Are You Considering a Client Advisory Board? Here's What You Need To Know.

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Teresa Riccobuono

As part of your 2015 marketing calendar, consider including a client-advisory board.

Before we get started, let me clarify the difference between an advisory board and a focus group. A focus group is a one-time gathering of information from a segment of an advisor's client base, prospect base or strategic alliances. An advisory board is a focus group that continues over time.

An advisory board is a low-cost, high-impact activity that has significant benefits.

Here are answers to common questions regarding client advisory boards.

Who should I invite?

Depending on the purpose of your board, you may want to invite clients with expertise in finance, marketing, human resources, customer service or information technology.

Consider including a surgeon. They are in a position to be sued and are aware of asset-protection issues.

The board does not have to include only clients. You might also invite primary centers-of-influence (COIs) as well as prospects and wholesalers.

Here are some factors to consider when determining who to invite:

  • An ideal size of 6-12 people

  • Revenue generation of the client

  • Assets under management of the client

  • Centers of influence associated with clients

  • Ease of relationship

  • A combination of planning and non-planning clients

  • A combination of older and newer clients

  • A combination of men and women (singles and couples)

  • A combination of retired, self-employed and employed clients

  • Someone who has strong opinions who will speak up

  • Clients’ work and travel schedules if there will be ongoing meetings

If you plan to meet multiple times per year, consider rotating clients in and out so there is not a significant burden on the original participants. Half of the group could participate for one year, and replacements could rotate in for a two-year engagement. The second half of the original group could remain for two years and be replaced by a new group with a two-year commitment.

How should I invite them?

A personal call is the best way to invite your participants. A team member who is well known among clients could make the calls as well. However, these invitations are of great importance to your business and should really be done by you. You can answer questions that come up during the call much better than your team member.