Conveying professionalism to your clients

July 11, 2017 |

We work and live in the era of the client experience.  For financial advisors, their top two measurements of success are wealth protection/growth and client satisfaction.  When it comes to client service, each interaction you have with your boss (because that’s who your clients really are) matters and matters a lot.  With each interaction, you are either conveying professionalism to your clients – or not.

Have you ever stopped to consider what message you are sending to your clients when it comes to your billing practices?

Fees and billing are one of the most sensitive touch points within the advisor-client interaction.  When your clients receive their statement of fees, direct debit notice, or invoice there is a moment of truth when the value of your services gets assessed – whether that be subconsciously or consciously.  If there is a time in a given month or quarter when investors weigh the value of your financial advice it is when they receive the information on the fees that you are charging – whether that be in advance of services rendered or in arrears.

Here are five things that we highly encourage you to consider when it is time to bill your clients:

  1. How timely are you billing for your services? If you are billing too late it is an indication that your back-office operations are not iron clad.  Evidence of back-office operational weakness tends to lead clients to believe that you might not have your act together – which could lead them to begin questioning your future performance of their portfolios.
  2. How accurate are your statements or invoices? Many investors have questioned the credibility and professionalism of their financial advisor based on a simple billing snafu. Many are forgiving when such an occurrence happens the first time, but a recurrence happens and the doubts will surface and they may be open to “just listening” to another financial advisor’s sales pitch.
  3. How visually appealing are your statements or invoices? When it comes to the aesthetic appeal of your statement of fees or invoices, you have an opportunity to impress your clients.  The client service experience is a holistic one.  Don’t let the presentation of your fees take away from that holistic experience of professionalism and polish.   Make sure the presentation of fees reflects the passion you have for the value you create for your clients.
  4. How flexible are the billing capabilities of your portfolio management platform? You should realize that your financial advisory practice is only as nimble as the technology solutions you use. Don’t get stuck without the ability to offer new products or services because your current billing capabilities are rigid and fixed and force you to jump through hoops to produce and deliver professional results.  No one likes to create manual fees and statements, even when they are one-off situations – this will slow you down and increase the probability of billing mistakes.
  5. What fee disclosure regulations are applicable to your practice? With the recent buzz coming from the Department of Labor, it is apparent that regardless of whether the Trump Administration rolls back some of the fiduciary regs or not, the reality is that fee disclosure is best practice for the financial services industry.  Professionally presenting your clients with the details of their monthly or quarterly fees is a must.  When you present them with their fees, you want that presentation to reflect how good you are and how valuable your advice really is.

If any of these questions have caused you to pause and say to yourself, “Yep, there is definitely room to improve my billing operations.” Then I invite you to check-out what BillFin has to offer.  BillFin is the leading hosted billing solution designed specifically for financial advisors.  With over 200 advisors signing-up within the past year and a half, you deserve to at least “kick the tires” and sign-up for a free trial.  You’ll like what you’ll see – like you, we are driven by the client experience!