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Getting Started with Financial Planning at Your Firm

Gregory Furer September 29, 2020

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Updated on: August 24, 2023

I believe that financial planning is the future of our industry. Client expectations are evolving, technology is disrupting the traditional way of doing things, and investment management may increasingly become less profitable. My team grew AUM by 500 percent. One driver of our success was our commitment to providing financial planning services to our clients. Based on my personal experiences I believe, without a doubt, there is great profit potential in financial planning.

Many advisors, however, don’t know where to begin. We went through the same growing pains and know there are a few key things you need to understand: what clients want, what they don’t want, the main obstacles to commit to planning, and how to start doing more planning.

What Do Clients Want?

Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse!”

Ford, of course, introduced the Model A to the world and changed transportation forever. He didn’t just give people what they wanted. He was able to identify a problem that consumers had and solve that problem in a revolutionary way that made their lives easier. Financial planning is no different.

In just about any industry, but particularly in financial advice, there are three basic things a customer or client wants:

  1. They want their problem solved
  2. They want to make their life easier
  3. They want to know that it’s all about them

Today, offering better investment management services is the equivalent of providing a faster horse.

Financial planning, on the other hand, helps clients pursue their most important personal and financial goals. In other words, it solves their problems. Financial planning, when conducted with the right tools, is both digital and personalized, making clients’ lives easier with a plan that’s unique to their needs.

Financial professionals that can offer this type of service are giving their clients the Model A.

What Clients Don’t Want

When clients go to an advisor to find out when they can retire, they want to have their questions answered. They don’t want to leave with more questions, such as what happens if they pass away early, lose their job, or develop a disability.

Clients also don’t want to do the complex work of creating a financial plan. They hire advisors to make their lives easier. This means they’re typically not interested in hearing the math or quantitative reasoning behind financial recommendations, nor are they interested in spending time filling out forms or doing other work. They want to know how the plan helps them achieve their goals and secure their financial future.

Knowing what makes a painful experience for a client can be helpful in ensuring you create an excellent client experience when you launch your planning services.

What’s Stopping Advisors from Doing More Planning?

A lot of advisors say they don’t know how to do planning. When I hear this, I remind them that they’ve likely had to adapt their entire career to get to where they are now. A lot of advisors started in stocks, moved on to something like mutual funds, and then eventually to advisory accounts. They’ve been adapting all along and now that their clients demand more, they need to adapt again.

Other advisors say their clients don’t want planning. I simply don’t believe this when I hear it. Everyone is concerned about their goals in life. Whether that’s sending a child to school or paying for a second home, everyone has a stake in achieving their goals. Advisors who say their clients don’t want planning likely aren’t presenting it properly. They may still be trying to sell faster horses when they should be selling the Model A!

How Do You Start Doing More Planning?

There are proven ways to help you get started with financial planning. I have a few basic recommendations for those starting from scratch:

Learn the language of the software you’re using. Immerse yourself in whatever financial planning software you are using to understand how to best leverage it for your clients. You could also set up team training sessions to build confidence and make sure planning processes run smoothly.

Start with your own plan. Creating a financial plan with your own information is a good place to start working with the software at your own speed. It’s also a great way to understand what the onboarding experience is like from the client’s perspective.

Learn on sample clients. Some systems will have sample clients built in. Your office can customize those sample accounts according to your typical clients.

Start with a “halo” client. In the eyes of some clients, you can do no wrong. These are great clients to develop your first plan for.

Basically, you need to know the ins and outs of the financial planning software you’re using before you can effectively produce plans for your clients. Then, you need to practice outputting financial plans for yourself, for a few sample clients, and for a few of your most loyal clients. After you have some experience planning, you can start to roll out these services to your other clients. It helps to have a good financial advisor client meeting template.

When I got started, I spent two weeks in my planning software just learning how to use it. Since then, my team has grown exponentially. If you’re wondering how to get started with planning, watch my on-demand webinar, in partnership with eMoney, to learn more about launching your planning services, as well as how financial planning helped grow my team’s AUM by 500 percent.

This article is meant for investment professional use only. For more information, contact Greg Furer with Beratung Advisors at 412-357-2002 or Securities and investment products and services offered through Waddell & Reed, Inc. (WRI), member FINRA/SIPC. Beratung Advisors is a separate entity from WRI. (08/20)

DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.

The views and opinions expressed by this blog post guest are solely those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of eMoney Advisor, LLC. eMoney Advisor is not responsible for the content, views or opinions presented by our guest, nor may eMoney Advisor be held liable for any actions taken by you based on the content, views or opinions of the guest.


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About the Author

Gregory is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Beratung Advisors. Beratung Advisors focuses on planning for their clients and believes the future of the industry is driven by fees for advice and not asset management. Gregory is passionate about planning and spends time advocating and educating on behalf of financial planning. He believes this is a noble profession and when financial planners get better the world gets better.

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