Maintain strong client relationships through periodic financial reviews

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You know the feeling: You drew up a solid proposal, made a compelling pitch, answered all their questions, and finally got the paperwork signed with a brand new client. Congratulations!

You have every reason to feel happy - and so do they. So far, everything is going perfectly. Hopefully all of your hopes, dreams, and financial projections will come true. But now the real work begins.

Over time, markets will go up, and they will go down. There will be surprises, whether it’s inflation, interest rates, recessions, even wars. There could be changes in anything from job prospects and health status to family structure and tax laws. There might even be a hiccup or two with that paperwork you just signed.

The true test of a client relationship will be how well you keep each other informed throughout this journey. That means using periodic financial reviews to create ongoing dialogue.

Ideally, this will give you a good sense of what’s happening with your clients, and the opportunity to build their financial literacy so they can understand not just the numbers on their account statements, but what those numbers mean in terms of reaching their goals.

Here are three strategies to help you do this:

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1. Anchor to goals, not returns

On the surface, a higher rate of return seems better than a lower rate of return. But what if that higher rate of return comes with a degree of volatility that keeps the client up at night? And what if, in order to reach their retirement goal, they don’t actually need the highest possible rate of return? And where does the pursuit of returns end? Because there will always be someone who got an even higher return than you.

In our view, the optimal investment performance keeps you on track to your goals without exposing you to unnecessary risk. When you sit down with your clients to discuss investment monitoring, the conversation should be about how well they are tracking towards their goals, not a theoretical debate about returns.

If the market has recently dipped, you can contextualize it as a normal short-term fluctuation and not a threat to their long-term goals. If they are truly falling behind, the answer might be to look at ways to increase their savings rate. And if they are ahead of plan, they might consider taking some risk off the table or even moving their goal date sooner.

2. Listen before you speak

Delivering great advice is largely about listening. After all, you can’t know what a client’s goals are, how much risk they are comfortable taking, or how they feel about their investments without asking them and listening carefully to how they respond.

If you notice signs of negative emotion, you can probe further. Are they worried about something? Do they have questions you haven’t answered? Is there a problem you don’t know about? Is there something you can do to help?

Listening and demonstrating empathy is a major trust builder. Use client conversations to understand where they are coming from so you can better tailor your advice and solutions.

By listening well, you can have meaningful conversations about their fears and desires, identify how their investment strategy is addressing those issues, and empower them to take ownership of their financial decisions.

3. Focus on what you can control

You can develop a financial plan. You can implement professional portfolio management. You can adjust the plan and the portfolio as circumstances dictate.

You cannot control the economy or the markets. You cannot predict short-term investment performance and you cannot foresee every external factor that could throw a wrench into your plans.

A big part of financial literacy is teaching your clients the difference. By focusing on the things in our control like disciplined saving, professional money management, diversification across various asset classes and investment styles, and periodic portfolio rebalancing, we can manage and mitigate the things that are beyond our control.

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Using periodic financial reviews in your practice

You’ve probably heard it said that communication is the foundation of a successful relationship. Those who foster open and honest communication can usually work things out - even when something goes wrong. Here are a few tips to make it practical:

Use client segmenting to determine frequency.

Consider how often you should be in touch with each client. For example, you might plan annual reviews for the bottom tier of your book, semi-annual reviews for those in the middle, and quarterly reviews for your your top clients.

Tailor the format to the client.

Some clients will appreciate seeing you in person. If they’re older or live further away, they might prefer that you come to them instead of the other way around. Others will prefer a video conference or phone call. Younger clients might be okay with a check-in by email or text, but beware that this will limit your ability to have a deep conversation.

Use an agenda.

Let the client know that the purpose of the review is to check in on how things are going in their life, how they feel about their financial plan, review recent market activity and investment performance, see how they are progressing towards their goals, and discuss any new recommendations, if applicable.

Agree on next steps.

Never let the meeting end without agreeing on what will happen next, whether that means altering their current financial plan, expanding the scope of your work together, or simply setting the next meeting date.


Periodic investment reviews are a great way to stay in the loop with your clients so that you can collaborate happily for many years to come. And when you need investment solutions that can respond to your clients’ evolving needs, Beneva will be here to help.