Just how important is it to record what is said and agreed in a meeting with a client?
The experience I have gained over the past 45 years in the Accounting and Finance industry confirms that minutes are critical to protect the client’s rights and ensure that accountability for the advice remains with the professional.
Here is some insight into some common problems that have arisen where minutes are not recorded, or recorded incorrectly:
- The client misinterpreted the facts leading to incorrect and costly action/s.
- Innocent but incorrect action has led to legal implications and resultant costs.
- With no minutes and then a subsequent resignation of a meeting participant (employee) significant loss of critical information occurred.
All these examples cost both the client and the professional time and money that can be eliminated by recording accurate minutes.
So, does this mean every word should be recorded in the minutes?
The answer is no, not necessarily. However the key requirements are:
- Minutes should contain simple, clear and accurate advice to ensure that a correct reflection of the meeting is documented that is understood by both the client and the professional.
- Minutes should accurately reflect decision making by the client.
- The professional should ensure that the client not only understands the text in the advice BUT also understands the intention of the advice.
- In complex matters where significant discussion takes place before arriving at a decision it is useful to capture the clear chronology of the clients thought process leading up to the decision to ensure there is no misinterpretation of the client’s intent.
- To ensure that clients decisions are transferred into action after the meeting, the minutes need to reflect who will take responsibility for the decision with any follow-up action and a “by when” date.
- The minutes should be distributed to the client to confirm the understanding between the client and the professional.
By ensuring that there is a documented and accurate account of a client meeting confirms that the client and professional interests are protected, and a predictable and seamless service is received.
- Tony Carr