Is your Annual Review Process up to scratch?

By 15 September 2021 No Comments

For most firms I work with ongoing client servicing contributes to a very large proportion of their annual revenue (in the region of 70-90%). Aside from regulatory obligations of ensuring ongoing suitability of advice, annual reviews are a core component of the ongoing service most of you provide, so it’s critical that they are excellent.

Surprisingly despite this being one of the core activities, often the annual review process isn’t up to scratch due to factors such as:

  • Sub-optimal distribution of tasks among the team – in addition to creating a team that works to their strengths (please see our last month’s blog) it’s important that each individual on your team uses their time, skills and expertise to the optimum. For example, Advisers booking their own appointments or Paraplanners preparing valuations or undertaking data harvest isn’t a good allocation of resources. Sub-optimal distribution of tasks affects your net profit margin and is likely to result in lower levels of job satisfaction.
  • Unnecessary re-work taking place – ‘re-work’ means any task that needs to be done more than once unnecessarily. For example, recommendations or reports prepared pre meetings only to be re-done post meetings. (If you are a Paraplanner reading this you may be familiar with this scenario). Re-work creates inefficiencies and reduces net profit margins, plus it can be very frustrating and disheartening for the team.
  • Lack of clarity on who should be doing what and when – results in lack of scalability, inconsistency of client experience, errors, often long turnaround times, lack of accountability and a whole host of other issues. Having an agreed map to follow is critical!
  • Complexity created by constant deviation from what was agreed in the first instance – what most people don’t realise is that each time we depart from the process by doing something differently or in a different order it affects other steps in the process. This results in a new set of steps needed to deliver your desired outcome, but these haven’t been thought through or agreed, which leads to unnecessary confusion, errors and delays.

If you are a Practice Manager reading this, I’m sure that you have created numerous processes only to find that they are not being followed and push back often comes from the Advisory team. If this resonates, please rest assured that you are not the only one experiencing this problem.

Involve the Whole Team

This is one of many reasons why the creation of processes and their implementation can’t be done successfully without team involvement. Process is simply a framework, a sequence of actions that needs to take place in order for you to achieve a desired outcome. Process isn’t something that is happening just in the back office. It’s a way of creating an excellent, consistent and repeatable client experience delivered to pre-agreed parameters. (If you want to read more about the importance of process head to an article I wrote last year for the Personal Finance Society on the topic of The Power of Process). One should never underestimate the power of process in creating a successful and robust business that people love working with and for.

Look at Each Step From Various Perspectives

While most firms’ annual review process consists of the same four key steps:

  1. Organisation of a review
  2. Preparation for review
  3. Review meeting
  4. Follow up

the devil is in the detail and to get it right you need to look at each step from multiple perspectives!

As such, when looking at mapping an annual review process or revisiting your existing one, it’s critical that you engage with the entire team and gather various points of view in relation to the key questions you need to ask yourself as a business. You will find that what is perceived as important or a good practice to Advisers will be different to what is important to the Paraplanners or Administrators. All perspectives are valid and must be considered to create processes and solutions that truly work (this includes the clients’ perspective of course!).

The Strength Is in Diversity

By working on processes as a team you stand a much better chance of creating a cracking client experience, while also understanding why certain decisions are being made thanks to you being privy to multiple perspectives. This will eliminate a disconnection between the front and the back of the house which isn’t helpful. (More tips on how to implement changes successfully next month so keep an eye out for our next blog!).

Freebie Template

The Process Prep Sheet will help you review your existing annual review process with your team. The template is split into three sections, with questions included in each part. These are:

💡 Big Picture (as per the image below)

👩‍💻 Accountability

📊 Operations

👉 Download your free worksheet now!

Make Sure Everyone Has a Voice

The document focuses on various aspects of reviewing a process that are important to consider. When including your team ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate and that the meeting isn’t being dominated by one or two outspoken individuals. Tools such as Six Thinking Hats or speaking rounds will help to create the right environment for a meaningful exchange but more on this in future blog posts (or follow us on LinkedIn – here is a post related to the use of Six Thinking Hats).  

Any questions?

Why not join our next free Virtual Open Office Hour that is open to all on Tuesday, 5th October at 10:00am? It’s an opportunity to ask me any questions you want. The spaces are limited, so send an email to to book your place now!

Have you heard of our Annual Review Pack?

If you would like access to our tested solutions and expertise our Annual Review Pack will support you all the way by providing you with a 3-part video tutorial, an example best practice Annual Review Process as well as a whole suite of downloadable templates and worksheets.

Hundreds of hours of expertise have gone into this pack to give you clarity and to allow you to create an excellent process without having to troubleshoot all the problems that we already have the solutions to. All in your own time and done at your own pace!

Grab your pack now 👉

Alternatively, if you are a Practice Manager or an Operations Director join our Master Practitioners Club to gain access to the content of the Annual Review Pack and tonnes of other resources and benefits for only £149, plus VAT per month (subject to a minimum term of 12 months) 👉

If you are a member of our Master Practitioners Club, here are some of the relevant resources you can find in our library:


  • Process Prep Sheet
  • Annual Review Process Mapping Checklist
  • Example Annual Review Summary
  • Example Annual Review Process
  • Annual Review Meeting Notification
  • Annual Review Meeting Confirmation
  • Annual Review Meeting Agenda
  • Annual Review Deferral (Unable to make contact)
  • Annual Review Deferral (Postponed by clients)
  • Annual Review Meeting Checklist
  • Review Scorecard
  • Annual Review Meeting File Note
  • Annual Review Meeting Follow Up
  • Stop Start Continue
  • Empathy Map (with questions)
  • Empathy Map (fillable)
  • Time to Think Meeting Agenda & Resources (created by When We Think


  • Process Part 1: Creating an excellent annual review process with Dominika Sieradzka
  • Creating An Excellent Annual Review Process – Part 1 (Tutorial)
  • Creating An Excellent Annual Review Process – Part 2 (Tutorial)
  • Creating An Excellent Annual Review Process – Part 3 (Tutorial)
  • Decision making & how to get your ideas across with Dominika Sieradzka
  • Why a Thinking Environment? with Rebecca Timmins of When We Think
  • How tech can help maximise efficiency and improve client experience by Andre Costa of the Advicefront

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