Apart from completing the Observation Form, there are a number of other aspects which although appear obvious and are often taken for granted or even ignored that, from a best practice perspective, a T&C Supervisor should look out for.
Let’s start with pre-meeting preparation. There is nothing worse than turning up late for a client meeting. The adviser should have checked the location of the meeting for access and parking so that on arrival they are not delayed by finding the road is a one way street or that all the parking is residents only and the nearest car park is who knows where. If not driving, the adviser should have checked how far it is from the nearest rail station or bus stop.
Travel time is important as well. The adviser should check how long the journey takes, by whatever means of transport being used, and allow additional time in case of delays. Especially if travelling at peak times or from another client meeting. It’s also worth checking the location of café’s so that in the event of an early arrival you’re not sitting in the car or trying to find shelter from the rain and, just as important, somewhere that can facilitate comfort breaks, because there’s nothing worse than asking a client if you can use their bathroom before the meeting even starts!
What questions did they ask when setting up the meeting, have they looked up the client on social media
If the meeting is not being held in the clients’ private house, has the adviser checked what facilities are available at the meeting venue? If the meeting is at the client’s place of work, is there a private place or meeting room that can be used. The staff canteen is obviously not a good place to discuss private financial matters. The same applies if the meeting is held at a hotel. Cafes and bars are obviously not acceptable, but a quiet corner in the hotel lobby or lounge is reasonably safe, but not ideal.
Research is also very important. What does the adviser know about the client before meeting them for the first time? What questions did they ask when setting up the meeting, have they looked up the client on social media, and if the client was a referral, have they asked the person making the referral for some information? If the client is a business owner, has the adviser checked for any information on the business, including what type of suppliers and customers are likely to use the business?
Meeting time-keeping is often overlooked. Hopefully the adviser will have agreed a timeframe for the meeting in advance, so the supervisor should be keeping an eye on the time and checking if the adviser is in control. If the meeting is likely to overrun, does the adviser check with the client that they can continue past the agreed time and, just as important, provide some indication of how much longer will be needed?
Does the adviser focus on the client, or do they focus on the process? This applies to both a first meeting and to a presentation meeting. Some advisers will spend some time discussing the clients’ objectives before bringing out the fact find, others will bring the fact find out at the earliest opportunity.