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#15: Client Service Roles and Responsibilities

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Why Your Client Service Team Is So Important For Growth

Leverage is more than a buzzword flitting around the business sphere. It is an important tool to help you create a clear and cohesive client experience, which you should know by now needs to be your top priority. 

Famous Greek mathematician, Archimedes, said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” While his words may be slightly inflated his point is crystal clear—leaverage allows you to accomplish far more than you can without it. 

One of the things you have to learn to leverage in your business is the roles and responsibilities of your team members who are in client service roles like paraplanners, client care coordinators, and more. 

Today, we are going to dive into these important roles and illustrate how to best leverage these roles to enhance your client’s experience and ultimately promote business growth. Ready for more? Let’s dive in.

All About Leveraging

In our business leverage means to delegate work from a senior professional to one or more of the associates who are qualified to complete the assignment. The result is not only increased capacity for the senior professional but also better economics for the firm. This definition comes from Philip Palaveev’s book, The Ensemble Practice.

What is an ensemble practice?

Palaveev’s idea of the ensemble practice is a group of people, or team approach, to service offerings and business models. This philosophy informs the way that we approach serving clients. In practice, this means that the clients work with multiple professionals in our business like their wealth partner, financial advisor, paraplanner, and client care coordinator to name a few. 

There are also many service professionals working behind the scenes like the central investment team who manages client’s investment portfolios, project managers who keep the work flowing, and compliance which is always running in the background to ensure fairness and accuracy. 

All of these professionals perform some functions that are done by financial advisors in solo or silo practices. What makes us different is our team approach. The clients aren’t just working with one person. They get a team of professionals helping them achieve their goals and execute the client experience matrix.

How does an ensemble practice differ from other types of firms? 

An ensemble practice operates in a completely different way than many other firms out there—solo and silo are the top two. What is the difference between solo and silo practices? 

Solo practices are often single advisor perhaps joined by one or two assistants who do all the work together. Silo practices, on the other hand, are firms with multiple advisors, but each retains their own group of clients and staff. They might share a common space or a central service like reception, but as a whole, each advisor runs as a separate profit and loss center.

Leverage works best in an ensemble 

When we talk about leverage, it is important to know how it functions and the benefits of it. By implementing this philosophy in our firm, the lead advisor has more freedom and flexibility to do the work they love and are really good at because there are other professionals to help carry the load and take roles like scheduling appointments, crafting the financial plan, transferring funds, or processing a rollover. All of these tasks can be taken care of by other people, freeing up the lead advisor’s time to find new clients, implement important steps in a client’s plan, and grow the business. 

Another benefit of this system is that the tasks are done by people who do them really well. They are experts in their field, providing additional confidence in the work they do. This elevates the quality of the work being done as well as the client experience. We always talk about the client experience is important, and when you have people doing roles they are good at and enjoy, you will be able to deliver an exceptional experience. 

Client Service Roles Come From Your Service Matrix

Now that you have an understanding of what a leveraged ensemble is and how it works, it is time to look at the different roles within that space. 

  • Wealth Partner
    • They maintain client relationships, provide advice on major financial decisions, and seek to gather more assets. They also work to extend the firm’s mission by providing optimum service and thereby promote referrals and mentor financial advisors who are on track for partnership.
  • Financial Advisor
    • Financial advisors manage less complicated relationships and collaborate with wealth partners in more complicated households. They update financial plan inputs, suggest investment changes, and assist in the analysis, all at the direction of the partner. Financial advisors also answer basic questions and complete service requests.
  • Paraplanner
    • Paraplanners are responsible for all the account level information requests. They prepare information for goal review meetings. They meet with clients to review beneficiaries, banking arrangements, online access, and more. Paraplanners are the ultimate client communicators and ensure clients have everything they need. 
  • Client Care Coordinator
    • The heart of the office, client care coordinators run and manage the goal review process, direct inbound phone calls, manage address changes, schedule meetings, while also handling logistics for social events and marketing activities. 
  • Operations Specialist
    • They have similar responsibilities as paraplanners but are for a specific set of the firm’s clients.

For us at CX Institutional, these roles come from our client service matrix. This tool can help you build the team that you need too. By using the matrix as a guide, you can create and train the right team of professionals to best serve your clients. 

Once you know the experience you want to deliver, you can determine which roles need to be included. This helps you assign tasks to each professional and ensure that every person is using their strengths and talents. You can decide then which tasks are done by lead advisors and which ones should be done by the paraplanners or client care coordinator. 

You might be wondering why we are talking about individual roles as opposed to the people who fill them. The word role is used intentionally because the person who fills the role might change but the responsibilities remain the same. For example, let’s say Lucy is a paraplanner assigned to the Smith household. Mrs. Smith calls and requests that $5,000 be liquidated from their account. Lucy assists her with this and all is well. But if Lucy gets promoted, her role is now filled by Bob and it would be him who assists Mrs. Smith next time, not Lucy. 

If the responsibilities were tied to a specific person instead of a role, that person could never get promoted and the firm will be unable to function if Lucy had to leave her job or if she’s out on vacation. It’s also important that each role have a backup. In fact, we’ve found that we really need at least three people in each client service role to provide adequate coverage for illness, maternity leave, or vacations. This way your business is covered and your clients still retain the excellent level of service that you designed. 

With so many moving pieces how does everyone remember what they are supposed to do and who accomplishes which tasks? It all comes down to the right systems and processes. We actually have technology that programs rollover requests to go directly to the assigned paraplanner. Our technology assigns roles directly to the people who need to complete the task which eliminates confusion and double work.

Roles And The Client Experience

The client experience is complex and you need to think through a lot of things to get it right like the professionals assigned to deliver the service, roles, and responsibilities within that, processes, and systems to maintain consistency, and technology to make it function. The experience, then, is the culmination of all these elements. 

The ensemble functions properly when each role is maximized for talent, quality, and efficiency. This helps deliver the client experience that keeps people coming back and helps build a sustainable practice. 

If you are interested in learning more about a leveraged ensemble, please download our white paper called the Super Power of a Leveraged Ensemble. It goes into a little more detail on how the leverage ensemble actually allows each advisor to function more effectively. Linked below! 

Further reading