Jan 27 2023
Tips to improve your financial planning practice
By Ganeshwary Mohanathanapalan
As a financial advisor, building your own financial planning practice requires a great amount of hard work and dedication. At the heart of the profession, client satisfaction and trust are particularly essential to achieve success.
Ching Mee Fen, a 13-year MDRT member from Malaysia, with two Court of the Table qualifications, shares her tips and experiences on how financial advisors can be of better service to their clients, thus improving their practice.
- Take up courses to upskill yourself
Good financial advisors are always looking for new ways to improve their services and one way to do this is by learning new skills. Ching believes that with the advances in technology, changing consumer trends and the dynamic business environment, upskilling oneself has become more imperative.
“We need to recognize the importance of upskilling ourselves to keep up with the evolving trends and movements of the insurance industry. By doing so, we are improving our knowledge, capabilities, and the ability to provide better service to our clients.”
When Ching attended a financial planner course known as Registered Financial Planning (RFP) established by the central bank in Malaysia, she was able to apply what she learned to her practice. “One of the interesting topics I learnt was good strategies and ideas for legacy planning that I can implement for my clients. I have used the knowledge gained to help solve my client's questions about their financial planning matters,” she shares.
Ching adds that if you are considering upskilling, think about which skills you would like to develop further. For instance, a management or leadership course or digital marketing courses might be a beneficial option for career development. “All you need to do is search online. There are many available and free courses online as well as informative YouTube videos to help with whatever skills you want to learn and excel. Additionally, you can purchase courses or training sessions for your firm to upskill the entire team.” She shares that typically, at the end of a completed course, you will receive a certificate which you can share with your clients to add credibility to your business.
- Improve your aftercare services
The role of an advisor does not always end with the sale of a policy. Focusing on client experience will help ensure your financial planning practice stays profitable. Ching explains that when financial advisors invest in aftercare service, it offers clients a personalized experience that will help them improve their familiarity with their insurance policies and reduce the frequency of claims. Additionally, satisfied clients will continue to support your business and send prospects your way. She believes the after-sale service is crucial to maintain a lasting professional relationship with clients.
“My aim is to give the best advice, service and experience to my clients.” Ching has mobilized a team to focus solely on aftercare services specializing in progress check-ins, well-being checks, and so on. “If clients need any changes to be made to their policy or submit any claims, the team consisting of runners and drivers, will be able to do so immediately. My team will reach out to them and make sure the whole process of our service is smooth. We have a driver that can help collect claims from clients or send necessary documents to them for sign off,” she says.
Another good example of excellent aftercare service from Ching is taking advantage of the festive seasons. During this time, going beyond the usual virtual greetings on WhatsApp, advisors can send gift baskets to clients to keep us at the top of their minds. “They are very likely to appreciate the gesture,” she says.
- Use more digital tools and platforms
In the era of digitalization, many advisors have now adopted new approaches using technology to improve their processes at work. Ching says advisors who are comfortable using technology are the ones who are going to thrive in the new digital economy.
She agrees digital tools such as CRM software, email marketing automation software, online scheduler, social media automation tool and others, can help financial advisors deliver prompt and organized services. “Clients are up to-date with the latest technology these days and the pandemic has really changed people’s behaviour and habits. They prefer seamless, quick, and hassle-free services. Financial planning can be a complicated and daunting process for many and these digital tools help ease some tasks.”
For example, Ching mentions how Zoom and Google Meet have been her platform of choice for meetings. “I am able to meet many more clients and do more meetings with online calls. “Another way Ching has utilized technology is by using mobile applications for clients who prefer a paperless process. This process ensures there are no errors when signing a new policy. The mobile application also allows clients and team members to access the policy at any given time. “This is efficient in the case of an emergency instead of having to rely on both parties taking time to search for the hardcopy of the client’s policy.”
The fundamentals that set a great financial advisor apart from a good one is having a great track record of service and performance. Building a great financial planning practice is all about focusing on a few game-changing steps and doing them well. “I have learned many tips throughout my years as an advisor that I have incorporated into my practice. These mentioned above are just a few that have helped me with sustain the business,” Ching concludes.