Making the Most of Annual Financial Planning Reviews

Financial Planning Annual ReviewHow to Make the Most of Your Financial Planning Clients’ Annual Reviews

Client annual reviews are a critical part of the financial planning process and must be completed on at least a yearly basis. The annual review is vitally important because it provides the opportunity to measure a client’s progress and performance against their financial plan of action and other benchmarks and make adjustments accordingly. Moreover, since our personal lives and financial situations as well as the current economic climate are rarely static, the annual review is a time for financial advisors to look at any changes in the past year — changes such as the birth of a child, death of a loved one, marriage or divorce, a new job, any major purchases, and etc. — and readjust the client’s financial plan accordingly.

  • Make sure it happens: Financial plans are not set-and-forget/make-and-flake/store-and-ignore documents. Impart to your clients that an annual financial review is just as important as your annual medical appointments—it’s not something you always want to go do, but that doesn’t mean it’s not critical for your wellbeing. Try sending out reminder “you’re due for your annual review” postcards or emails to existing clients to prompt them to schedule their annual review.
  • Schedule annual reviews for the beginning of the year: When’s the best time to conduct an annual review? The most important thing is that it happens at all. But keep in mind that timing is important and can make the annual review more relevant, comprehensive, and efficient. The beginning of the New Year is typically the optimal time for the review not only because the New Year signifies a new start but also because new and amended federal and state tax laws, estate laws, and fiscal laws that could affect your financial planning may have come into play.
  • Better organization = better annual review: It is increasingly difficult to conduct an accurate and time-efficient annual review when your client’s financial planning documents are in a disorganized state of disarray. As discussed in the Summit blog “to simplify and streamline organization for both you and your clients, put together a client binder for each client. This binder should contain primary financial documents as well as other relevant documents. Also consider sending your clients an annual review checklist that lists what documents and information the client will need for the review. For example, the checklist might state:

Since our last review, I have: ◌Had a baby ◌Acquired/Lost insurance coverage …

I’m interested in discussing at my annual review: ◌College Funding ◌Annual gifting …

For your annual review, try to furnish photocopies of: ◌Mortgage statement ◌Employee benefits statement …

  • Face-to-face in-person meetings are best: As mentioned above, the most important thing is that the meeting happens at all; but if there is a choice, strongly encourage your clients to do an in-person annual review as opposed to an annual review over the phone or via video conference. An in-person meeting fosters a sense of loyalty and trust and makes your clients feel more comfortable and open with you, which is vital since the more forthcoming the client is with details about their financial health, the more accurate and effective the annual review will be.

For more information on Summit Brokerage Services, visit or contact us at (800) 354-5528. Let Summit Brokerage Services show you why they are ranked the No. 1 Independent Boutique Broker Dealer in the Country.

Summit Brokerage Services is part of Cetera Financial Group, RCS Capital Corporation’s (NYSE: RCAP) retail investment advice platform.

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