What part of the report takes the most time?

Hi everyone,

I always spend longer on the circumstances and objectives of the client than anywhere else in the report. I don't necessarily mean from a pure time taken point of view, but in terms of thinking time, this is always the most time consuming.

I often find that once I've got this done, the standard approaches I've developed to the rest (detailing the recommendation, producing a replacement business analysis, etc) always just fall into place.

I'm interested in where other people struggle, and why you think it's happening.

For me, I always find it difficult to get into an adviser's head and get those circumstances and objectives on to the page. I imagine that if I was in the meeting, this would be far easier. I also think it's easier for me to do the rest because of my experience and qualifications.

How about you guys? If you whizz through the bit I don't, what's your secret?

Benjamin Fabi FPFS
Chartered Financial Planner



  • The areas I spend the most time/effort on are:

    1. Objectives
    2. Why* we are recommending what we are
    3. The disadvantages* to what we're recommending
    4. Formatting and general tidying up of the report
    • Personalised, not simply generic reasons why or risk warnings

    I agree that the objectives generally take the longest and/or require the most thought, but this very much depends on the quality and detail provided by the adviser's factfind/meeting notes. Sometimes you literally only get a factfind with hard facts, in which case you need to spend time debriefing the adviser to understand the objectives. Other times, you get really detailed objectives and soft facts which you can almost cut and paste straight into the report.

    I don't believe paraplanners should be the ones putting together the objectives. In my view the ideal scenario, and the approach I am aiming to implement at our firm, is one where the adviser uses all their skills to really get to the bottom of what the client's current situation is (KYC) and where they are trying to get to (objectives). The adviser would then document their findings by drafting 'SMART' objectives (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound). Ideally, the adviser shouldn't try to 'lead' the advice/solution at this point by suggesting particular products/providers, because I believe the paraplanner is usually in a better position to more objectively consider the options (because they have less bias as to the outcome).

    With SMART objectives, it is easy for the paraplanner to then carry out research and analysis and come up with solutions that meet the client's objectives. They would then summarise their findings via a short, personalised Suitability Report. The adviser then checks the report, making any suggestions/changes as required and presents this to the client.

    Jonny (paraflex)
  • That's the same area I spend most thinking time on - and yes, once I've got that, the rest of the report does seem to flow quite nicely.

    I always try and get the team here to put together the objectives - if they've not managed to get that out of the advisers head at the post meeting pp/adviser meeting, then that's something to work on. We generally find though that the adviser picks up on the client's own words and changes are made to reflect that in the report when it goes to them for checking/sign off.

    I like post-it notes. They help me with the flow of the report so that I can change them around before I even start putting pen to paper.

  • JonaJona Member

    Yes the same. The most time consuming area is understanding the client's objectives and softer facts.

    It comes down to adviser fact finding skill and efficiency at the end of the day.

    We've adopted an approach that after each key stage of the advice process (such as post FF, post cash flow meeting, post any other significant discussions) it is the advisers responsibility to debrief the paraplanner.

    Ensuring all client / adviser correspondence is present on the file is also a good one. I've lost count of the amount of times that the adviser has a key soft fact in their head or on an email that never finds it's way onto the file the detail of which makes the whole case slot into logical place.... v annoying.

    I make sure I regularly educate the advisers and re-enforce the need for a complete file. I try to highlight that the time it takes to upload a few emails to our CRM is significantly less, for all concerned, than paraplanner badgering the adviser and re-writes of reports after compliance see it.

  • Current situation and objectives leading into how the recommendations will help the client achieve those objectives. If the first two are of poor quality, the third is very difficult!

    I share @Jona 's pain. The amount of useful stuff that lurks in email exchanges or in the advisers' brain can be very frustrating.

  • Piecing together the history for existing clients, multiple email exchanges. It also takes ages sometimes to look at the history from past Reports and meeting notes to fully understand who the clients are. Advisers are getting better at post-meeting notes as I've got these templated with sub-headings to help the flow and getting the key details out of their heads and on paper. They are bullet pointing objectives now which helps masses. We also have pp and adviser discussions before starting reports.

    My time vampire is us not having a straight forward 'go-to' for provider/platform and underlying investment strategy. With 3 sets of advisers each with their own historic client books combining, we have multiples of each to pick from. I am pushing the investment committee on reducing DFMs and MPS options, and also got some of the others to start a platform review! Hopefully life will get simpler soon...
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