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How Advisors Can Run an Effective Discovery Meeting

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An advisor setting expectations for clients in a discovery meeting.

Scheduling a discovery meeting with a prospective or new client is an opportunity to get to know them a little and establish the ground rules for your interactions going forward. Setting an agenda for the meeting can ensure that you’re covering the most important topics. You should also be prepared to ask the client some key questions about their finances and goals.

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Why Discovery Meetings Are Important for Advisors

Client discovery meetings often serve as a bridge between the initial contact you have with a prospect and their decision to become your client. The purpose of this meeting is to allow you to gather information about a client’s financial situation, including their needs and goals, to determine whether your services are a good fit.

A discovery meeting is also an opportunity for a prospective client to assess whether they want to entrust their financial management needs to you. They may be sitting down with you after making initial contact to discuss their financial situation but how you handle discovery can influence whether they decide to schedule a second meeting.

Financial Advisor Discovery Meeting Agenda Template

Before you sit down with a prospect or client, you’ll need to flesh out an agenda. Your agenda outlines an orderly plan for what will happen in the discovery meeting. Breaking the agenda down into distinct blocks can help with setting an appropriate pace, based on the amount of time you’re allotting to meet with the client.

What should your agenda look like? Here’s an example of what you might include.

Sample Client Discovery Agenda Template

  • Introduction (5 mins.) – During the introduction, you’ll greet the client and introduce yourself, as well as any team members who’ll be sitting in on the meeting with you.
  • Meeting overview (5-10 mins.) – Following the introduction, you’ll take a few minutes to explain the purpose of the discovery meeting and outline what you hope to accomplish during your time with the client.
  • Client assessment (25-30 mins.) – This is the first Q&A phase of the meeting, in which you’ll ask the client questions about their current financial situation, their needs and goals, and their risk tolerance.
  • Initial feedback (15 mins.) – Once you’ve gone through your list of questions you should be able to summarize the client’s main challenges/goals and suggest potential solutions.
  • Explaining your role (10-15 mins.) – At this stage, you’ll tell the client a little more about what you do and your approach to financial planning. You can also offer an overview of your fee structure and what you expect from clients.
  • Client Q&A (10-15 mins.) – As the meeting winds down you can allocate time to the client to ask any questions they might have. This is an opportunity to establish trust by reiterating how you can help them.
  • Closing (10 mins.) – Here, you’ll discuss any necessary next steps for the client, share any relevant documentation or paperwork they might need, and offer them sincere thanks for coming.

You can adjust the times for each segment of the meeting as needed. The most crucial step is arguably the client assessment, as this is when you’ll have a chance to glean some significant information about their financial needs.

Questions to Ask During an Advisory Client Discovery Meeting

Advisors discussing the agenda for a client discovery meeting.

Creating a list of questions to ask during your discovery meeting ensures that you’re covering the most relevant points. If you need some suggestions on what to ask, the following questions may be good to include.

  • Financially speaking, how do you feel about where you are right now?
  • Do you know your net worth?
  • Can you tell me about your assets and liabilities? What do you own and what do you owe?
  • What are you not doing with your money that you would like to start doing?
  • Where would you like to be financially in 5 years? 10 years? 20?
  • What are your top three most important financial goals?
  • If you’re not making progress toward those goals at the pace you’d like, what do you think are the biggest things that are holding you back?
  • How confident do you feel about the financial decisions you’ve made so far?
  • Do you feel comfortable with your level of investment knowledge?
  • How would you rate your risk tolerance on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least willing to take risk and 10 being the most willing?
  • What’s your time horizon for reaching your goals?
  • Do you anticipate any major life changes, such as a divorce or job loss, which might impact your financial situation?
  • Why do you think you need an advisor and what do you hope to gain by working with one?

These are good questions to ask because they’re open-ended and require more than just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Keep in mind that you don’t have to ask all of them, and you might not be able to, given the time limit you’ve allotted. Choosing 5 to 10 questions that feel most relevant based on what you may have learned about the client through an initial phone call may be sufficient.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Is a New Client Discovery Meeting?

There’s no set rule for how long a client discovery meeting should last but for most advisors, 60 to 90 minutes should be sufficient. If you’ve got an agenda in place, you can shrink or expand each segment to fit the time you’ve allowed to meet with the client.

What Happens After the Client Discovery Meeting?

If the meeting is a precursor to entering a professional relationship with the client, the next step may be onboarding. Creating a new client onboarding checklist can help streamline the process so that it’s as efficient as possible for everyone involved.

What Are Some Discovery Meeting Best Practices for Advisors?

Some of the best ways to approach a discovery meeting include doing your research beforehand to understand what the client might be expecting from you, asking open-ended questions to facilitate a conversation, and practicing active listening. It’s also important to ensure the meeting begins and ends on time, which can help make a good first impression.

Bottom Line

An advisor going through a list of questions during a discovery meeting with a client.

Client discovery meetings are an important part of any advisor’s busy schedule. The conversations you have can set the stage for a longer-term relationship if you’re able to demonstrate your value to the client and pique their interest so they’re encouraged to learn more about your business.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • Building trust is critical for growing a sustainable business. If clients don’t trust you, they’re less likely to remain your clients for the long term. Creating a social media presence is one way to build trust; as prospects get to know you through your content, they may come to value what you have to say. If you’re looking for a way to grow your client base, you may consider working with an online lead-generation platform. SmartAsset AMP (Advisor Marketing Platform) is our holistic marketing service that financial advisors can use for client lead generation and automated marketing. Sign up for a free demo to explore how SmartAsset AMP can help you expand your practice’s marketing operation. Get started today.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you become more visible in local search results, which can lead to more clients. The catch is that SEO can take time to produce results. Here’s a guide in financial advisor SEO to help fine-tune your marketing strategy.

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