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Not Sending a Meeting Agenda Is Costing Your Financial Advisory Practice

Date: February 2, 2022

Creating and sending an agenda to clients ahead of meetings is one of the best ways to set expectations, keep the meeting on track, and make sure both you and your client show up fully prepared. However, many financial advisors who want to make meeting agendas often give up on the idea because it seems to take up too much time. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

With a better organizational system, constructing a meeting agenda out of your meeting notes can take just seconds—and the value it adds to your practice is more than worth taking the time to restructure your organizational system to make this possible. Here are three ways skipping the meeting agenda is hurting your practice, followed by five tips for developing a system for quickly and efficiently creating meeting agendas:

3 Ways Skipping the Meeting Agenda Is Costing Your Practice

While it might feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to prepare a meeting agenda and send it out to clients ahead of time, skipping this step costs your practice a lot in terms of lost value and wasted time. Here are three of the biggest costs of not making and sending a meeting agenda:

1. Missed Opportunity to Improve Client Perception

Financial advisors can sometimes take for granted that a client will walk into a meeting with the same expectations that the advisor has. This isn’t usually the case, though. Many of the clients I have worked with express sincere gratitude after I sent an agenda because they don’t always know what will be brought up. Is it good news or bad? Is there something the client needs to bring? 

Clients also said that getting that agenda helped them digest and prepare as well. It gave them a chance to remember any questions they wanted to ask or bring up any topics that they wanted to get your input on. 

The meeting agenda puts a client’s mind at ease, and everybody has the same set of expectations for the meeting. By clearly stating those expectations in advance, clients come into the meeting with a concrete idea of what this meeting should accomplish so they can plainly recognize when you have accomplished it. 

More importantly, it demonstrates that:

  1. you are an organized, well-prepared financial advisor.
  2. you listen to your clients and include agenda items based on previous meetings and conversations you had with them.
  3. you care about your clients and are committed to making this advisor-client relationship as productive and beneficial as possible. 

While skipping it won’t make you seem like a terrible financial advisor, making that effort is what will often make the difference between a referrable and not referable financial advisor.

2. Time Wasted on Avoidable Follow-Ups

Without an agenda, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. You might forget to discuss a topic that you were supposed to discuss. Your client might forget to bring the documents they needed to bring. 

When things slip through the cracks during the meeting, it falls on you and your team to follow-up on them afterward. You’ll have to look into the missed topic and send a follow up email. You’ll have to make a note to send a reminder email to request those missing documents later. You’ll have to take time fielding questions from clients after the meeting because they forgot to bring it up during. 

All of this work (and time) could be avoided by just putting together a meeting agenda ahead of time, so everybody knows what to bring and what topics to prepare for. Now, you’re freeing up more time to deliver this same level of organized, prepared service to more clients. 

3. Missed Opportunity to Better Tailor Your Services

By sending that agenda out ahead of time, you’re also inviting your client to make any changes or provide any updates. Recent changes to their financial situation or goals are helpful to know about ahead of the meeting so you can avoid spending time on a topic that might no longer be relevant. 

Even if there are no major changes, clients will appreciate the opportunity to add their own input. If there’s a topic they want to discuss that you haven’t included, they can tell you in advance so you can adapt accordingly and let the client know what, if any, documentation they should bring with them.

This creates a much more personalized and tailored experience for each client as they are actively engaged in setting the agenda and consistently feel like you’re listening to their concerns.

5 Tips for Creating a Meeting Agenda Quickly

The main reasons financial advisors skip the meeting agenda despite the enormous value they add are the following:

  • Sifting through meeting notes to put together an agenda takes too much time.
  • They feel they can just rely on their own memory of what they should talk about in the upcoming meeting.
  • They have back-to-back meetings and little time in between to take thorough notes or do better prep work.
  • Creating an agenda seems like far more time and work than they’re really worth.

In reality, these are all interconnected. If a financial advisor thinks they can just rely on memory for every meeting, they’re less likely to have a cohesive, detailed note taking system in place. If they don’t have a cohesive, detailed note taking system, then sifting through vague, disorganized meeting notes will certainly take a lot more time than they have to spare in a day packed with meetings. If it takes that much time to make an agenda, you might just have no choice but to skip it. 

Here are a few tips to break that cycle:

  1. Realize that because of a phenomenon known as the Forgetting Curve, relying on memory alone can lead to a lot of things falling through the cracks.
  2. Develop a consistent, easy-to-repeat notetaking method that will make it easier to take good notes during meetings. Include a way to highlight or mark items that are tabled for a future meeting, that require follow up, or that you otherwise know you’ll need to discuss in the next meeting.
  3. Keep those notes organized on your computer using your own organization system or a meeting note software like Pulse360.
  4. When it’s time to prepare an agenda, search through your notes to find the items you already marked or highlighted for discussion in your next meeting. Put all of these together in a meeting agenda template. You can make your own template, find one online, or use Pulse360’s customizable templates.
  5. Email that agenda to your client a week to two weeks prior to the meeting. 

Once you have a system in place that’s easy to maintain even with your busy schedule, you’ll quickly get into a rhythm that will make this whole process easy. By the time you’re ready to send out an agenda, it won’t take more than a few seconds or minutes to compile everything and get it emailed out. 

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