A 40-Step Plan to Bring on a New Client

Yes, my new client on-boarding process includes 40 steps. And many of the steps include sub-steps.

There’s no need to describe all 40 today. If you would like the complete checklist, send me an email and I will forward a copy to you.

But I will share some of the less standard steps, so you can decide if you would like to incorporate any of them into your on-boarding process.

Prospect status

Step #1 – Check the do not call (DNC) registry. Even if your prospect came to you through a referral, you are still required to check the DNC registry. If the prospect is on the registry, you are not allowed to call them. You will have to be creative to get an introduction.

Step #6 – If the prospect came to you by way of referral and you set an initial meeting with the prospect, reach out to the referral source and let him or her know that you have followed through and scheduled a meeting.

Step #7 – Contact the prospect prior to the initial meeting:

  • Ask if they have any questions.
  • If applicable, ask if they need help with the homework assignment, such as data gathering for the meeting.
  • Welcome them by saying something like, "My assistant and I were reviewing the calendar for next week and saw that you are scheduled to come in. I am really looking forward to meeting you."

This one call and that one statement may accomplish two things: 1) it gives them a chance to express their apprehension, which you may or may not be able to assuage. If they back out, it is better to know in advance than to sit and wait for them to arrive; and 2) it lets them know that you are expecting them and are, in fact, looking forward to meeting them, so much so that you took the time to call.

Step #12 – Whether they decided to work with you or not, call the prospect the day after their initial meeting to see if they have any questions from the meeting. You likely covered a lot of material during that meeting, asking them questions about their goals and financial situation. We are familiar with these types of conversations; prospects are not. It may have been difficult for them to understand or remember everything discussed.

New client

Step #18 – Assuming the prospect has decided to become a client and you will be working on a financial plan with them, contact the client one week prior to their appointment to ask if they have any questions about the process or their homework. Say something to the effect of, "I am/we are really looking forward to working with you."

Step #28 – Consider having lunch or dinner with the referral source and the new client prior to implementing new business. Allow the referral source to share with the individual(s) he referred to you how working with you and taking your advice has benefitted him.

It will be difficult for the new client not to implement your advice after a glowing endorsement.

Step #34 – After the plan-presentation meeting, contact the client to see if they have any questions. Say something like, "I know we covered a lot of material..."


Step #40 – As you move from new client on-boarding to your standard client-service model, foreshadow how the client might feel as they move from one process to another. Here is what I shared with my clients at this junction:

At some point in the near future, you will likely begin to feel like I am not spending as much time with you. At the beginning of this journey, we met often and discussed many strategies pertinent to your financial situation. We have done a great job of putting those plans in place.

Now, we are moving into maintenance mode, where we monitor the work we have done. At this point, we don't need to meet as often, but rest assured, I continue to pay attention to your accounts.

This is the point where you may feel like now that I have your money, I don't care about you anymore. Please realize that this can't be further from the truth. When that feeling creeps in, stop yourself from getting upset, take a deep breath and be comforted by the fact that the hard work is behind you and things are in good order. It's not that I don't care about you; it's that we have done good work.

If you feel any qualms about this process, feel free to get in touch with me at any time.

On-boarding checklist

To make sure all new clients are set up in your system(s), be sure to create a checklist that includes all of the steps you want to take and information you want to gather. You will begin to gather information for the checklist from your very first contact.

Here's a sample of a new client on-boarding checklist:

Thank you to referrer
Create electronic file folder
Appointment Coding
ABC service level coding
Birthday card
Holiday Invite
Financial Plan List
Children/Grandchildren data
Account aggregation
Social media

Challenge connecting with the prospect

You have probably learned that not all referrals are eager to meet with you, at least not at first. After several attempts to connect, one way to be persistent without being off-putting is to say something to the effect of, "I promised Mr. Jones I would follow-up with you to see how I might be a resource for you. Would you be comfortable starting off by having a telephone conversation with me?" After all, your persistence is based on the fact that you promised Mr. Jones you would follow-up. Who could fault you for keeping your promise?

Finding commonality

When you are preparing to meet with a prospect, conduct a search for information that may lead to an interesting fact or a commonality between you. Google is, of course, a great source of information, but there are other sources as well. One that I use is

Use your best judgment

You will not use all 40 steps with every new client. Use your best judgment to choose which steps are appropriate to the situation, keeping these very useful steps available to you during your on-boarding process.

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