A hallmark of our planning with clients is to work closely with their other professional advisers (accountants, solicitors, finance brokers).
It may sound like a ‘given’ but you would be surprised how many advisers work on their own when advising. I prefer to run my advice past a client’s existing advisers (and my own team here) to ensure that my approach is meeting the client need. This leads to some very interesting conversations with other professionals as it leaves you open to a challenge or two!
As a teenager I worked with an ex-bomber pilot who had a lovely saying “Good reconnaissance is never wasteful.” My preference has always been to dry run a strategy before putting it into practise to work out the flaws and unintended consequences. It does mean your time as is extended on that client work but it ensures the advice is as good as it can possibly be when it leaves our office.
This week I had two very interesting conversations with other advisers; one of whom has just referred a new client to me, the other a professional I have known for some years.
The first had received my draft letter and called me to ask a few questions. The first question was a statement providing me with a vital piece of information omitted in the initial client discovery documents and meeting held. It finessed my advice by removing two steps from the process, which reduced time and cost for the client. A worthwhile conversation! The other questions opened the discussion of a long-forgotten legacy for the client and how this could be ‘solved’ with the above planning.
My takeaway memory is the professional comment, “You understood a great deal from one 90-minute meeting with the client.” It was more like five hours as I had researched Companies House, made and revised notes following our online fact-find exercise complemented with the initial notes from their accountant.
The second was a conversation picking up on advice to the client regarding their Wills. The decision was taken to remove the nil rate band trust from the client Will which on the face of it may seem strange. There were several hard and soft factors which led to the advice, not fully shining through in the first draft. The second draft was both succinct and clearer, important as it provided a marker to the family as to why the Will had been changed.
Any productive conversation with a client results in written advice to fully document why we made our decisions. It saves a great deal of time if your transaction is questioned, or useful for any beneficiary who is looking to understand better what they have inherited.
As one of my clients states “I never met a first draft that I wouldn’t want to work on” and that is absolutely true and essential if you have a collaborative approach to client planning. Be prepare to be challenged! The rewards will be so much sweeter because of it.
Thanks for reading and