The Top Five Mistakes Advisors Make in Surge Meetings
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Too many advisors jump into surge poorly prepared to deliver massive value to their clients. Here are five common mistakes and how to avoid them.
The financial industry abounds with misdirected roads to success. Too many advisors get suckered into believing that buying snazzy brochures will draw prospective clients to your firm. Or maybe you’ve heard that advertising with a specific marketing firm will send a million clicks to your website or that having the perfect seminar packet will draw crowds, and prospects will flock to the office, begging you to take them on as clients.
Seductive as they may be, these schemes fail to deliver as promised because finding success isn’t as convoluted as you’ve been told. Sure, it’s difficult, but you’ll reach it if you keep hold of a few core ideas.
One of the core tenets of success is time blocking – a universally accepted way to boost your productivity. There are dozens of ways to implement time blocking in your practice, the most valuable of which is following “surge,” where you set aside regular blocks of times for client meetings.
Surge allows you to time block client meetings throughout your entire year enabling you to deliver massive value to your clients.
Here are the top five mistakes made by advisors who failed to deliver massive value to their clients through surge meetings.
1. You have to see x number of clients a week
Many advisors look at how I run my surge cycles and jump into it with five or even eight back-to-back meetings for weeks. Each surge meeting is a performance; my partner, Micah Shilanski, and I have spent several years building our stamina and endurance to be “on” for 20 (or, in Micah’s case, 40) client meetings weekly.
For many advisors, this is like jumping into the deep end before they’ve learned to swim, and these eager advisors are way over their heads by the end of their first or second day – and completely burned out by the end of their first week.
Surge isn’t a competition to see who can have the most daily meetings. If it were, your primary care physician has you beat. Doctors typically see patients every 15 minutes every day, all year round.
To implement surge successfully, hit the brakes and build up to it. You’re robbing your clients of the value they’d receive through surge by taking on more than you can handle.
2. You can only meet with clients twice a year
I have two big surge cycles in the spring and fall every year. During these cycles, I can meet with about 95% of my client base.
But if a client meets with me in April and has a life-changing event in May, I won’t make them wait until October to see me. I will fit them into one of my monthly “mini-surges” to ensure they are taken care of promptly.
Surge is valuable because it allows me to meet with the majority of my client base in a specified time to deliver them the most value. It also frees my time between surges so that I can be more available to clients in an emergency.
3. Surge only works if you have cookie-cutter clients
This is a trap and not entirely related to surge. Advisors who think they can’t streamline their processes – even for complex clients – are making life more complicated than necessary.
Not all my clients have simple financial needs. I have clients with complex money problems. For example, I’ve been working with a client who has a significant, multi-million-dollar business transaction pending.
My service to them requires special considerations, and they must meet with me outside of my big surge cycles. Because I have monthly mini-surges, I have the open space in my calendar to help them and the time to focus on these exceptional cases.
Surge isn’t about having clients with identical needs but about streamlining 80% to 90% of your services. Everyone needs help with these five areas: estate planning, risk management, retirement income, investments, and taxes.
Sure, you may have some tricky estate and beneficiary situations or special considerations for taxes, but you can easily streamline these areas for all your clients. Complexity doesn't improve your score when delivering value to your clients.
4. Do surge so you can have more vacations
Advisors get stuck when transitioning to surge because they fail to position it correctly to clients. You’re not doing Surge because you feel like it or to spend more time on exotic beaches.
You’re implementing surge to deliver more value to your clients by tracking where each household is in your process of success. Don’t believe me?
Look at your client book and pick one at random.
When did you last review Dave’s estate documents or check Sally’s beneficiary designations? For advisors who aren’t surging, it’s probably been a few months or years since you checked in on these things.
Because of surge, my clients’ financial plans are rebuilt every two years. Everyone in my entire book of business is on the same step simultaneously. No one is overlooked or gets left behind.
5. I can’t do surge because I have two-hour meetings
Unless your meetings are more than two hours long, you can still surge. You’ll just see fewer clients in a day. Instead of seeing six clients, you’ll see three.
Surge aside, there is no scenario where your meetings should be over an hour long. Advisors in my coaching program send in recorded videos for me to critique. In every single long meeting I’ve viewed, more information isn’t being shared, and more time spent in a meeting doesn’t make it more valuable.
I’ve noticed clients starting to disconnect, nod off, or glaze over after the 60-minute mark. Respect your client’s time – and their attention span – and start cutting back on your meetings. Practice your bit until you can cut out the fluff and present your meeting in an hour.
Want to try surge in your practice? Here’s how you can get started:
1. Decide which days you don’t want client meetings – reserve Mondays for prep work and Fridays as a day off.
2. Decide what times you don’t want client meetings – no meetings after 4 pm.
3. After you’ve blocked out Mondays and Fridays, block out one week each month when you won’t schedule clients.
4. Have these times governed by Calendly or Acuity.
Matthew Jarvis, CFP®, ChFC, is the co-founder of The Perfect RIA, one of the finance profession’s most recognized advisor training platforms. Just 10 years prior, Jarvis was buried in debt, with a badly struggling practice and a morning routine of trying to figure out how to quit the industry without looking like a failure. Through several turns of fate, Jarvis clawed from near failure to the top of the industry. Today, alongside running his incredibly profitable and successful practice, Jarvis guides other advisors on duplicating his success in their practice.