Before You Press Record

Earlier this month, Michael Kitces interviewed Bill Bachrach on his FA Success Podcast. During the conversation, Bachrach recommended that advisors record client meetings “to do a better job for the client.”

Here’s how he suggested positioning it:

“You’ll also notice that I’m recording the meeting today. And the reason that we record is because we’re very thorough. You know how you can watch a movie a second or third time and see things you didn’t see the first time through? Well, obviously, this is a lot more important than just watching a movie. So, should we decide to do business together, my team and I will review all of my notes and this recording so when we come back together, our advice will be just right for you.”

I think he’s right – listening back to a recording does help you identify things that you may have missed.  Furthermore, it’s a great way to gain insight on how you can be a better communicator.

The problem is that recording a meeting comes with some significant costs.

First and foremost, there’s the time it takes to listen back to the meeting.  Even if you use a faster playback mode (such as 1.5x), you are still increasing the length of your meetings by 50% or more.  Is listening back to what you just heard someone say really the best use of your time?

It’s important to recognize that recording the meeting changes the dynamics of that meeting. Note that Bachrach recommends telling the client that you are recording instead of asking for permission. He says, “Well, technically, I didn’t ask permission. I just told them I’m going to do it. Now, they have an opportunity to dissent or push back, but they never do.” I don’t believe that starting a meeting by pushing your way forward is the best way to engender trust.

Additionally, I’m sure that you’ve noticed that people act differently when they know that they are being recorded.  In psychological terms, this is known as “the Hawthorne Effect,” where individuals alter their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.

Discussing money matters is intensely personal and can be stressful for many clients. If therapists and doctors don’t record their appointments, why should you?

In the comments section, one reader said that he polled six of clients to see what they thought about recording a meeting.  Their answers included, “hell, no” and “that’s creepy.”

Ultimately, are those few additional nuggets you might hear the second time around really worth doubling your meeting times and potentially alienating your clients and prospective clients?

After all, it’s not about what your clients said, it’s what your client means.

So, what’s a better approach?  Can you capture the right information with just a pen, paper and a good memory?  Absolutely!  Next week’s post will explain how to take really good notes with a little preparation and some deliberate steps after the meeting.

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