact.

So right now we’re looking at the Quick Notes interface. You have Quick Notes, All Notes and Event Notes. So, for example, if you had called me about an investment, if you’re a client, I could very quickly come in here, do a new note that we talked about investing in Apple and just add that for a single use. You can tag it, which I’ll get into in a little bit using some different flags here.

I could trigger a workflow, like if there was an account opening workflow. Let’s say I’m going to need to open an account based on this note, create a task, open a position in Apple for Chris and assign that to me, high priority, pretty much all of the fields that I would normally have in my CRM are all here. And I can just send that straight to the CRM from Pulse360.

Meeting notes to CRM

View at 09:09

Back to the notes, I can also add pre-filled things. So I do a bit of work with college planning. So if you were calling me up, letting me know that your child had a new score in the ACT. I could just type ACT and pull up this template. So I could say, Johnny’s ACT score has been updated and you got a perfect score. You got a 36, I’m just going to add that.

And when I close that, this note is here and it’s already been tagged with the category of college planning, it’s in my Quick Notes. And so it doesn’t happen immediately, but we could pop over to the CRM like an hour or two and this note would be in your contact record. And the same exact thing holds true with meetings.

So if we’re doing events, if we have had a meeting, I could do a meeting note, and then be able to output a deliverable. So the way that would work, same exact thing: let’s stay with college planning and say you tell me in the meeting your son is working on scholarship applications. So I type “Chris has been working on applications for private scholarships,” and that’s it. That’s the content of our meeting. So I’m just going to wander over here and make sure everything is tagged as a summary. And now I can create a document in my default document format.

I’m going to add some more notes from my library. I’ve made collections. So this is something I add for all my meeting notes. Let’s see here, add all these to contact, close this out, and now I can fill those fields. So the meeting attendees, that’s going to be me. You’re the attendee. That’s the first one down. This is a zoom meeting and then this is a Pulse360 overview.

Once again, tagging all these, and then coming over here to create a document. And I just need to refresh this with a meeting template and now all this new information is here. And so from here, I can save it as a PDF.

Engaging clients with the meeting recap

So I save this as ‘Chris Holman meeting notes, 2021, 10/11.’ Now, here we go. You end up with this really nice deliverable. So anytime I have an interaction with a client, a meeting with a client, I’ll output a meeting summary, a meeting recap, and send that off. It gets them engaged. I’ll ask them to look it over, let me know if they need me to correct or add anything, and they do. I’ve gotten a couple comments since I’ve started using the software, they wanted something changed, but it’s been a fantastic tool for client engagement.

Showcasing my attention to client

Listen at 13:10

It shows them the diligence that I’m putting into working for them. And then for me the best part is, now I have a record of all the notes that have ever taken of our engagement. So if I know that we talked about an ACT, what was that? I can search ‘ACT’ and now I’ve got all the notes I’ve ever taken dealing with the ACT. So if we had had a multiple-years-long conversation or engagement, this could be a huge time saver trying to find that one line, that one bit of information, which had the ACT score.

And then of course using the same exact system showing all notes, especially when combined with tags, like if I wanted to send a yearend tax summary, I can tag a note with just my tax tag. And then at the end of the year, be able to output a summary of all the tax planning recommendations that we’ve made and what we’ve implemented. I mean, it goes on and on and on. So you have so many opportunities to create additional deliverables for clients, as well as showing someone the value that you’ve brought to them through the engagement. So really, really, really like it very powerful.

A big time-saver

I do something called surge meetings, where I sort of condense all of my reviews meetings over two six-week windows, one in the spring and one in the fall. And right now I’m in the midst of my fall surge meetings as well as submitting financial aid applications for college planning clients. And so, normally I’d have just hours worth of meeting notes to do because of all of the meetings that I’m having right now and all the work that I’m doing, updating people’s records and so forth. But I’d say from start to finish over the course the entire week, I might be spending two hours on all that, maybe an hour and a half. So Pulse is an enormous time-saver.

Client reviews

Demonstration starts again at 15:38.

If we were in a review meeting, Pulse has this system called collections. So if I want to create a new note in collections. So I have annuity and investment reviews. Let’s say we want to add just all the investment review notes to this, immediately we have a bunch of fields to fill.

You can see there’s several notes that have been populated here. So this is going to go right in and fill the fields. We reviewed your IRA accounts. Let’s say for Q3 of 2021, that’s the first one we reviewed the beneficiary designations on Chris’s IRA, no changes needed at this time, update that. We reviewed the fees that Chris paid during Q3 of 2021. And then a nice little note there after the fee thing, then our next meeting will be in spring of 2022.

At 17:35, Jon demonstrates presets and templates that make writing meeting notes a quick procedure.

Off to the races

And so that’s why I have all these general notes. And it’s just so dang fast to just pull up the general note, you click a button, you enter in what you need to enter. You close it. It’s going to sync automatically with the CRM, you tag it as a summary, you create your document, your meeting notes and you’re off to the races. It’s so fast. So it really has been an enormous time saver. And it also got rid of this rain cloud that was over my head whenever it was time to do notes.

Notes are just not something that’s stressful anymore. It doesn’t feel like a chore. It’s like this thing I get to do instead of a thing I have to do. And this idea of having a field that you just enter in a data point and you see it populated and it pops up. It’s just so satisfying. I don’t know if it’s just the way my brain works, but I think maybe other financial service professionals probably have a similar rash they like to scratch.

Enhancing client relationships for sure

The client feedback has been…really positive. Most of the time I don’t hear anything back, but at the very minimum, I’ll often get a thank-you. And several times I will actually have clients send me an email back when I send off the recap, thank you, looks great, this is really a very impressive document, thank you, no changes. That’s like the best I’ve ever gotten, which has happened a few times—which is more times than it ever happened before! Not too many reasons to give compliments on a meeting recap!

I mean, the number one reason clients leave advisors is a lack of touches, a lack or reaching out. So it’s an organic touch. I complete a meeting recap, I send it off to them and ask for their feedback. So I’m not forcing the issue.

I’m not saying like, oh, I found this amazing article online about Roth conversions—here’s an assignment, read this over and let me know what you think! Instead it’s just like, here’s this conversation that we had, did I hear everything correctly? Let me know if not. And to me it’s been a good relationship builder. Something that I didn’t think of before and it’s sort of forced me to think about it.

Meeting notes increase client engagement

Listen at 23:53

It’s a great organizational tool. It’s not inventing some new thing. It’s taking something that already existed that a lot of people have to do already and it adds as much value to that as it possibly can. Short of just reading your mind!

I review all this stuff before the meeting starts, so it helps me prepare for meetings, it helps me demonstrate value to clients and then it actually helps me confirm with the client that I understand their situation accurately. And it’s funny because I never even appreciated how many of these aspects of a client engagement can all connect back to meeting notes. So it’s that sort of unexpected critical point of analysis where you can stop a train with your pinky finger, if you just hit it the right spot.

This is financial planning. It captures everything I do, just sort of, as far as an engagement standpoint, all in one place. And it’s supercharging the CRM. So the compliance aspect of it can’t be overlooked either.

Clients can see all I’ve done for them

Listen at 26:23

The software, I’ve been using it for about a year now, a year-plus I’d say, so I haven’t used the feature where it can give you a summary of all your engagements. I don’t have that depth with it yet. But I could tag all my summary and agenda items and I could generate a document from that at the end of the year.

So as long as something has a tag, you can generate a document. For instance, you have a ‘client to-do’ here. You could output a document, showing a client everything that they’ve done that year, showing them: “Look at all the ways you’ve helped yourself this year!” with those client to-dos.

If I wanted to have an advisor accomplishment tag, I could pull up everything with that tag over the course of the entire engagement and just send that summary out to the client once a year, showing them “Here’s all the things that we’ve done for you.”

And then something I mentioned before about the software and talking to others about it, which is a real nice change of pace is that it is so flexible. There’s so many different things you can do here. Another case in point is a handwritten note, like if I had a tablet with a stylist, I can replace a notepad with this and it actually saves it, so I can close and save this handwritten note. And even with a handwritten note, you can actually open that back up and edit it.

One of my most remarkable tools

But the bottom line is Pulse conforms to the way you want to work, not the other way around. A lot of work that we do, we’re having to learn how a software operates and then work according to how that software wants you to work. Of course, there are some rules here that you have to abide by, but once you sort of wrap your head around the broad umbrella of how Pulse works, you can get it to do anything.

You can generate financial plans with this. You could, which I do intend to do, actually, especially since if you’re working in a niche and you’re using the same thing over and over again, those micro templates are just going to save you so many hours, so many hours. So I really do think it’s one of the most remarkable tools that I use.

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