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Understanding what makes a good advice process

  • Understand the use of the first meeting and what this means for advisers.
  • Learn about the five steps of the advice process.
  • Grasp why first meetings should not be the focus of client/adviser interactions.
Understanding what makes a good advice process

Once upon a time, in a land now seemingly far, far away, intrepid financial advisers would prospect for clients and try to secure the all-important ‘first meeting’ with a client.

Some may have worked in organisations where they were targeted on the number of first or second meetings.

For some, the first meeting with a client would be the one and only chance to ‘pitch’ their services, impress a client and potentially move towards 'closing' at the second meeting.

How times change; changed by the number of advisers active in the UK, our suitability focused regulatory environment and the way in which consumers consider, research and consume financial services.

To discuss “What makes a good first meeting?” in 2018 is to miss the point entirely about the ways in which advisers today interact with clients – often before the client ever has the first meeting in the physical sense (if it even happens face-to-face) with an adviser.

The compliance aspects of the first meeting, in terms of disclosure and knowing your clients, are set in stone. So the more appropriate question is “What makes a good advice process and how will my clients interact with it to ensure better prospects for all?” 

What being hungry teaches us about the advice process

Imagine, if you will, that you are hungry and you’ve decided it’s time for food.

You are on the train and look around for all the possible sources of food near you at the moment. Having found the options, you consider which is best for you and make your purchase.

Afterwards you may think you’d made a good choice and would repeat it, or made a bad choice and wished you’d chosen differently. 

The process for buying that food is replicated the world over, billions of times a day, by consumers of all types buying all manner of goods and services.

Leading academics and strategists have pored over this process and have boiled it down to five steps:

  • Problem recognition - e.g. I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I want a new car, etc.
  • Information search – e.g. what is there to eat/drink around here, what cars are in my price range?
  • Evaluation of alternatives – e.g. the chocolate bar looks tasty but may make me feel sick, the salad looks boring but may help with the diet; the Porsche looks cool but is pricey, whereas the Ford SMAX looks terrible but fits all the kids’ car seats.
  • Purchase
  • Post-purchase evaluation – e.g. would, and should, I do that again?

For any purchase, there are myriad external influences to take into account within this process, which inform each stage every time we undertake it.

Who am I? What is my age, culture, religion, ethnicity and income?

Who are the people who influence me most? Am I currently happy, sad, laid back, in a hurry, with friends or alone?

The key influences on the process can be boiled down to the personal, psychological and social. Those influences will ultimately decide how we progress through any buying decision and decide whether we will make that decision again or not.

It’s worth analysing your last purchase of anything and seeing if you can break the model - you can’t. 

What does this mean for advisers?

Consider how your clients decided to engage your services.


Please answer the six multiple choice questions below in order to bank your CPD. Multiple attempts are available until all questions are correctly answered.

  1. Which of these is not one of the five steps Mr Russell lists as having been pored over by academics?

  2. Mr Russell says: "A fundamental question for any advisory business is how well aligned you are with the buying process of your clients." True or false?

  3. What type of content can help advisers highlight issues and layout their services?

  4. The author suggests having as little friction in the advice process as possible, which can be achieved by what?

  5. Mr Russell states: "Being in touch with the clients doesn’t have to mean..." Finish the sentence.

  6. According to Mr Russell, he describes the advice process in three ways. Which one of these is the odd one out?

Nearly There…

You have successfully answered all the questions correctly, well done!

You should now know…

  • Understand the use of the first meeting and what this means for advisers.
  • Learn about the five steps of the advice process.
  • Grasp why first meetings should not be the focus of client/adviser interactions.

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