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Balancing Your Jobs to Build Stronger Relationships

Advisors offering ongoing financial planning deliver both functional jobs (like performing analysis and creating the plan) and emotional jobs (like helping clients prioritize their goals). Historically, these jobs have been managed by centering them around regularly scheduled meetings. But what happens if the client doesn’t show up or isn’t engaged in the meeting?

On this episode of Elementality, Reese and Chad discuss how working on functional jobs outside of scheduled meetings allows you to focus on what might be causing the client financial stress when you do meet. Find out how you can enhance scheduled engagements by looking for emotional connections. When you start working on functional jobs away from the emotional jobs, that’s when you start building better client relationships.

 


Podcast Transcript

Reese Harper:
Historically, it was the meetings that drove whether a topic was covered. But if someone didn’t show up for a meeting, now I’m toast.

Chad Jardine:
You just let everything slide until the next meeting.

Reese Harper:
And then you’re like, [crosstalk 00:00:15] and that’s what ends up happening, right?

Jordan Haines:
Welcome to Elementality. I’m Jordan Haines, financial planning specialist at Elements. In this episode of Elementality, Reese and Chad talk about the emotional and the functional jobs a financial advisor engages in, and how it’s important to separately identify those jobs and accomplish them in a way that will ultimately build a strong relationship with clients. As you listen, consider how you can schedule functional jobs outside of your regular occurring meetings with clients and what impact that will have on the effectiveness of those meetings and on your client’s perception of the work you do for them. Enjoy the episode.

Reese Harper:
Welcome to another episode of Elementality everybody. Like to welcome Chad, the dad and tad in the studio, making sure that we dial in the content and bring the questions each week. Chad, what did you discover in advisor land this week that may be of interest to our listeners?

Chad Jardine:
All right. I think you’re going to like this one. So, and this, is one of those things that probably in hindsight seems so basic and fundamental that you wouldn’t think that it was actually an essential topic, but it’s one that we’ve seen in a recurring way. And that is how do I determine what the topics are that I need to come back to and reinforce with my client. So as I’m having my interactions with clients, how do I select the most valuable things that I know will be valuable to the client to talk about?

Reese Harper:
Man, I remember when I first started building my topic calendar for what I was going to talk to clients about, it was a big Excel spreadsheet. I probably had like a hundred topics of career planning, career mobility, teaching kids about money, kind of some stuff that I don’t really cover today, but it was like a big list. And I remember like going down through it and having a really hard time cutting things out, right, of that. Cause I’m like, oh, well that comes up. Well, that comes up. Well, that comes up and this comes up, how am I ever going to get it down? And when you meet with somebody, I was like, how many topics can you cover in a meeting, right? Because I had a meeting schedule, four meetings a year, or three meetings a year, some cases only an annual meeting with smaller clients. So I was like…

Chad Jardine:
It’s making more sense to me now, why this keeps coming up with … [crosstalk 00:02:40]

Reese Harper:
Other advisors. I’m trying to take you back 15 years ago. But I looked at my a hundred topics and I’m like, how do I cram them all into these meetings? Because these are all important. And if I don’t cover them, who’s going to cover them? And this was a long evolution. But over time I realized that there’s a difference between a minimum viable, like essential set of things I almost have to cover, and then some like awesome, nice to haves in depth I’m going to take it deeper with a client kind of conversations. And I started breaking apart the nice to haves from the essentials. I said, okay, can I go a year without talking? I started with just saying, what would I have to cover in a year? If I’m going to say, I’m your financial advisor,

Chad Jardine:
Each year you must hit on these. Got it.

Reese Harper:
I got a client for a year, could I go a whole year without talking about this? And kids college planning? Yeah, I could go a whole year without talking about that. Do I even have to talk about it? Like every two years? No. Like it, you start seeing things that could wait. If they came up, they come up. Right? I would look at things like life insurance. Can I let a whole calendar year go by without talking about life insurance? It’s close. I don’t know, what is if their policy lapses in a year? What if they have one year left in their policy?

Chad Jardine:
Yeah. It was maybe not a safe one to rule out.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. That one wasn’t a safe one. Saving money, how much have you saved? Do I have to go, can I go a whole year without ever bringing up the concept of how much money did you save last year? No, at least, that’s got to come up. So anyway, go through my list and still ended up with 40 things, I have to cover. I was like, well, I don’t have that many interactions. So can I group these things together? What kind of groupings could I, if I have to talk about savings and I got to talk about taxes, I’ve got debt. I have probably need to talk about debt as it relates to four or five different things like business might come into that conversation and maybe real estate mortgages come in. I created a set of groupings for myself that worked for me.

Reese Harper:
And eventually those became the Elements. The Elements became the things I just couldn’t let a whole year go by without talking about.

Chad Jardine:
Yeah, it makes sense.

Reese Harper:
And a calendar that I could follow, because if, some things have to be talked about at certain times during the year, take retirement accounts. If you’ve got a business owner clientele that is making retirement plan contributions, you can’t really adjust those things at the end of the year because there’s deadlines like October 1st and there’s qualified plan like 401k profit sharing, defined benefit plan rules, that require you to make decisions well in advance of the end of the year. So if your business is growing or changing or making adjustments, you’re going to have to address qualified plan stuff in the middle of the year or the beginning of the year, but not at the end of the year, because there won’t be enough time to get everything done, especially across your whole clientele.

Reese Harper:
So I picked June for that because then I could have enough time to look at all my clients that month and then start the process with TPAs to get adjustments made to the qualified plans before the October 1st deadline and make sure that every year that was passing, it was at least looking at every client’s qualified plan. Whether it’s an IRA or whether it’s a 401k or a DB plan, I’m looking at every client situation saying, do I need to make a change? Yes or no. Let’s tell them about it. Let’s move on and did the same thing with every topic. And each topic got placed at a certain place during the calendar, during the year. What are your questions on that? I just threw a lot at you and maybe combined like one question into four, but I tend to do that with my talking.

Chad Jardine:
Well, as kind of a newbie to the space, [crosstalk 00:06:54] I’m coming up to speed quick, but I’m still pretty new.

Reese Harper:
You’re the vet. That’s why we call you Chad, the dad. You’re ancient of days in terms of business experience, coaching us all up in the way. So what are you hearing from this?

Chad Jardine:
Yes, young Padawan.

Reese Harper:
This is your time. This is your show now.

Chad Jardine:
So as I’m hearing you talk about your experience, right? You have this big list of topics and you kind of narrowed down the things that are, this strikes me, it’s like long-term debt versus short-term debt. Right? Short term debts, anything less than a year. So, that’s good. This is kind of the same frame. Hey, less than a year, I’ve got to hit all these topics. So now you’ve got this kind of organized, you’ve got them kind of laid out in a calendar so that you’re hitting things timely throughout the year.

Reese Harper:
Otherwise it’s a mess because you’re just randomly like bouncing around, you know?

Chad Jardine:
So you’ve gone from maybe random to organized. What I’m curious about is how do you go from there to saying, okay. And some of that organization, as I’m even asking this question is automatically in place. Like for instance, it probably doesn’t make sense to be harping about tax returns in February and March. They don’t, people wait until April to file them or quarterlies, however they’re set up. But how do you then take those topics and match up, like now you have real living, breathing clients in all of their wondrous variety. And how do you decide what is the appropriate topic to address with them in any one interaction?

Jordan Haines:
Do you ever wonder if you do enough for your clients to be worth what they’re paying you for? Do you feel like you’re delivering enough value? I mean, the advisors wrestle with questions like these. I’ve used the Elements financial planning system for a couple of years now. With it, I can deliver periodic insight about a client’s financial health and progress by utilizing standardized measurements. They know I’m watching their progress and can actually see how my advice is improving their life. With the Elements financial planning system. You can also give your clients consistent planning, guidance, and the valuable advice they expect. Check it out at, getelements.com/meet.

Reese Harper:
First of all, another problem. I’m going to talk about the pain of this. One more thing that came to mind as you were talking is historically it was the meetings that drove whether a topic was covered.

Chad Jardine:
And if somebody had a regular cadence of meetings,

Reese Harper:
But if someone didn’t show up for a meeting, now I’m toast.

Chad Jardine:
Yeah. I wouldn’t just let everything slide until the next meeting.

Reese Harper:
And that’s what ends up happening, right? Because you’re just like, the client doesn’t know that there’s an actual thing that’s important for you to cover and they don’t perceive it as that important if you’re not actually telling them. Like with Elements, you’re actually telling them what it is that you’re got to cover. So they kind of are like, well, if we don’t cover spending, then we are we’re negligent, right? Because I’ve boiled it down to these like things where you’re like, you can’t responsibly not talk about your personal budget once a year. You need to do that. And I’m your system allows you to do that. So they’re willing to have the dialogue a little bit more if they know that’s what I’m going to talk about. But if it’s just a meeting, “meeting,” it’s like, we need to meet to talk.

Reese Harper:
Then they’re going to go, well, we got baseball and kids lessons and yada, yada it’s like, what do we meet in for? I don’t feel like there’s any financial pain do you? We good? Yeah. Let’s just tell Reese we’re busy. We don’t need to meet right now. And so now because meetings were driving the calendar of topics, I’m taking the responsibility of wanting to cover everything, but if they don’t show up now they’re just behind.

Reese Harper:
So you have some clients that are like way on top of their finances, because they never miss a meeting. They’re committed meeting people. Then you have people that are, they don’t, unless they know, they’re so busy and they’re so spread thin in their lives that if they don’t know why they’re meeting with you, they’re not going to like meet. He’s just like all the other meeting guys and wants us to meet and then we don’t have any really doing anything. We don’t need to talk right now. We’re good. And so you end up having client, they don’t tell you that, but that’s why the meetings can kind of be inconsistent. People will show up when they have pain, but not when they don’t and then it’s too late.

Chad Jardine:
Cause all the other meeting guys, it’s like if people feel like that, it’s just about the meeting. There’s no motivation behind the content of what you’re covering, that entirely makes sense to me as you’re describing that. So, that’s really another way of describing the problem, right? How do you go from being one of the meeting guys to being somewhere the client actually has motivation because they understand the value of what’s happening. Or they’ve been primed to what needs to be covered.

Reese Harper:
That’s the first thing they’re thinking when you say, I want a meeting, they’re thinking why?

Chad Jardine:
Yeah. Other than like, okay, here’s another hour of my life I’m not getting back.

Reese Harper:
But if you’re saying, so I think in the meetings, if a meeting happens, if, and it should, and I hope that your clients come in to meet. But when it does, I like using those as opportunities for deepening relationships, doing the emotional jobs of financial planning of just asking questions and listening, be a good listener. That’s when you build the relationship, just let them talk for an hour. You shouldn’t be talking.

Reese Harper:
But the challenge is, if you’re not doing your functional jobs outside of that meeting, you’re toast. Because you don’t have any of the data you need, you’re not getting anything done. So meetings ended up being kind of painful usually cause the advisors wanting to get a lot done, collect data, fill out the plan, get things updated. And the clients kind of like, I don’t know, does this matter? Like why does this matter again? Like, I’m just, it’s painful. I want to talk about some questions I have. Like, I want to, I want to explain what’s on our mind too. And I like meetings to be just listening opportunities. Cause it always feels good to people if they get to talk and listen and be heard and understood, and that relationship gets to be deepened.

Chad Jardine:
Well, is there anything particular that you you’re listening for?

Reese Harper:
Yes, you’re listening for the financial anxiety that they feel and how you can adjust their financial circumstances to reduce and relieve the anxiety they feel. So they feel more supported living in their present best life and just enjoying their life. And you’re trying to make their life better and listen for what it is that’s causing them to feel any financial pressure. It might be, they don’t feel like they’re making enough money, might feel like they really want that cabin. And that’s a big dream and they just don’t feel like they could ever afford it. Or it might be that they’re really feeling like they just never have any money left over to be able to like vacation and enjoy their life. Or they’re just not satisfied with their work or they’re not satisfied with the value of their business. They’ve put too much years in and they just don’t feel like they’re going to get enough out, whatever it is that the financial anxiety is that they’re feeling underneath. You’re trying to discover that and then figure out how you can creatively, help them solve that problem.

Reese Harper:
But ideally beneath the surface, there’s always this system happening where they’re actually keeping up on their financial data so that you’re able to find the solution creatively with good information backing it, instead of using the meetings as a place where that occurs. And so, I knew every year that I needed to have a savings plan, I needed to talk about spending, I needed to look at interest rates and debts, I needed to look at someone’s tax return and review it, make sure that it was not only filed properly, but contained all the deductions it should have and that they were reporting their interest expense, found a loan once from a client he like almost $200,000 in interest expense in an LLC that wasn’t even on the tax return for like four years.

Reese Harper:
And I’m just like, you’re missing your CPA is not even collecting your amortization schedule, man. You’re getting hammered, and poor guy was doing his tax returns by hand with pencil and paper and that kind of stuff still happens, you know? And so you have all of these, such little things, that you need to catch, but clients love it if you’re doing that work. And if they see you doing the work outside of the meetings and you’re using the meetings to be like find the financial anxiety that they feel, if any, and then creatively give them a solution that feels customized rather than it’s the time to fill out your profile again and run the projection and let’s make sure you’re on track. You know?

Chad Jardine:
Like, is there ever a time when you have something essential that’s related to their functional life that you need to cover in that meeting?

Reese Harper:
Yeah, all the time, you know? And, but it doesn’t usually take as much time because I’m already know kind of what I’m on top of where they’re at [crosstalk 00:15:37] and then, you can kind of cover that if there is time after you dedicate the first part of the meeting to listening, and hearing, and exploring, then you can handle some of your issues that are on your agenda. And if there isn’t time, then you ping them with it in an email afterwards, they’re always feeling prioritized during that interaction. I like that better. That’s how it functions best for me. Your original question of like, how do you decide what to cover? You know, we really haven’t hit that exactly. But I think Elements is kind of the best version I have. If anyone was ever interested, they can go to getelements.com and look at the topics on the calendar. And see, I think that this general principle is heading in the right direction.

Chad Jardine:
That’s awesome. Thank you.

Jordan Haines:
Next time on Elementality.

Dr. Travis Parry:
You’re pretty productive. You can do 30, 40 hours of work and be making more than what you did when you were working 65 hours. That’s excellent productivity, but it only works if you are wanting to spend time to do leisure events, hobbies, time with your family, that you love those other aspects of your life. So, that’s what you need to do. You need to set goals in those other areas and love it and then make it happen. And what it’ll do is it’ll cushion the other areas and really pad, so that work doesn’t overflow and you’ll respect your work time so that your personal stuff doesn’t overflow into your work. It’s when those boundaries are so loose, that you really are diluting the quality of time that you spend in either.

Jordan Haines:
You can learn more about the Elements financial planning system at getelements.com/meet and schedule a time to meet with me or one of our friendly financial planning experts Elementality’s executive creators are Reese Harper and Chad Jardine. Elementality is produced by Abby Morton and directed by Jordan Haines.

 

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