Screening calls are a common part of the prospecting process for financial advisory firms, particularly those that receive a large number of inquiries, and can help determine whether a prospective client might be a good fit. At the same time, these calls can be awkward for both the prospect and the advisor, as the prospect might be asked to discuss personal information about their finances with someone they have never met before, and the advisor has to ask potentially thorny questions, such as whether the prospect meets the firm’s minimum asset requirements. And so, given the high stakes of screening calls (as not only do they serve as a first step for a prospect to become a client, but they also help the advisor save time by screening out unqualified prospects), preparing a prospect and asking thoughtful screening call questions during the interaction can make the process more productive and less awkward.
One way to help alleviate the potential anxiety associated with a screening call is to prepare prospects in advance. For example, advisors using online software tools to schedule screening calls could provide prospects in advance with a more detailed description of the meeting (including a list of questions that will be asked) and could explicitly note the firm’s asset and/or fee minimums (which could allow prospects to screen themselves out before scheduling a meeting rather than finding out they are unqualified during the call itself). In this way, the prospect will be less likely to be surprised by any questions during the meeting, and the advisor can confirm that the prospect meets their minimums rather than bring up the issue without warning. In addition, providing questions in advance (giving the prospect time to think about their answers) can help keep the screening call on track, which is particularly important because they are designed to be short, often scheduled for only 15-20 minutes.
Some questions an advisor might ask the prospect during a screening call are how they think the firm could be helpful for their needs (to help the advisor ensure that the prospect really wants financial planning services and fits the firm’s ideal target client profile if it has one); whether they have ever worked with a financial professional before (to gauge whether they’ve worked with an advisor in the past and to help get a sense of the prospect’s expectations for the relationship); if they have any questions about the advisor’s onboarding and planning processes and confirming that the firm’s asset and/or fee minimums work for the prospect (to get a sense of the prospect’s readiness and desired timeline to get started with a planning relationship).
Ultimately, the key point is that screening questions can be useful tools not only for financial advisors but also for prospects – because knowing whether the relationship will be a good fit without having to spend an hour or more is helpful for both parties involved. And while screening calls may be uncomfortable and awkward, letting prospects know what to expect can help ease these feelings by promising respect, directness, and information. Which could help get what could become a long-term relationship off on the right foot!