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The Intelligent Customer Engagement Blog

A new Department of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rule goes into effect April 10, 2017 that will have a major impact on financial advisors, including wealth managers, brokers/dealers, and asset managers.

There are rumblings that the incoming Trump administration or the Republican-controlled Congress could roll back or delay this new DOL ruling on financial advisors. However, many firms have already moved forward and implemented it. Many in the industry believe it is a “competitive advantage” for firms to comply with the rule, regardless of its long-term outlook.

The pending rule protects investors by requiring financial advisors to demonstrate how their advice serves their clients’ best interests. However, it may require changes to the way data is tracked and managed, especially as it relates to client interactions. Many advisors are concerned that this may disrupt their businesses and require costly technology and training.

Client engagement thought leaders, however, see this not as a burden but as an opportunity to connect with clients and strengthen the advisor-client relationship.

TimeTrade’s online Customer Engagement Platform solution can help financial advisors comply with the new DOL requirement, while at the same time improving their client relationships. With appointment-driven personalization from TimeTrade, you can:

  • Include a Click-to-Schedule link in email correspondence with prospective clients that invites them to schedule an appointment for an introductory meeting. This is a fast, easy way to generate new business and eliminate the back and forth required to schedule those all-important first meetings via phone or bulk mail solicitations.
  • Capture and track meetings—both in-person and virtual—that include recommendation conversations. This includes new client onboarding, quarterly or annual reviews with existing clients, ad-hoc meetings, seminars or classes, or any other client interactions.
  • Send automated appointment reminders that will increase show rates and provide instructions to clients about what to expect at each meeting.
  • Track meeting information automatically (when, where, and what topics are covered) and quickly generate reports for internal management (branch managers, compliance) and external authorities (DOL, FINRA, SEC).

TimeTrade fills a critical need for financial advisors by automating meeting management and helping to satisfy DOL Fiduciary Rule Compliance. We also help you better serve your clients by spending less time calling, chasing and waiting to connect with them and more quality time engaging in mutually beneficial conversations. Learn about TimeTrade’s financial advisor appointment setting solutions today.

The ongoing impact of the 2008 financial crisis, along with expanded federal regulations and compliance requirements are shaking up Wall Street and the financial advisory market.

While many financial advisors are unhappy with strictures associated with the new Department of Labor fiduciary rule, one New York-based firm, Client Focused Advisors sees the change as an opportunity to differentiate his practice and grow its client base.

Jason Hill PortraitClient Focused Financial Advice

As the name of his firm suggests, Jason Hill, CEO of Client Focused Advisors has always put his clients’ best interests first.

Visitors to the Client Focused Advisors website see the words “It’s about you. Discover the difference,” which Hill points out is not just an empty marketing slogan, but the essence of what sets his company apart.

“We’ve always believed that a high fiduciary standard is a win-win for both our firm and our clients. To put that into practice, we consult with clients to maximize their full financial picture, addressing their needs with recommendations that build security, as well as wealth, said Hill.

Meetings = The Best Way to Determine Client Need

Hill describes in-person client meetings as “the best way for us to determine the individual financial need of each client.” According to Hill: “Appointments with clients enable highly revealing and productive conversations and an ideal setting to discuss family, priorities, goals and a timeline for achieving them.”

Each appointment is tailored to individual needs, via specific materials and educational tools. The real benefit for clients is the end result: what Jason Hill describes as “peace of mind in knowing that the work we have done will help protect and preserve their lifestyle, assets and most important, their families and valued relationships.”

For more, see Jason Hill’s 10 Tips for Financial Advisors for Client Loyalty.

A Better Way to Meet

“The old way of scheduling a client by trying to reach them by phone or email was inefficient,” said Hill. “The traditional back-and-forth email Ping-Pong or telephone tag to propose a day and time for an annual review was painful for both clients and our advisors alike.”

Since Client Focused Advisors began using online appointment scheduling, Hill and his colleagues can easily book a steady roster of meetings with both prospects and clients. From “Click! to SCHEDULE” buttons on the firm’s website, to hyperlinks to his appointment calendar from his LinkedIn profile and email signature, Jason Hill offers an assortment of ways for others to book his time.

New technologies now simplify important components of the business: “Our CRM system tracks all clients with whom we need to do quarterly investment reviews. Within minutes I can send a personal email to all of them requesting that they schedule a meeting through TimeTrade’s online scheduler. I did that just recently, and 50% of those clients had scheduled within three days.”

Client Focused Advisors’ Proven 6-Step Process for Client Success

The Client Focused Advisors recipe for client satisfaction and results is based on educating, communicating and engaging with them through a proven Six-Step Process:

  1. Project goals
  2. Appraise assets
  3. Gap analysis
  4. Provide options
  5. Implement
  6. Monitor & adjust

Through this process, Hill says that he helps clients through a profitable sequence to organize, formalize, execute, track and tweak the their financial strategies and holdings.

Praise for Client Focused Advisors

Beyond consistently strong recommendations from satisfied clients, Client Focused Advisors has also won more than its fair share of recognition from industry experts. In December 2015, the firm was named “Practice of the Year” finalist by Signator Investors — a dual-registered broker dealer/investment adviser with a national network of independent firms and approximately 1,500 financial professionals across the U.S. In an announcement of that recognition, Signator called out the firm excellence in key areas of practice management, client service, and overall practice performance.

About Client Focused Advisors

With more than 1,200 clients in the NY/NJ/CT Tri-State area, Client Focused Advisors focuses on building and preserving wealth for business owners and senior executives. Founded in 2013 this innovative financial advisory firm aims to help clients achieve their goals of enjoying a secure retirement, leaving a legacy, and providing a college education for children or grandchildren through full-service offerings including insurance, investments, retirement savings, financial planning and asset management.

Delivering Unprecedented Personalized Service

Addressing the needs of individuals, families and corporations in central Massachusetts, Girard Financial Group, LLC is an independent, full service financial planning and investment firm specializing in total asset management. Its offerings include but are not limited to: investment, estate, education, insurance, and income tax planning.

Girard Financial Group “walks the walk” by delivering highly personalized counsel to its clients.

The Importance of In-Person Client Meetings

A major contributor to the firm’s success is the value it places on in-person client meetings. From initial “get to know you” sessions with prospects to annual portfolio reviews, and from planning for major life events (e.g. funding college or retirement) to pre-set meetings every 90 days with businesses– office visits with Girard team members provide an ideal venue for constructive conversations.

Founder & President Daniel F. Girard Jr. LUTCF has been a longtime proponent of face-to-face meetings, saying they help clients to “go from a place of confusion, frustration and fear to a state of clarity, control and confidence.”

Online Appointment Scheduling Creates Successful Client Meetings

Girard first began using TimeTrade following the 2008 financial crisis. At that time, clients were naturally concerned about the future of their portfolios and retirement accounts. After the downturn, Dan Girard knew that meetings with clients would provide an ideal opportunity to discuss their financial status, adjust goals and strategies, and help restore confidence.

Prior to its adoption of TimeTrade, Girard Financial Group scheduled appointments through the standard method of setting a meeting time through phone tag, and back-and-forth email exchanges — a process Girard describes as “time consuming and inefficient.”

Fast Forward to Today

TimeTrade has become an integral part of how Girard runs its practice, manages workflow, and engages with clients. “If we didn’t have TimeTrade, we’d be lost,” says Dan Girard.  Whereas staff used to spend valuable time hitting the phone to set up meetings, TimeTrade has dramatically reduced the need for outbound outreach. And, according to Girard: “Increasingly more and more of our clients don’t call to book their appointments, they just go to our website and find a time that works for them. Confirmed appointments just show up in my calendar.”

Enhancing Client Engagement and Service

For maximum connectivity, the Girard Financial Group offers clients a range of “have it your way” options to book appointments with advisors including:

Company Website

  • Visitors to the Girard Financial Group website will find a “Meet Our Team” section prominently displayed on the homepage, with a prompt to “Schedule an office visit” hyperlinked to TimeTrade, where clients schedule meetings in three quick steps.
  • Similarly, each advisor’s bio on the site’s Our Team section features a “Schedule an office visit” link that shows available time slots on the appointment calendar of that executive.

 Email & Newsletters

  • Email signatures of all of Girard’s employees include a Click! to SCHEDULE button or a To schedule a meeting click HERE… hyperlink directly to that individual’s calendar.
  • Every month, Girard Financial Group emails an opt-in Newsletter to a list of thousands of clients, prospects, and others. Beyond sharing helpful content, the GFG Newsletter also prompts clients to “visit www.GirardFinancialGroup.com to view our calendar and schedule a time to meet.”

A Powerful Referral Engine

Girard Financial Group sets a strong example for others by following “best practices” advocated by Maribeth Kuzmeski who cautioned financial advisors in an NAIFA Advisor Today Magazine article writing: “Referral acquisition is no longer reliant on word-of-mouth.”

Girard communicates regularly with clients and enlists them in growing the practice. This sentence from a recent Newsletter says it all:  “As always if you know anyone who could benefit from the provided information please forward along!”

Dan Girard is bullish about online appointment scheduling, saying: “I don’t know how other financial planners survive without it. Time is money and spending less time worrying about the logistics of setting up appointments gives us more time to meet with clients.”

About Girard Financial Group

Founded in 1999, by Daniel F. Girard Jr. LUTCF, Girard Financial Group is an independent investment and insurance services firm headquartered in Millbury, Massachusetts.

As “Personal CFO” to its clients, Girard Financial Group is involved in coordinating important aspects of their lives including retirement planning, asset and risk management, estate planning, children’s college education, as well as corporate benefits and insurance.

The firm addresses its clients’ needs with independent objectivity, through what it calls a “holistic” approach, bringing together new ideas, professional experience, and knowledge to work for the benefit of the client.