Delivering what you charge for: How to earn your clients’ fees

You can promise a lot as a financial advisor, but do you always provide the value your clients are paying for? Today’s guest, Dean Trudeau, thinks the key is as simple as setting out clear expectations ‒ and then making sure you meet them.

A Certified Financial Planner, Dean began his career in the financial services industry in 1987. Over the years, he has served as Principal of Horizon Financial Services, Sales Manager of Manulife Financial/Manulife Securities, and District Vice President of RBC Global Asset Management. His firm, OPES Wealth Management, is a boutique wealth management firm that caters to business owners and professionals.

Listen to the episode to hear what Dean has to say about providing value to clients by always delivering on what you promise.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

  • Dean’s 3-step process for providing integrated advice (5:50)
  • How Dean makes sure his services are worth the fees (9:20)
  • How Dean identified his sweet spot of 125 clients (15:55)
  • Applying Investment Planning Counsel’s Total Client Experience in the field (20:20)
  • How Dean’s practice is moving toward a family office structure offering a lifestyle concierge service (23:45)
  • Planning social events to engage with prospects (29:20)
  • The emerging 3-tiered financial advice system (35:15)

Links and Resources:

Dean Trudeau

The OPES Wealth Management

Quotes by Dean:

“I love when we put a plan together and people share their goals and dreams with me, and we’re able to find out where they are, figure out where they want to go, and then put a great plan in place and have it get there.”

“Everybody pays fees. And we want to make sure that they get the value of the fees they’re paying.”

“Most advisors actually don’t do that. They don’t create a plan, they don’t follow the plan, and they don’t update the plan.”

It’s Dean’s passion for delivering on promises that has made his practice so successful, and he’s here to share his insights with you.

Below, we’re sharing three key ideas from this episode:

  • How Dean makes sure his services are worth the fees
  • How Dean identified his sweet spot of 125 clients
  • Planning social events to engage with prospects

For the rest of the episode, find the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or click the link above.

How Dean makes sure his services are worth the fees

Dean suspects there are advisors who don’t necessarily earn the high fees that they charge.

Sometimes this happens because they take on too many clients and can’t give anyone their full attention. Maybe it’s because they’re charging simply for assets under management regardless of how much work a particular client requires. Other times, people who call themselves wealth advisors, financial planners, or the like don’t offer the full set of planning and advising services their title or designation would suggest.

Following through on promises

For Dean, it comes down to always doing what you say you’re going to do. As a wealth advisor, he creates, follows, and updates financial plans for his clients, advising them on all aspects of their wealth.

This also means he reviews his clients’ plans every single quarter ‒ and he’s upfront with his clients as to how often this happens. Looking at the goals and targets, he measures them up against a simple goal tracker to plot their progress and see how close they are to reaching a particular financial goal (within a certain range, of course, to account for typical market fluctuations).

While he doesn’t meet with most clients every quarter, they can be at peace knowing that he’s monitoring their situation to make sure they’re on track to reach their goals.

Hint: More recently, Dean has made a habit of explaining to his clients what he does for them between meetings, and many appreciate hearing that he’s always keeping an eye on their progress behind the scenes.

How Dean identified his sweet spot of 125 clients

As mentioned above, one reason that some advisors can’t deliver on their promises is that they take on too many clients. This is why Dean has made it a point to take on no more than 125 clients at a time. Knowing his limits is an important strategy, but he came to the number with some pretty simple math.

First, he figured out how many weeks he works every year (he takes about 3‒4 weeks off every year for conferences and vacations).

Next, he divided his weeks into free days, buffer days (when he’s catching up on work, planning, or working on other aspects of his business), and focus days (when he’s actually meeting with clients). He also calculated how many clients he can reasonably see in one day.

Finally, he decided how frequently he needs to meet with each client; for most, three meetings a year does the trick, in addition to electronic follow-ups and updates throughout the year.

Putting all this together, he realized that if he serves more than 125 clients, he won’t be able to give them all the attention and level of service that he wants to deliver.

Hint: Dean has worked with coaches at a couple of points in his career to help him with strategic business planning. If you’re interested in learning more about driving business growth strategically, check out our episode with Chris Paterson on creating a solid business plan.

Planning social events to engage with prospects

Even with a strict limit on the number of clients he takes on, Dean and his team still have to do outreach to meet new people.

While referrals are a great source of new clients and social media marketing is becoming increasingly important, too, small events are a unique way of getting in front of prospects.

Dean invites current clients to what he calls “senses seminars.” These are fun events centered around the senses (sight, taste, smell, etc.) that also have a certain message that he wants to impart to his guests. He’s upfront with his clients that these events have two purposes: to thank them for being great clients and to help him meet new people.

One recent example was a cooking contest where groups of four competed in a gourmet cooking competition that included mixing two boxes of Kraft Dinner with high-end ingredients. The event tied into Dean’s message that “ingredients matter” in financial planning. And since each team typically included one couple that he currently works with, he also got to meet whoever that couple brought to compete with them.

Hint: To hear about another way you can do client appreciation events, listen to our show with Chris Rawles and Spencer Tilley about differentiating your practice from the big banks.

To hear more from Dean, including how he plans his clients’ business and personal finances, the steps he’s taking to turn his office into a lifestyle concierge service, and how he prices his services, listen to the full episode on this page or subscribe to the show on iTunes or Stitcher.

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