One of the most challenging service items that financial professionals deal with may be trying to get existing clients to come in for financial planning meetings. Whether this is a brand-new client or an annual review, getting someone to commit to a time and date can be an ongoing issue. Of course, clients have busy personal and professional lives of their own, but any advisor knows that the good stuff happens when they can finally sit down together and plan rather than just letting clients have a few accounts and feel comfortable relying on those. 

So why is it so hard to get clients to get serious about the future? Because that future doesn’t seem as interesting or pressing as the financial professional knows it is. And unfortunately, most advisors’ marketing doesn’t do much to make financial planning seem any less boring, unattainable, or overwhelming for clients. It’s no wonder they think they’ll put it off just a little bit longer.

Words and language are everything in marketing, so it’s vital to get yourself into your clients’ mindset before you start reaching out. Clients may not be looking at things holistically—the future seems far away and the concerns of the now definitely supersede whatever might happen in 40 years. Pull away from the abstract and work with solid plans that will motivate your clients to meet with you and seriously plan their futures. Try these steps to make this plan a reality.

Step 1: Get Them to Make an Appointment. Is that the hardest part for you? Consider the things that would get you to sit down and talk, if you were in their shoes. Review the clients’ specific circumstances, concerns, and interests, and go from there. Perhaps you can reach out to let them know you can help them plan for their twins’ college education, without having to give up their annual big camping trip. Perhaps you know your client is looking to buy a home, so you reach out that you can help her set a goal to be a first-time home buyer in five years. Vacations, home renovations, ageing-in-place plans—there are many concrete goals that clients have that may not fall under the usual umbrella ‘plan for your retirement’ heading that many financial advisors use to promote their services and try to get clients into their offices.

Step 2: Use Now to Get to Later. Once you’ve got them in the appointment, working with you on a plan for the exciting goals they want to hit in the next five years, it’s time to get to the rest of the future. While engaged and talking, it will be easier to get clients to shift from the near future to long-term needs. Consider it for yourself, if you were a client. You’ve got a new deck and backyard landscaping project to look forward to because of the financial plan your advisor just worked you through, and then the advisor presents you with working numbers for a retirement that will also stay in line with the lifestyle you want. Of course you’ll be more likely to keep the conversation going! At this point, clients will also be more apt to share their concerns for the future, whether it’s worries about estate planning or the fact that they want to go on a European cruise for a year post-retirement. Make sure that you’ve structured your agenda, proposals, and questionnaires to facilitate conversation in a smooth, organic way that allows time for you to not only present, but to truly listen to what your clients have to say.

Step 3: Get Them Back on the Calendar. You’ve got your clients in your office, the meeting goes great, you shake hands before they head out…and then they avoid your meeting requests for the next two years, losing you what momentum you’ve gained. How do you get around that? Get that next meeting onto the calendar right away. Ideally, you don’t want them to leave your office without having set the date for their next review. Present it as doing it to help them to get ahead of their obviously busy schedules. You’ve provided the plan; emphasize that follow-up check-ins are what make it work in the long run. Rather than leaving the ball in their court, craft your plan so that you remain a key player. Ultimately, this will work out better for both of you. They’ll be more in control and educated concerning their financial futures, and you’ll be able to provide timely, consistent guidance. Making regular reviews a habit for your clients will strengthen your relationships, your brand, and ultimately, your entire business model.

At the end of the day, you don’t want your clients to see you as just another to-do for them to check off the list. You’re the one helping to make their best lives happen. Financial advice doesn’t seem exciting, but you can make your clients excited to talk to you.

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.