The Art of the Meeting

I have been doing a lot of meetings lately across Australia catching up with some long-lost colleagues, new players in the industry and what I love, those who really want to attack the SMSF strategy side of the business with gusto.  As you can expect when I see SMSF passion in someone’s eyes, a lot of fun is to be had.  There is no limit on the amount, size or scope of the strategies we can discuss, strategise and build for most situations.  It is a pure mix of passion, creativity and of course, knowing the law and the Regulator.

Anyway, I have been asking how advisers plan, prepare and present at a meeting.  There are a lot of different techniques, so I thought I would give you my guide to the “Art of the Meeting”.

Step One:  Set up the Meeting

Frame up the meeting and make it focused.  Don’t back end it on a meeting about their tax liabilities.  Now if you are an accountant and they are used to you beating them around the head about BAS/GST and getting returns on time then you need to frame the meeting up properly.  It has to be a BIG emotional or strategy meeting to get the frame right.  For example:

“Bill, I have been working with you for a long time as your accountant and probably not doing enough to show you how we have protected some of our clients’ SMSFs by putting in place strategies to secure any membership, wealth transfer and distributions to bloodline only.  Most of our clients want to ensure that their SMSF and for that matter, all their wealth, is for family bloodline only.  Does that interest you?”

Now if Bill says yes, then book an appointment.  And please, make sure you confirm the appointment and what it is about the day before so that you are not wasting your time waiting for a no-show.

Step Two: Set an Objective

This is so important.  If you don’t have a goal, the meeting will go nowhere.  Importantly, it is impossible to know where the client stands on anything (am I right).  But it is crucial for you to set an objective.  Mine is always to get to an agreement on working together and making sure that any agreement is secured with a killer deal for both parties.  It should always be win-win.

If you are doing a Family bloodline restructure, then the goal should be to get to an agreement to do a restructure for the client at an agreed fee for service.

Step Three: Present at the Meeting

Here’s the biggest tip or hack I can give you.  A meeting is a presentation.  Pure and simple.  So make sure that you present and treat it as a presentation.  For that we need some basic presentation skills.

First up, get into rapport with the client by talking about their family.  Engage.  Find out about the black sheep, the golden child and who is financially smart, who is living with the wrong person and so on.  People love talking about their family so get your best Hercule Poirot on.  This will give you clues on where to keep the wealth from going – the whole idea of Family bloodline planning.

Next up is to use a whiteboard and put down the family tree on the left-hand side of the whiteboard.  In the middle and to the right put all of their financial structures and assets.  Once that is done, ask them if the picture on the Board is correct.

The next step is affirm the purpose of the meeting: “Now Bill, you told me that ensuring that your wealth goes to your family bloodline is important to you.  Can you tell me on a scale of 1 to 10 where you would be.”

Once Bill has done that, and if his spouse is with him, affirm the same with his spouse.

Then the BIG move:

Turn to the whiteboard, look solemnly at Bill and spouse, and ask the following:

“In the event that you both died yesterday, how do your assets pass to your family bloodline only.”

There are two responses:

  1. We don’t know, and you will see that from the quizzical or concerned looks on their faces.

With this one you need to get them to take a deep breath and then start working through each structure and asset to start planning how and to which bloodline beneficiaries things will pass.  Of course, there is a lot in this but have a look at my three-hour estate planning webinar recording and family bloodline webinar to find out.  If you don’t have access to this, please contact Daniel – or 0422 509 217.

  1. My lawyer has drafted up our will.

Show them the Commissioner’s ruling SMSFD 2008/3 that states the will drafted by the lawyer does not deal with the SMSF rather it is the SMSF deed and governing rules that do that.  Then ask them did the lawyer tell you that?

Then do the same as in 1. above and get to work on the whiteboard.

Step Four: Get the Work and set Timelines

The process above will shake up 90% of clients so they will want things sorted straight away.  Assume that they want a Family bloodline Restructure.  Give them timelines to complete, a draft implementation plan (using the whiteboard) and then tell them the fees payable at each stage.

Step Five: Deal with Objections

There are a couple of objections that could come up.

“That is too expensive.” 

Response: “That’s fine Bill.  Which assets shall we secure to your family bloodline and which do you want to leave open to a challenge by non-bloodline.”

“I have to discuss it with my lawyer.”

Response: “That’s fine Bill but as the Commissioner of Taxation has said, and you saw that, your lawyer can’t help you with a will.  In fact, they have left you hanging right here, right now.  If you want to really protect your wealth and give the most to your family bloodline and leave a legacy, let’s get to work now.”

The Wrap

There is a lot more I can tell you and for those on our Family SMSF Adviser program I am happy to do a few meetings with you to show you how I do it.  It is all about presenting, showing our SMSF passion and above all, making our clients’ SMSFs family bloodline-proof and leaving a legacy for their family.

P.S.  Our sister company LightYear Docs will soon be releasing a Family bloodline Upgrade system for both Family Trusts and also SMSFs to Family bloodline Family Trusts and Family bloodline SMSFs.  Watch out for these and if you want to be first in, contact Daniel (see his details above).