Have your paperwork prepared in advance of your meetings

By Katherine Vessenes

Vestment Advisors


Using this system, I can do all the investment paperwork for multiple accounts and duplicate insurance applications in less than 10 minutes.

For those of you who have been following my thoughts on easy, effortless sales, you know it is the nuances that make the difference. Each nuance is like a domino. When you carefully lined up all the dominos in your sale process, you can push the first one over, and the last one, closing the sale, will also fall.

Today’s domino: Have your paperwork completed in advance of your meetings.

I never considered the importance of filling out a client’s paperwork in advance of the meeting until I watched multi-million dollar producers go from meeting to meeting, with very little prep time in between. Some of these advisors where seeing 12 new prospects a week! It was crucial that this process was as efficient as possible so they could see more prospects and clients and make more money. This simple step was one of the many reasons I was able to bring on more than clients in our target market in 18 months.

One of the things my team does for me is to make sure I show up with all the paperwork I will need for a particular meeting. Because these meetings are carefully planned in advance, I always know what the recommendations will be. Therefore, I can come with the right paperwork every time. We never wing it. To take it a step further, to save time for me and for the client, I never come with blank paperwork. The paperwork is filled out in advance. If you are lucky enough to have a team like I do, the team will do it for you. If you are solo, you can still do this step in advance.

In fact, when we sometimes have two alternative suggestions for a client — knowing they will only choose one — my team fills out both sets in advance. We then shred the forms that are not used after the meeting. This can save us an extra meeting.

Once I am in the paperwork meeting, I make sure the client quickly reviews the applications and then signs at the appropriate spots. This is important for agents/advisors who are making insurance recommendations; those forms are particularly long and overwhelming.
This system made total sense to me once I saw it in action. I remembered the days of taking 20 minutes to go through a single application. It could take an hour if you had a lot of accounts. As I asked the clients the same questions over and over, I could practically hear their thoughts:
    “Why am I doing this?”
    “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
    “I am afraid!”
As I painstakingly went through each form and filled in each answer in front of the client, I knew they were becoming bored and worse, worried. It was so time-consuming that I felt the clients were going to talk themselves out of my recommendations before I finished the forms. Plus, this was valuable time I could spend with other clients.

Some advisors do the presentation part of the meeting and then have an assistant or junior advisor take the client into another room to complete the paperwork, while the senior advisor is off to their next meeting.

When I am working at our satellite office in Rhode Island, I can’t do that, since my staff is all at our home office in Minnesota.

Here is the nitty-gritty on how we make this efficient in our practice, even when I am doing meetings by myself:

1. We have an excellent intake form, designed by our COO. It not only covers everything needed for our financial planning software, it also includes data needed for insurance applications and investment paperwork. Key items include:
    a. Social Security number
    b. Driver’s license info
    c. Salary
    d. Net worth
    e. Job title
    f. Important health questions
2. Getting the health questions is an important part of our first meeting, but it can be intrusive. I wait until the end of our first meeting, where we are doing data intake, and I say this: “You know we might be able to save you some money on your insurance. Would it be OK if I asked you about your health because that can have a big impact on the cost of your insurance?” I have never had anyone say no to this question.
3. Here are a few of the key health questions we document in that first meeting:
    a. Are you currently on any medications? If yes, I get more info.
    b. Have you had any surgeries or major illnesses in the last five years? If yes, I explore further.
    c. Do you suffer from ADD, depression or anxiety, or have you had any counseling? (These questions are key issues for disability insurance.)
    d. Have you seen a chiropractor in the last five years? (This is also important for disability insurance.)
4. We try to use software to make this process easier. Unfortunately, many of our insurance companies haven’t realized how much time this would save their agent/advisors. The insurance apps are largely filled out by hand.

5. At the recommendations meeting, we usually take insurance applications. My excellent team has these forms pre-filled with the information I got during the data intake. Occasionally, we are missing a few key pieces of info and they use a special flagging system of sticky notes, so I can ask just a few quick questions and fill in the missing information. All the places for signatures are carefully flagged: blue for the men, pink for the women and green for me.

6. I always explain to clients what they are signing and give them an overview of the paperwork. (This page allows the insurance company to test for AIDS. This page allows them to reach out to your doctor for your medical records. This explains the fee structure that we discussed earlier, etc.) In the case of the insurance applications, I explain that they are not committing to anything at this point. We are just getting bids from the insurance company to see if this will work for them. We don’t ask for a deposit to go in with the application. Most clients just whip through the paperwork and sign on the lines that need signatures.

7. Occasionally, we have clients who were taught to carefully read every single thing they sign. I just smile and say:,Great. Take your time. If you come across something you don’t understand, let me know and I will explain it to you.”

8. We can literally get through one application in a minute or less.

Although we spend hours explaining the ins and outs of certain insurance products or our investment philosophy, I don’t think it is necessary to spend the same amount of time filling out the forms.

Using this system, I can do all the investment paperwork for multiple accounts and duplicate insurance applications in less than 10 minutes. Next week, I will be in our satellite Rhode Island office, without any staff assisting me there. This system will allow me to have 20 client/prospect meetings, all by myself.