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A Low Tech Approach

More and more, advisors find that many clients want easy solutions that don't take up their time. No news there. But one Massachusetts-based Raymond James advisor is delivering a concrete solution for her customers. 

Speaking on a panel at the Raymond James conference in Dallas today, Carlie Dugan of Cornerstone Financial Partners says she grew frustrated when clients would say “I just wish that someone would wrap it up for me.” That’s what she thought she was doing, but her clients didn’t feel the same way.

A visit with a local estate attorney changed that. During the meeting, the attorney showed Dugan a leather-bound portfolio with strategies broken down and simplified in easy-to-understand nuggets.

So Dugan applied it to her own practice, developing a binder to give her top-tier clients that broke down her approach to saving and retirement planning into modules. In addition to biographies of the staff, a disclosure page and an investment policy questionnaire, she laid out individualized investment and retirement plans.

These binder sections start with a 1-page, high-level overview before delving into the “guts” of the plan, Dugan says. She also includes sections on risk management and estate planning, even providing clients with the opportunity to interview pre-selected attorneys.

“It’s a concrete deliverable that you can give to the client and it makes them feel secure,” she says.

The binders—which cost about $40 to pull together—have made a huge difference in her practice, Dugan says. Not only do they function as a great review instrament, but they also have become a great marketing tool for the firm.

Older clients have left these binders on the dining room table and in the study, where their children have run across them and called me up asking for a plan too, Dugan says.

When discussing investment strategies and the planning book with potential clients, they pay a flat fee—about $1,500 on average—for the plan. If they sign up for her services, she waives the fee.

“I shouldn’t jinx myself, but I haven’t lost a client yet,” Dugan says. In fact, her business is up 30 percent year over year. 

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