What Does The Initial Meeting With Us Look Like?

Benjamin Haas |

We're taking on new clients and we want no one to have any misconceptions about how we go through that courting process. What does that first meeting look like? How do we get to know somebody? And more importantly, how do you get to know us? What are we trying to achieve in that first meeting?

What is the first step in the process?

There is no script for the initial meeting. It really is truly a feeler meeting that digs deeper on what ultimately brought us together. Why did you reach out to us? What are you looking to accomplish? Are there any “fires” to be put out? Are there time sensitive decisions that need to be made? Are you going through a major life transition? At the heart of these questions is wanting to get to know you better and figure out what matters most to you. Then let's start to pair that with what we do in financial planning and see if we start to fit together. We also take this time to clarify what we do because there are a lot of misconceptions on what a financial planner does.  Ultimately, we have the goal to educate people and share our process but that first meeting is really to get to know you and what matters most to you.

Why do people come to us?

It's rare that people come to us and say that they want financial planning. People mostly find us when they are going through some sort of life transition. It could be an upcoming retirement, a loved one passed away, or they have a financial decision that they need to make and are looking for feedback. Another reason we see is that they may have an existing advisor but aren’t getting great communication and are seeking better guidance on their investments. They aren’t sure if what they own is still a good fit for them. 

Do we just handle investments?

No! In the case where someone would come to us solely focused on investments, we would discuss our process and how we approach things. We certainly do manage investment accounts for people but we lead with financial planning so we can see the big picture. Investments just happen to be a portion of that.  This is key because we will poke and prod a little bit to better understand the context around the ask for the initial meeting.  We don’t just look at one decision in a vacuum. This may mean that we can't answer their question that day, but we will show them what an ongoing relationship with us looks like and how we can get them to that answer fairly quickly. Because ultimately that's our goal - to find their purpose or their “why” and what are they really looking to accomplish.

That word "why" comes up a lot.

Their “why” helps us give better advice when we do engage with someone in financial planning. Let's say they want to retire at a certain age. What are they really hoping to do? Maybe they are trying to get away from work.  Maybe they have other life or family goals, such as spending more time with grandchildren or traveling with their spouse. If we can start to learn more details, we can start to craft better, adaptable plans behind the scenes with advice that fits their why. When having to make a trade-off, their why can equal their priorities and they can gain a sense of comfort in knowing if their top priority is intact, all is OK.  

What do I need to bring to the initial meeting?

The first meeting is not about bringing us all your data to get deep into the weeds on everything that makes up your financial life. That's more likely the second or third step in this process. That first meeting is better understanding what do you value? What are you prioritizing? Part of putting the puzzle together for us is to start figuring out not only how do we make this work, but how do we communicate this effectively to you? How do you best make decisions? How do you digest this stuff? This is what we're trying to learn right off the bat because that's going to put us in a better position to say this isn't a great fit for the work we do, or this is a good fit for the both of us.

What is the goal of the first meeting?

It’s getting a feel for our values, our philosophies, and do they match with the person that we’re meeting with enough to take that next step. I think our goal is to get close to deciding if they want to do financial planning. Do we think we can add value? Can we work well together to impact some change? The next couple steps in that process are conducting a deeper dive on data and giving a proposal on financial planning - what does it cost.  These steps come after the initial meeting. Let's see if we even have a basis for a second date and we'll go from there.

If we decide we’re a good fit in the first meeting, where do we go from there?

We show what a relationship might look like using our tools. We’ll show you what the financial planning portal looks like and start to play with some scenarios to test drive the relationship. This is not coming in and buying something, it's not a sales conversation. Maybe we're selling ourselves, maybe we're selling our process but if we're going to engage, we're going to put a lot of hours into this together. So, it really is important that we test drive this so there's no misconceptions on what we do and how we work. If you decide you’re going to hire us and we're welcoming you into this Haas Financial Group family, we know it's a relationship. It’s not going to be a one and done, give you the answer to that burning question that you came with at the beginning and send you on your way. It's going to be, here's the two- or three-year plan and by the way, halfway through, we may be adjusting and cycling back through another planning process. It's all about goal orientation. It's all about putting you on the right path.

What is our service model to support change?  How do we get paid?

The most important part for us is there is no cost to that initial meeting. We don't bill for our time in that way. That initial meeting and the follow up is no cost. We will go through all these steps until we finally get to the part in the process where we offer a formal proposal. We want to get paid as consultants to do the financial planning work. At that point, if someone decides they’re interested and would like to move forward with us, then the fee is clear and transparent, and we can move forward. Up until that point, there is no commitment and no cost.

What’s in it for you?

Test driving the relationship means that we’re trying to find out if putting all that work into it is going to be meaningful for them. It’s probably fair to say at the end of the first meeting, maybe we have an idea of what that might look like from a fee perspective but that's the reason we wanted to go through steps two and three of the process. Gather the data, then start to do a strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT) analysis for people on what's going well and what's not. How can we help? The proposal is a list of things that we're going to do for you. In the absence of that, it's hard to quantify that fee. We're like any other contractor or bid. If you're going to put an addition on your house, what's that addition going to cost? What are we talking about here? A whole new side of the house or are we talking about remodeling a bathroom? We have to go through the process of identifying what does that really look like so that we can quantify the fee and people would know right off the bat how we're going to get paid. There's not some sort of sales commission on the back end. It's as transparent as can be and that's really what we're looking to get to.

How do you get started?

We're still kind of in COVID World here. This meeting doesn't have to happen kneecap to kneecap in the office. It can, and we can safely do that, but first meetings can be a phone call introduction, it can be a Zoom meeting. Whatever is comfortable to get that ball started. However, there is value in putting the face to the name and so we can see facial expressions. But certainly, we would rather somebody reach out over the phone than not reach out at all. We're here to help. We want to help people through this process and at least spread the word of financial planning, even if they decide not to work with us. We're happy to be a resource for those around us.

Maybe you’ve heard of the Haas Financial Group. Maybe friends or family have talked about us. Maybe you’ve listened to a podcast or saw something on social media. If you’re part of our community and still wondering what we do and how can we help, let’s find out. That’s the reason to have that first meeting. There's plenty more content on our website (www.haasfinancialgroup.com). What our practice is all about, our six core values, the team that's here, the misconceptions about planning and planning conversations we have. We even have example client profiles. Go to our website, check us out. If you want to have a conversation, you can book an initial meeting with us from there. Or shoot us an email (info@haasfinancialgroup.com) or give us a call (484-648-4040). We want to be a resource to people.  There’s certainly no pressure to go through the process. Sometimes it may feel a little bit daunting to even take that first step of reaching out or it may feel like more work. But from our perspective, get that ball rolling. If the thought is in your head, there's no time like the present. Let us help you go through that process and we will take as much of the responsibility on our shoulders as we can or as you're willing to let us shoulder. If it's a process you've been through before, you have another professional, we're happy to be a second set of eyes. We know we do it differently than most people and that's by design, but let's just find out if we're a fit.

Tracking # 1-05171128

Check out our podcast on this topic: https://www.haasfinancialgroup.com/podcast/ep-16-what-does-initial-meeting-look