Are Client Reviews Failing Clients?

Imagine you were in the back seat of the car as your clients were driving home from a review meeting. What do you think you would hear (other than “why is our financial advisor sitting in the back seat of the car”)?

Would your clients sound energized and inspired?  Dazed and confused?  Or, would they already have forgotten about the meeting and be discussing what’s for dinner that night.  Note: the last one is the worst option.

A recent ‘Pinkcast’ from Dan Pink got me thinking about this issue.  You can link to the 90-second video here and it’s worth a listen.

In the video, Pink and his guest Bob Sutton, Professor of Management at Stanford University share some research from Rob Cross (University of Virginia).  Cross proved a connection between the response to a single question and the likelihood a person would be promoted and to a range of other positive outcomes.  The question is this.

After you talk to this individual, do you have more or less energy?


The parallels to our industry are clear.  If we layer in some additional research, we can see the connection between an enjoyable and energizing client review and good things like satisfaction and loyalty. But there’s more – we can also encourage more referrals.

So, instead of spending so much time worrying about whether we are meeting with clients often enough, we may want to spend more time thinking about what happens when they do meet.

What Clients Say About Review Meetings

Based on the investor research that we’ve conducted, here’s what we know to be true.

  1. When clients enjoy their review meetings, good things happen.

There is a correlation between the extent to which clients enjoy meeting you and the extent to which they refer. Fifty-three percent of clients ‘strongly agree’ that they enjoy review meetings; that increases to 75 percent for those who are Promoters (likely to refer) and 82 percent for those who are both very satisfied and have actually referred.

Here’s an important distinction.  The number is 59 percent for those clients who are ‘very satisfied’ which means that the connection between enjoying the meeting and referring is stronger than enjoying the meeting and just feeling satisfied with the relationship.

Enjoy Reviews

Sidenote: The older the client the more likely he or she is to enjoy the review process.  Clients who are 65 years or older are nearly 60% more likely to rate the level of enjoyment as a 5 out of 5 than those under 45 years of age.  Are they naturally more interested at the review or are we simply not making reviews relevant for younger clients?  Discuss.

2. Enjoyment and engagement are different

Sixty-two percent percent of clients say they are fully engaged in the review process, a higher percentage than say they enjoy the process.  So, it’s possible to be engaged in a process but not fully enjoy it.  This makes sense.  When I’m in the dentist chair I’m fairly engaged in the process but that doesn’t mean I like it.


Engage in reviews

3. If one spouse is energized and engaged, don’t assume the same for the other.

While 62 percent of clients describe themselves as highly engaged in the review process, only 41 percent of those same individuals describe their spouse/partner as highly engaged.  We can proclaim as loudly as we like that we actively engage both sides of the couple, however clients recognize this doesn’t always happen.

spouse engaged


Your Client Review Action Plan

There is no doubt that the quality of the client review is as important as the quantity.  In fact, when it comes to frequency of contact, clients generally feel their advisor is over-performing rather than falling short.

So what can we do to insert some energy into those meetings?  Short of singing show tunes and offering a foot massage during the process, we can make some changes.

  1. Focus on the future. People are generally more inspired by looking forward than looking back. I tackled this in a recent post on the impact of inspiring your clients.  Yes, you need to spend some time reviewing what has happened but I talk to many advisors who tell me the majority of the meeting is spent looking in the rear-view mirror, rather than looking to the future.
  2. Change the name of the process. Some advisors are ditching the term ‘review meeting’ and for good reason.  It’s about as energizing as watching the proverbial paint dry.  If you have any great ideas on this why don’t you share them in the comments below?
  3. Give clients some (fulfilling) homework. Ask your clients to plan for something on their bucket list, like a major trip, to discuss at the next review.  If they can identify the goal, you can spend time focusing on how and when they can make it happen as part of the plan.  I’d rather spend time on an annual ‘bucket list update’ than an annual financial review (see #2).
  4. Get clients involved. Actively involve clients in crafting the agenda. There is evidence that a co-created review meeting is considerably more engaging.  You can read more on that here.

It’s funny how we can get so focused on meeting one objective (like frequency of contact) that we can forget the obvious.  Without an intentional plan to make our reviews energizing, increasing the frequency may simply be making a bad situation worse.

Thanks for stopping by,


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2 Responses to Are Client Reviews Failing Clients?

  1. richard April 5, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    Why not just change it to:-

    Annual Planning Meeting

  2. Susan Dawson June 9, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

    How about Progress Meeting

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