Successful fiduciaries write things down

In part five of the blog series, “Five Disciplines of a Successful Fiduciary,” Danielle and Rob talk about the importance of consistency.

Every professional field has its secrets to success, best-in-class practices that yield positive results with clients, in all locations. For advisors, success—and business growth—often depends on how consistently you apply the processes that support client on-boarding, overall client experience, investments, reviews, and team leadership.

Team checklists

Craft your checklists with your team and avoid off-the-rack templates.  Whoever is responsible for the process creates the template.   To develop consistency, create from scratch, written checklists for each key function, much like surgeons use checklists to ensure patient safety.

For example, a checklist for on-boarding a client, covering the first six months, might have on it items such as: a list of paperwork to be signed, accounts to be opened, transfer documents in process, money transferred, a 7-day welcome call from the team relationship manager,  a follow up 60-day survey call, among others.

Know that no matter how mundane the checklist items might appear, there is an underlying beauty to them.  By writing things down, and following the steps religiously, you can systematize and streamline your processes.  Additionally, your team will know just what to do in any situation, won’t panic, and will avoid sending an inconsistent message to clients and other team members.  Nothing slips through the cracks… The time and energy saved will allow you to be fully present for your clients and also have time to think creatively about how to grow your practice.

Checklists are especially useful in times of stress. Do you have a market drop check list or an investment education checklist? If the market opened or closed with a huge loss, who would call which client, and what would they say? Without a checklist covering investments and your investing philosophy, your long term focus may never have been properly communicated or reconfirmed to your clients.   This might cause you to miss out on a golden opportunity to earn your fee and grow your business.

Under stress like a severe drop in the market, a checklist of action items will keep team members and clients from reacting.  Systems in place will drive better outcomes and confidence in staying invested.

What are the three investment tenants you will remind your clients of post reading this blog?

Checklists also serve another, more daily purpose. Everyone in your practice has a role and a responsibility.   No matter the size of your practice, it’s possible that at least one team member is absent any given workday. Written guidelines ensure consistency from one team member to another performing the exact same role in a backup capacity or promotion.

Once they are created, it’s vital that each team member learns and lives the checklists. Recognize and reward team members who do.

Having checklists also allows you to showcase your value proposition to clients (both existing and prospective)—but only if you have developed the checklists yourselves and they reflect your uniqueness. Here are three tips as you create your checklists:

  1. Discuss with your team how the use of the checklists will be monitored, modified, who will be held accountable, and how.
  2. The team member who owns the execution of the process drafts the checklist and collects feedback from team members to finalize.
  3. Create a team plan to inspect processes with some regularity.

Remember, the checklists allow you to spread your practice’s knowledge throughout the team, sowing seeds of growth. And they are one more way of showing your preparation, consistency and commitment to flawless execution and that’s one more way you tell clients you care.

Danielle Papandrea is the Head of BlackRock’s Affinity Group. Rob Kron is the Head of Investment and Retirement Education for BlackRock’s U.S. Wealth Advisory group. They are regular contributors to The Blog.

Investing involves risks, including possible loss of principal.

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