In any service business like ours, the most valuable information business owners can get is how their clients feel about them and the job they are doing. Knowing this, three years ago we formed a Client Advisory Board that agreed to provide us with candid comments about our business. In exchange for lunch each quarter, Board members listen to us and the issues we face, provide feedback, and keep us �client focused.�
Our last meeting, in August 2004, provides a good example of how the Board assists us. We asked Board members to comment on whether we should ask our Investment Management clients to sign new Service Agreements. Over the years, as our business and service agreements have changed, we have not gone back to existing clients and asked them to sign new agreements. Therefore, the agreements we have on file vary somewhat from client to client. Since we expect a visit from Federal Auditors relatively soon, we believed having all new agreements in place would speed their review of our firm (a very time-consuming process) and allow us to get back to the matters of our clients more quickly. We understood that asking clients to sign new Agreements would place a bit of a burden on them. At the very least, we would ask them to use their own time to read and digest a two-page document that is packed with information. As you can imagine, this would be fairly unpleasant.
The opinions of our Board members on this issue varied considerably. However, one specific comment made the most sense, �Who do you care about inconveniencing more�your clients or the auditors?� While we prefer not to inconvenience anyone, sometimes it�s impossible. With the opinion of our Board in mind, we decided it was more important not to inconvenience our clients, and we chose to live with the old Agreements and the impact, if any, this will have.
Our Client Advisory Board has benefited us in many ways, mostly by acting as our clients� advocate. The Board enables us to see things more clearly through our clients� eyes and is one of several tools that helps make BWFA unique in the marketplace.
To learn more about our Client Advisory Board, please visit the Client Advisory Board web page. If you are a client and would like to sit on our Board, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.