It’s that time again – you’ve got numerous customer reviews to conduct but you just don’t know when you’re going to fit it in. Perhaps you can’t keep track of when your reviews need to happen? Then they creep up on you, with dozens needing completion in a matter of days. You know that as a financial adviser, you have a contractual requirement to provide a full financial review to your client, so you tell yourself that going forwards, you’ll be more proactive.

The trouble is, with the best will in the world, if you’re already over-burdened with work you likely don’t have the time or the resource to put the right system in place. From a management perspective, it’s a good idea to have a process in place on how you track your reviews. Take a moment (even if your day is crammed full) to think about how you plan your review process and consider whether:

  • You’re tracking your reviews?
  • You’re leaving enough time to plan your reviews?
  • You’re booking in your appointments in advance (face to face or remotely), giving you time to amply prepare for your clients’ reviews?
  • You’re delivering your reviews on time?
  • You’re following up with the right documentation detailing your discussion?

Can you answer yes to any of the above? If not, don’t risk a complaint, you need to work smart. If you do just one thing, make sure you diarise when your reviews are due and count backwards 5 or 6 weeks so you can prepare without that last-minute rush.

A good back-office system manages the flow of work volume and prevents bottlenecks, reducing delays. More importantly, it allows you to plan flexibly. The type of information to include would be as follows:

  • Client review date (allow approximately six weeks notice, to book into your workload, book appointments, get nay required data from providers etc), so if you have a review due in early August, your system to flag it late June)
  • Who is conducting and who needs to deliver the review
  • A filing system to keep the review information in one, easily accessible place so you can refer back whenever required and document that the review has taken place.

Is your Spreadsheet Dynamic?

You might have your own system and it may work perfectly fine for you, but at Adviser Outsourcing, we still see firms using basic spreadsheets – they’re just not dynamic enough in capturing all the information required and they’re a headache to read if you’re not used to them. If you do use a spreadsheet, what alert system do you have in place to flag when a review is due but hasn’t yet been delivered.

We advise our clients to use their back office system and track what reviews are due, signing off when they’re delivered, no spreadsheet in sight!  We always recommend a proper back-office system that allows you to comfortably push those reviews to the back of your mind until you’re alerted that one is due for preparation.

Are you Keeping Review Records?

Are you up-to-date with keeping records of when your reviews occurred or if they didn’t why not?  You need to be absolutely up to speed on the following:

  • Did your review get done on time or was it late?
  • If you delivered outside of the time frame, why?
  • Did you see the client face to face or virtually?
  • Did the client postpone the review – indefinitely or for a few weeks?

Why Was the Review Cancelled?

It’s all very well if your client postpones their review but as long as they have another date in. If you fell down internally and failed to provide a review, it is, unfortunately, unacceptable and you could face consequences. So if that review wasn’t delivered, document the reason clearly. If the client didn’t want one, follow up with a letter detailing why the review is important (this covers your bases). If there was another reason why it wasn’t delivered, again, follow it up with a letter and document the reasons why, outlining any implications.

Have you a process in place that can identify when a client isn’t having a review delivered consecutively. As a firm or manager, do you feel confident that you can extract the data needed quickly; viewing a high-level picture of what your company is and isn’t delivering? Don’t forget, if you don’t deliver those reviews properly, your client could say that you breached your contract. There have been recent occasions where clients have successfully had fees repaid where proof of sufficient review wasn’t provided.

How do you Deliver your Customer Reviews?

If you have the systems nicely in place, do you know how you’re going to deliver your client reviews?  So, when your system flags that a review is due, do you know who’s going to do it, who’s going to plan it and who’s going to book it in?  Have these tasks assigned so they don’t fall by the wayside because everyone relies on someone else to pick them up!  Be clear as crystal.  We’ve seen plenty of firms where people just assumed it’s someone else’s job.  The same applies to documenting the information that is shared during the review and publishing documentation post-review; make sure those responsible understand their role and what’s required.

There is no rule on how the document is presented, we’ve seen lots of variety and yes, if you’re interested, we can share it with you.