In the advising world, growing your business is the goal. A lot of focus and effort are put into the prospecting process in order to win new clients. However, all the time and care you put into the acquisition can be easily undone by making mistakes during the account opening and transfer process.
Convincing a prospect to become your client is so much more than the initial presentation and agreement. It can take weeks for accounts to be opened and transfers to complete. So, how can you make sure that the honeymoon period of your new client relationship is smooth?
Tack down your details. The initial transition period for a new client can be a whirlwind. While it’s tempting to bring in new assets as quickly as possible, this is the first impression you’re going to make on a new client and accuracy is critical. Typically, there’s a lot required of the client during this time, including personal and financial information gathering and requests for signatures.
The last thing you want to do is have to go back to the clients multiple times due to preventable errors. That could plant seeds of doubt in their mind and cause you to lose the new relationship you’ve already fought to win. Here are the three most common issues I’ve come across:
1. Names: This one seems like a no brainer, but many clients do not think to provide their full legal names unless specifically asked. Nate Smith could actually be Nathan Smith Jr or Nathaniel Smith. Ask for their full legal name, including first, middle, last, prefixes, suffixes, aliases, and maiden names. If the name doesn’t match exactly with the name on the contra firm account, a transfer will get rejected. Often, the custodian will require additional paperwork for verification.
2. Spelling: Proof reading is crucial. Spelling mistakes are easy to make and miss. Depending on the mistake that’s made, it can cost you HOURS of work to correct, especially if you spelled a name wrong. Correcting a misspelled name is considered a name change and will require additional documentation and often even a notarized client signature. You don’t want a new relationship to start with an unnecessary trip to a notary because you couldn’t spell Joseph.
3. Numbers: As with spelling, transposing numbers can cause massive issues. You have account numbers, social security numbers, phone numbers, bank account numbers, street addresses; the list goes on. Numbers all look the same at 8 am before that first pot of coffee and especially after 4:30 on a Friday when you’re trying to send out that last minute transfer document to your client before he leaves for a month long vacation to an isolated forest on an island in the middle of the ocean with no cell signal. Don’t even get me started on the impact an extra 0 can have on a wire or ACH transfer amount.
These initial interactions are what set client expectations. Your clients may not remember when everything goes smoothly, but you can bet they will when something goes wrong. Regardless of who made the error, whether it be you, your support staff, or the custodian, you are ultimately regarded as the responsible party. The difference is in the details.
About the Author: Jesi Brooks is the Director of Operations for Advisor Transition Services and StaffMyRIA. She has worked with many advisors and custodians over the years and uses her experiences to teach others about the importance of working strategically and efficiently without compromising the little things. She really enjoys the satisfaction of tackling messes and learning new things in the process. She also has a great sense of humor and aspires to be a person who goes to an isolated forest on an island in the middle of the ocean with no cell signal for a month.