Advisor adapting the process for a young doctor

Co-create onboarding

You want more engaged clients. We have seen that involving clients and co-creating the experience of working with you raises engagement. How can you provide that participatory experience and realize benefits as early in the relationship as possible? Co-create the experience from the start. Give clients a voice in their onboarding.

A Client Driven Practice orients services around the client’s needs and preferences. Discover what they want and customize what you do in response.

Forward thinking firms involve clients in the design of the experience of working together. It may be as simple as reaching out in advance of a review meeting to design the agenda together. It could be letting clients choose how often they meet with you and whether it be in person, by phone, or by video. Or it may be as extensive as engaging clients in developing your service mix.

Looking forward, co-creation may include the role of videoconferencing technology like zoom. This year we have been asking client advisory boards what ongoing role they want virtual meetings to play in the advisory relationship after the pandemic is over. You might be surprised at what we have heard. While the majority unsurprisingly prefer in person meetings at least once per year, many clients envision meeting by video at least some of the time. Some clients even prefer it for all meetings because of the convenience.

The earlier you begin involving clients the better. You can actually do it right from the start. Co-create the onboarding experience.

It can be a bit tricky. Your unique niche experience differentiates you and is the basis of your brand. Look for ways to involve clients that maintain brand integrity.

For example, your planning process may involve addressing a series of topics: cash flow, risk management, portfolio design, tax planning, etc. Could you be flexible about the order in which some of those are addressed?

Could you give clients the opportunity to choose how to submit information to prepare a financial plan? What would they find most convenient – bring in or send you statements, enter information themselves through an interface like PreciseFP, or connect their accounts through an aggregation system like the one incorporated into eMoney?

Do you need all the information at once or can you ask for information necessary for the next step in the planning process? In some advisory board meetings, clients recall the stress and anxiety they experienced at some steps of the process, usually associated with the perceived amount of work involved in gathering records.

Clients reflect how other steps early in the process are positive and significant. Some have even become emotional recalling conversations about values and money experiences. How valuable would it be to know the good and bad to leverage that knowledge and evolve the process?

Consider incorporating feedback into onboarding. Find out what they are looking forward to and where there is resistance. Find areas where you can be flexible and offer clients some ownership in the experience. Follow-up with some questions about what was valuable and what was difficult.

Providing the best possible experience early on can pay big dividends. Clients tend to talk with friends about you more often at the beginning of your relationship because it is on their minds. It’s novel. They invest more time with you as they work through the planning process. So providing a more rewarding experience up front can yield more referrals.

Co-creation of the client experience is an important trend in the evolution of financial advice. And you can engage clients in developing it with you right from the start.


Engage your best clients virtually to discover what’s on their minds and how to make your service more valuable. Download our free list of seven ways to make your virtual client advisory board a success.

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