When preparing for a client meeting, whether it’s your introduction to that client or an annual review for someone who’s worked with you for twenty years, the steps are likely the same. You’ve got all of your statements and reports together, you’ve identified the goals of the meeting, and you’ve put together an agenda. You can confidently walk into that room and bang out all those planned items in an hour, right? 

Two hours later, and you’re still working through it all.

Management during a meeting is another skill that is essential to any financial professional. Making sure that a meeting is successful and satisfying, with all questions answered and actionable items ready to be put into motion, is not as simple as just reading what’s on a page. In the next couple months’ blog entries, let’s break down two steps that will maximize your management during meetings- an effective agenda and time management. 

This time we’ll look at that first step– properly crafting an agenda. Starting from identifying the meeting’s purpose, you can build the agenda in a way that supports that goal. Ultimately, you’ll want to steer conversations toward the items in question, and even more ideally, toward the decisions that the clients will need to make about those items. The agenda functions as a sort of checklist to make sure that all topics are covered—sharing it with the client also lets them know what’s on the financial menu for the day and lets them prepare to answer the questions you’ll pose to them as the conversation winds on. 

The level of detail on the agenda is up to you, however, remember the client’s perspective. An overcrowded agenda may be intimidating for someone who isn’t as knowledgeable about financial matters, while a bare bones agenda may be unsatisfying for a client who likes to have it all on paper. Regardless, you’ll want to make sure the agenda is a tidy document that is legible (typed, not handwritten please) and easy to follow. Creating a template that you can adapt to different meetings is ideal, with space for additional notes during the meeting. 

Another way to make your agenda the most effective is to be prepared for the meeting several days in advance, at least to the extent that the agenda is made and can be sent to the client ahead of time. This serves several purposes. One, it can allow for the financial professional to set the client some assignments before the meeting, such as gathering statements or legal documents. Secondly, it lets the client know what to expect so they can prepare thoughts and questions, while also allowing them to send immediate feedback for items that they’d like to include. This will save you from surprise topics a client may spring on you during the meeting, letting you both be better prepared (which isn’t to say you might not still be surprised by something!). 

When creating the agenda, consider design elements that may work well for your communication style. Different types of topics may need to be treated differently. Obviously, not every agenda item is meant to start a discussion, and that’s fine too. Establish for yourself and the client the purpose for each topic. Some may be to share information, some may be to gather feedback, and some may require a decision. Letting the client know what is expected from them on each topic lets them feel involved in every step of the meeting as more than just an observer.

Mandy Szewczuk

More about the author: Mandy Szewczuk

Mandy works with advisors as the lead of Evolution Financial Advisor’s virtual assistant program and is part of the marketing and events team.