Financial Planning Shines Through Lightbulb Moments
• Meg Curry • March 18, 2021
Interactive financial planning is powerful. And never more so than when you help a client realize a circumstance they thought might derail their financial life won’t actually create a hardship.
The look on the client’s face when they realize everything will be okay is priceless. That’s a “lightbulb moment” and it’s one of the best parts of my job. I’ve found that presenting plans in a dynamic way, based on close relationships with clients, is one of the best ways to facilitate these moments of revelation.
Client Journeys Are Unique
One of the most important aspects of putting a plan in place is ensuring that the client’s finances will stand up to life’s unexpected events. Life is unpredictable and as a financial planner, my job is to do what I can to minimize the impact of surprises.
That’s why it’s so important to build a relationship with your clients. Seeing the big picture of their life is the best way to help them plan for any circumstance. Financial planning builds strong client relationships, but strong client relationships also help build the best financial plans.
There is no planning formula that will work for everyone. Personalization is key in holistic financial planning. Ask your clients to share their hopes and dreams, their family composition and dynamics, and their biggest financial fears. Knowing and understanding these details will ensure you are putting the best plan in place for them, while also showcasing your value.
Best Laid Plans
The value of interactive planning and the importance of the personal approach was recently reinforced for me when a client called in a panic about her job situation.
She had been working as a software engineer for the same company for 25 years, with the last 12 being on a part-time basis. Seemingly out of the blue they had decided they needed her to come back full time or be terminated. And she had about five days to make her decision.
Needless to say, this was startling news. In addition to working through the emotional aspects of such an ultimatum, she had some very practical concerns that involved private schooling for her children, one of whom required special attention. Would she and her husband be able to continue this if she chose to take the severance?
The client called our office in a panic hoping we could talk through it with her. We met virtually that very afternoon to gather some pertinent information. By the next day, we were able to meet again to walk through the plan.
Because we knew this client’s personal and financial situation so well, I was able to quickly build out some scenarios to show the impact of leaving her job versus staying, and the associated costs with each. We concluded they would be financially secure should she choose to leave her job.
I’ll never forget how her face lit up with a genuine look of relief when she saw that they could continue on their current path—especially regarding their children’s education. It was a real lightbulb moment, and that clarity gave her the confidence to move on from the company.
All this was possible because of our existing relationship. It meant that I knew their family situation, understood their full financial picture, and had already gained their trust by putting together the right plan for them. This relationship will only strengthen as my firm helps them continue to plan for their future.
Using Interactive Planning to Grow Your Business
We’ve had success growing our business by putting together a baseline plan for existing investment clients and then walking through it together while updating and revising various components in real-time to see their impact on the plan.
The result is often that the client brings additional assets to the relationship because we have painted a picture of how to create a successful financial future—another type of lightbulb moment.
Engage the Client Completely
When it comes to building trust and deepening relationships with your clients, there’s no substitute for learning and understanding their personal details. Beyond the planning process itself, it is the best way to ensure you are providing them with the necessary support to meet their financial goals.
And there’s no better way of presenting a plan to a client than doing so interactively. Interactive planning increases a client’s involvement in developing their plan. It lets them see the logic of your recommendations, the impact of their decisions, and it gives them a detailed look into their financial future, all of which reinforces the value of your advice.
Nothing beats that look on a client’s face—that lightbulb moment—when you share their plan with them, and it meets—maybe even exceeds—all their expectations.
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