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Kevin Greenard: Meeting frequency with clients

When we first meet with potential clients, we will typically have four meetings in the first month. These meetings are done to gather information, share information, open accounts, and complete any required forms.
Kevin Greenard

When we first meet with potential clients, we will typically have four meetings in the first month. These meetings are done to gather information, share information, open accounts, and complete any required forms. The following is typical of the first four meetings.

The first meeting

The first introduction meeting is typically in person and is meant to get to know one another. We encourage questions. Prior to this meeting we will send some preliminary information about our team and encourage people to also visit our website.

Some of the questions we will ask will relate to your past investment experience and your current financial situation. During the meeting we will request that you send us copies of your current investment account statements provided we feel we can assist you.

In this first meeting we provide an overview of the Managed Portfolio Program (MPP) and outline our fee structure and agreement. We also explain the structure of an Investment Policy Statement (IPS) and the important components within it.

We will also provide you with a new client information form that will request information such as social insurance number, date of birth, home address, employment information, etc. We will also provide a professional checklist and a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) representative form to take away.

The second meeting

After we have been provided with the background information (i.e. existing account statements) requested in the first meeting, we can schedule the second meeting. We typically need three to five days to review any investment statements provided to prepare for the second meeting. It takes several days to prepare The Greenard Group Analysis, which is the basis for the second meeting. In fact, just reviewing this analysis will take approximately 50 per cent of this meeting. The other half of the meeting is spent reviewing the draft Investment Policy Statement, Managed Portfolio Program Fee Agreement, and answering any further questions that you may have.

This meeting will clarify the specific types of accounts to open. We also discuss how investments can be transferred. Proprietary investments at another firm must be transferred in cash. Non-proprietary investments may be transferred in-kind (as they currently are).

Ideally, the new client checklist that was provided in the first meeting has now been completed, representative form(s) signed, and we obtain as much of the professional checklist information that is currently available.

The third meeting

Several phone calls and emails are typically exchanged after the second meeting. The third meeting is scheduled after we have opened accounts, finalized the Investment Policy Statement and Managed Portfolio Program Fee Agreement. During this meeting we have also prepared all of the transfer forms for each account that the client must sign to move the investments either in cash or in-kind. Transfers can take anywhere from three days to two weeks.

During this meeting we introduce elements of the model portfolio and discuss the structure of accounts.

The fourth meeting

Once the transfers are completed, we will schedule a meeting to discuss the process of getting the funds invested. We discuss the various sectors, geographic exposure, currency exchange rates, structure of accounts (i.e. optimal position size, rebalancing position size), taxation of investment income, and discuss the specific companies we will be invested in.

In this meeting, many clients will ask, “How often will we meet?” This is a great question and has several components that we have discussed below.

Periodic reviews

The most common meeting that is scheduled is a periodic review. The frequency of these meetings are typically quarterly, semi-annual, or annual. What we naturally find is that new clients may like the idea of meeting quarterly initially but after some time, the meeting frequency typically changes to semi-annual or annual. Our team proactively reaches out to schedule the periodic reviews based on our discussions.

During the periodic review we will typically cover the following: upcoming cash flow needs, registered account limits and recommended contributions, review of current holdings, rebalancing discussion, confirm asset mix, confirm objectives and risk tolerance, and discuss any strategic and tactical changes to the model portfolio.

Non-periodic meeting

At any point in time our clients may phone and schedule a meeting. Life events such as health issues, death in the family, marital change, etc. are all reasons to meet in a timely manner. Significant deposits from selling real estate or receiving an inheritance or if you require significant withdrawals for purchasing real estate, buying other major assets (i.e. vehicle, boat), landscaping or home renovating costs. Our business clients often have transfers, significant transactions, that trigger a non-periodic meeting.

Phone versus meeting in person

As every year goes by, more and more of our periodic meetings are being done over the phone. The benefit is that the clients can choose where they would like us to call them. This can be at home, at work, or anywhere you have reception. We confirm which number to call (i.e. home, work, or cell) when phone meetings are scheduled. Couples who are in different locations during the day have the option of a conference call.

With conference calls, the advisor acts as the moderator. We provide the participants (our clients) the conference call phone number and access pin after the number is dialled. The moderator and all participants get an email invitation with the phone in details and the date and time. Family members can be in different locations and we can still very easily connect.

Another benefit of phone meetings is that the material may be provided the day before utilizing secure share – a component of Scotiaonline. When clients have received the documents, they are typically more prepared to have a productive meeting.

Some clients prefer a mixture of phone and in person meetings. If a client would like a semi-annual meeting schedule, then one meeting can be on the phone and the other meeting can be in person.

Wet signatures

Most documents these days can be signed electronically; however, some documents require an original signature. Some of the account documents must also be witnessed. A couple of examples are setting up financial Power of Attorney on account(s) and changing beneficiaries on registered accounts. When wet signatures are required, we can either mail the forms or arrange an in-person meeting.

Meeting with other team members

It is often not necessary to meet with the lead Portfolio Manager for all requests. Meeting with another team member is often recommended, depending on the purpose. Examples of this are setting up online access, assistance reading the statements, processing donations in-kind, bringing smaller cheques in, picking up US dollar cheques, changing information (i.e. email address, updating mailing address, bank account modifications, change in employment, or any other administrative request.

Encourage questions

Prior to any meeting, whether on the phone or in-person, we encourage our clients to share the information that they want to talk about. This ensures that the team member scheduling the meeting will add the item(s) to the meeting agenda. For example, if you are planning to withdraw some funds, or deposit some funds, this would be useful to know when the meeting is scheduled so we can map out any trades prior to the meeting.

Meeting time

Meeting times can vary from 15 minutes to two hours, depending on the purpose of the meeting. Clients who are wishing to meet every three months will typically have a shorter meeting than clients with semi-annual or annual frequency.

Location of in-person meetings

Most in person meetings take place in our office for our Victoria clients. For our clients that are outside of Victoria, meetings can be held wherever the client is most comfortable. The most common location is the closest Scotiabank location to where our clients live. For our clients who are aging or lack mobility, we will arrange home visits. Coffee shops and restaurants are also options if our clients are busy and this fits into their schedule the best.

Kevin Greenard CPA CA FMA CFP CIM is a Portfolio Manager and Director, Wealth Management with The Greenard Group at Scotia Wealth Management in Victoria. His column appears every week at timescolonist.com. Call 250-389-2138, email greenard.group@scotiawealth.com or visit greenardgroup.com/secondopinion