While it can be easy for financial advisors to recognize the wide range of ways they add value for clients throughout the year, clients themselves might not be aware of what their advisors do for them behind the scenes outside of their annual meetings (e.g., rebalancing their investment accounts or reviewing their insurance policies). Without knowledge of this ‘shadow work’, clients might not recognize the full breadth of responsibilities their advisor (and the firm’s back-office staff) are handling on their behalf to justify their fee.
One of the ways advisory firms can help solve this dilemma is to implement a client service calendar, which outlines key services being provided to clients during each month of the year. This not only gives clients a better idea of the actual work involved in financial planning that goes on outside of meetings but also helps them understand when the work happens during the year. Additionally, client service calendars can help manage client expectations while allowing advisors to adhere to their preferred service cadence (recognizing that some client issues will likely need to be handled on an ad hoc basis). Furthermore, by outlining the actual scope of work the advisor performs for clients, client service calendars can be helpful when it comes to dealing with regulators, who may need to assess the specific services provided by advisors to ensure that these services justify client fees.
When creating a client service calendar, advisory firms have many styles to choose from to meet their specific needs. For example, firms can opt for a monthly, bi-monthly, or even daily calendar, depending on what they want to display for their clients. And client service calendars can be implemented in a variety of ways, from a single-page calendar that serves as a useful handout during prospect and client meetings to a daily calendar with important dates that clients actually want to hang on their refrigerators and reminds them of the value their advisor is providing!
Once an advisory firm identifies what they want its service calendar to do (e.g., demonstrate ongoing value and serve as a client engagement tool) and chooses an appropriate style that supports its calendar’s function, it can then consider how to actually create its client service calendar by deciding what to include in the calendar and which tools they want to use to produce the calendar. These decisions will depend on several factors, from the type of calendar and the amount of detail included, to whether the calendar is meant to be used as an in-meeting resource or to be kept by the client for their regular reference. And with a variety of technology tools and outsourced solutions available to help them create and implement their client service calendar, advisory firms can easily select the option that best meets their needs.
Ultimately, the key point is that client service calendars not only can allow firms to better organize and display their service offerings but can also show clients (and regulators) the full range of services being provided throughout the year. And by clarifying when planning services will be offered and when events relevant to clients will take place, advisory firm owners make the financial planning experience more tangible and create structure in their processes, all while giving advisors time to go deeper in serving their clients!