Your 7-Part Advisor Framework To Nail Every Client Meeting

Posted on 2nd March 2017 in Advisory

Written by James Marren

Adam Davy is the Head of Advisory for BDO New Zealand. This 7 part framework is his fail-safe way to run a meeting with a client. As an advisor, his experience confirms that these questions always identify your next move. A client will either want to make more money, pay less tax, have more time to themselves or exit the business. What they need from you is a plan to help them achieve their goals. BDO New Zealand uses FUTRLI as part of the process to tangibly illustrate what the business plan needs to be, and then they action it. In this blog, we summarise a webinar with Adam, which you can catch up on too.

The background 

Fifteen years ago, Adam was a tax partner, who had a vision for FUTRLI. He was seeking a scientific approach, which focused on KPIs, to act as the linchpin for all conversations with his clients about their business. This seven-part framework has been developed thanks to years of trial and error with software…and clients! This blog has been written thanks to a webinar, which you can watch as an alternative to reading this.

Watch the webinar

The Process Before The Framework

Calling your client up and asking them seven key questions will not make you their advisor, they might even think there is something wrong. Instead, use this framework as a way to completely forget the idea that you are selling to your clients. Of course, you could be and the purpose of this exercise is to give you a guide that identifies their pain points but, we are not there yet, so let’s take a step back and review step one.

“With my most valuable clients, I would give them a courtesy call and offer to come out to meet with them for free. I’d explain that I’d love the opportunity to get to know how they operate better and the fact this is offered for free means there is no reason for them to say no.”

Step two is, of course, that all important meeting…

“When you’re there it’s important to listen, build rapport and pay attention to their key pain points. You need to be like a soothsayer and, knowing that everyone has similar issues, will help with your preparation process.

You need to be ready to explore their business so you need modern technology to help you. When the client sees visuals of their real-time data, they start to get it and based on the trust they already have for you, the relationship naturally turns from accountant towards advisor. Clients really want this sort of help!”

The 7 Part Framework

We can all agree that financial data is fundamental to business survival, however, it may not be a client’s main concern and that is what you are really there to explore.This framework will guide your conversation. How is business really going…

“It might be something as simple as their or a family member’s health or the spouse coming back and saying he’s never got time for the kids, always grumpy etc. So, I always start with the following question…’Where do you see you are going to be in 5/10 yrs time?’ 

It’s not officially part of the framework but it is surprising how few people have thought about this and understand what they actually want to do. It’s a question that gets them to think and opens them to the following 7 key areas of questioning that cover everything needed to establish the client’s main pain points and how we can help them.”

Before a meeting, Adam and his team would create a Dashboard in FUTRLI so that he knows what their numbers are before the meeting. He uses the questions above to get the conversation flowing and validate any trends he identified in the figures. These are not static so you don’t have to ask them in this order but this is one way that makes sense for you and your client.

Question 1: What are their goals and what strategy are they executing?
Question 2: What is their business structure and is it suitable for that business model?
Question 3: How are their reporting on business performance and monitoring this?

“This is where our skill base lies and where we can really add value.”

Question 4: What management and governance are in place?

“I need to understand their role in the business. They might be the Owner, Director, Manager and/or Worker, but they have to wear different hats for each role. You cannot grow if you do it all yourself and in fact it disengages you with your staff – the ones with the ability. So I often ask if they have thought about someone in the business to help out in the areas we, typically, uncover.”

Question 5: What is their exit strategy and do they have a successor?

“When do they want to retire? Getting them to understand that if they want to get the most out of the business they need to identify success’. The whole point of this is they need to think about what they’ve got as a business and not a vehicle they are playing around in. Otherwise, it can get too late and they risk the business itself.”

Question 6: Do you like paying tax?

We are kidding with that question, of course. As Adam confirms…“No one likes paying the maximum amount of tax, so that’s an easy conversation. However, I expect it is an area you are already supporting them with”.

Question 7: What are your personal ambitions?

“This is the most powerful question you can ask. For example, finding out that the husband and wife have never been to Europe despite making a lot of money and are working hard for years. They just haven’t sorted their succession and they haven’t ever worried about themselves. And often you find out that they aren’t happy in their business and so you have to find out what they are doing it for.

Because they trust us and know we know the figures you can help either way. You know whether they can afford the trip and if not, you can identify what they need to do to their numbers to make it happen.”

Why would you encourage others to try FUTRLI?

“My aim when I set out was to have fewer clients, which I have now, but I’ve grown the fee-size for each client substantially. There was resistance initially until they realised they had access to real-life advice. What they want is someone who understands the business, understands the data and can react fast so they get better access to that advice.”

Try this framework with your clients 

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