Matt Reiner Featured In Advisor Perspectives: Why Surge Meetings Work For You And Your Clients

My calendar is loaded to exhaustion. It’s just meetings, meetings, and more meetings, one right after another. Some days it’s a challenge to find the time to breathe.

Being a successful financial advisor means spending time talking with the people whose wealth you manage. That means meetings, and they create a traffic jam that snarls your daily routine.

The clients who entrust you to manage their wealth expect you to do so thoughtfully. And a thoughtful approach is the result of thinking. You’re trapped in a merry-go-round of meetings, not thinking. You’re denying your clients an essential component they expect from you.

But there’s good news. Surge meetings, originally pioneered by Stephanie Bogan, will solve your problem by maintaining important ongoing contact with your clients while better managing your time.

It’s a matter of looking at the problem from a different perspective. Let’s say you meet with two to five clients per week all year long. With the meeting surge approach, you bunch those meetings together and hold three to six client meetings daily every few months. That way, you are clustering those meetings together and holding them in bunches, thus freeing up big chunks of time in your busy calendar.

Applying the meeting surge approach allows you to focus on client reviews and discussions conducted in well-organized and highly efficient blocks of time. That creates a golden opportunity for you to deliver more personalized advice custom-tailored to each client, therefore providing greater value to your services as a financial advisor. This streamlining helps you balance the demanding disciplines of open and ongoing communication and conducting deeper research and thinking more creatively.

Make scheduling as simple as possible. Your clients are every bit as busy as you are. They don’t have time to waste going back and forth finding a time that works for them to get together with you – and then having to endure the additional hassle of checking with their spouse to make sure that time works for them, too. And we all know that can lead to a whole new round of going back and forth just to set up a good time for everyone.

With the surge meetings, you present the client the weeks you have specifically blocked off and tell them, “Here is the window when I’m available. Now, please find a time and date within it that works best for your schedule.” Believe it or not, even this way of booking meeting appointments frees up more time for you because it eliminates the frenzy that often accompanies coming up with a time that suits everyone. And your clients will appreciate the increased flexibility it will give them.

I’ve talked with colleagues at different firms. They agree surge meetings are a highly effective time management tool that produces solid results.

Some firms tackle it from a quarterly perspective. They will choose a specific six-week period every quarter and dedicate it exclusively to meeting clients. They’re strict in enforcing it. Those blocks of time are the only option clients have for sitting down together and talking.

What about the other six weeks in the quarter? What happens then?

They are dedicated to working on the business. With distractions and interruptions reduced to a bare minimum, wealth managers have the freedom to focus on the countless things competing for their attention. It’s that rare chance to deep dive into material, go beyond the executive summary, and get lost in the details. Advisors have the time to do more than keep up with their clients’ needs. A better-informed advisor means a better-prepared client to make sound, informed decisions. And that leads to their peace of mind and a better night’s sleep.

There’s also the advantage of being able to plan. How often have you thought, “I’d really like to get a jump start on that big presentation and give it the attention it deserves, but I just don’t have the time.” By practicing the surge meetings technique, that obstacle is out of your way. Or maybe you would rather spend a week free of meetings to take your clients’ financial plans to the next level through deeper development.

By taking advantage of surge meetings, you suddenly have options and opportunities that you don’t already have.

Some firms take a slightly different approach. Rather than holding them quarterly, they schedule them during spring or fall.

Whether you hold them every 13 weeks or 26 weeks isn’t crucial. What matters here is that you adopt a system and stick with it. And don’t be afraid to tweak your plan as you go along; if, for instance, you find 26 weeks too long, try holding them quarterly and see if that works better. But the important thing is to try. Because anything that creates a new structure that frees up more time for you to concentrate on your business and your clients is a good thing.

I’d like to go into a little more detail on something I touched on earlier: the difference between doing and thinking. We believe we are acting in our client’s best interest when we are staying busy. Certainly, holding a seemingly endless string of meetings week after week and month after month qualifies as “doing.” But just how much service are we giving them in those meetings? Are we doing them a disservice by not being as fully informed and prepared as we could be?

Thinking is what’s required of wealth managers. Productive thinking involves learning. Learning means exposing yourself to new concepts and ideas. And there’s so much for advisors to learn! There is the psychology involved in our profession and how to use it to your advantage; there’s ever-evolving technology and its many practical benefits to your daily routine; and of course, there’s always the wave of new information about emerging trends and new developments with the financial markets themselves.

While they may not explicitly say it, your clients expect you to be a constant learner. They are counting on you to stay on top of the many factors that impact their wealth and opportunities to grow and increase it in the coming years and decades.

I’m always on the lookout for anything that will give me the greatest tool of all in our field: time. Regardless of what you want to do – whether it’s exploring and comparing the benefits of various new software programs or analyzing reams of data about a new investment opportunity – it takes time to do it. Additional time will not magically appear on your calendar by itself. You must proactively take steps to make it happen. Adopting the meeting surge approach makes that happen.

Read the Advisor Perspectives article here.