Make clients part of your decision-making process

I am the second generation to lead Signature Financial Planning, a firm my father started in 1991. I purchased the firm in 2005 and grew it into the thriving business it is today. The professionals at Signature Financial Planning provide financial advice and wealth management services to over 350 clients, whom we consider to be part of the “Signature Family.” But leading a large extended family hasn’t always been easy. There have been some bumps along the way.

By keeping an open line of communication with clients about our challenges and opportunities, we have been able to avoid major pitfalls, while enjoying the loyalty of our longtime clients.

We provide a client experience that is as personal as your signature. We often ask clients for their input and then make the necessary changes to maintain the personalized standards that our clients have come to expect. Client input and their best interests are at the heart of everything that we do.

Ten years ago, we formed a client advisory board to help navigate through the evolution of the firm. The board meets biannually to provide feedback on past client experiences and future expectations. Their contributions have become invaluable to the growth and prosperity of our firm.

Here are a few examples of strategic decisions where we utilized our clients input to help us determine a course of action.

1. Growth. Every firm needs to grow to succeed. However, we learned that our clients were extremely concerned that firm growth would mean less personalized service. So, we worked together to create a sustainable growth plan for our firm and formalized client service standards to exceed their expectations.

2. Client service. After we formalized our new client service standards, we needed to document the process. One of our long-term clients and an advisory board member had expertise in this area and was able to help us create a sophisticated training manual, which we still use today. Including her in this process strengthened our relationship and led to an increase in business referrals.

3. Location. We believe that we have a very convenient office location for our clients and employees, but when we began to outgrow our space we needed to explore other locations. While doing so, we surveyed the members of our advisory board and included their feedback and real estate expertise in our decision-making process.

4. Rebranding. A few years ago, we decided that the look and feel of our brand needed an update. We engaged our client advisory board to help us choose a more modern logo. As part of this process, we also considered a name change, which the advisory board immediately shot down. So, we remain today, as we did then — Signature Financial Planning.

Signature Financial Planning is a better and stronger firm because we engage our top clients in our strategic decision-making. Every business in the service industry can greatly improve its client connections, loyalty and referrals by simply including the client in more of the day-to-day operations process.


Scott Tobe is the president and managing partner of Signature Financial Planning. Scott, who has led the firm since 2006, concentrates his practice on providing comprehensive wealth management solutions to high net-worth individuals and charitable giving strategies. Scott is also a member of EO Pittsburgh. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global, peer-to-peer network of more than 12,000 business owners with 173 chapters in 54 countries.