How to part with a client.
We can talk about great efficient processes until we are blue in the face. However, the most important process that growing firms need is the client off-boarding process.
Growing firms have burnt out owners, slowed growth, and they lack capacity for improvements and new clients. And when we define client segments, revenue, and services, we discover that many clients are dragging the business into a servicing black hole. And yet, firms avoid creating a more automated investment management/trading or planning platform, adding a robo-advisor feature to their servicing options, or create an exit strategy for clients that just don’t fit the firm anymore.
When I was 24 years old, I worked at Smith Barney in Boston MA. I knew no one, ate cereal for dinner, drove a Ford Escort, and lived with 2 roommates to pursue my dream of being a Certified Financial Planner. By age 26, I had $22 million under fee-based management. The trick was:
I knew that too many clients would stop me from helping others that really needed and wanted help.
I also knew I would feel “bad” not servicing the wrong-fit clients and thus, I would waste energy thinking about them or reaching out.
It takes mental courage to start drafting a client off-boarding process and script. You need to start with ideas such as sending these clients to hourly planners (planning), a custodian’s retail branch (investment management), or the carrier’s home office (insurance product servicing). Or you can consider robo-advisor tech or automation of servicing processes to increase staff capacity. All these ideas rely on your skills to develop new business to fill the gap with better fit clients.
Remember to take breaks, revisit this process weekly, and soon enough you will become comfortable with your off boarding process and naturally practice the verbal words you will say to those clients.
Just remember – quality is always better than quantity. And enjoy the same freedom my advisory firms realize: off-boarded clients appreciate honesty and your sincere effort to connect them with the right-fit servicer and your business and staff will reward you for the effort.
Good luck and Carpe Diem!