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How to Present a Financial Plan: 4 Tips for Greater Engagement

Chris Mauriello January 10, 2023

advisor looking at data to present financial plan

When financial professionals know how to effectively present a financial plan, they can better engage clients in the planning process and earn clients for life.

Presenting a financial plan, however, isn’t as simple as running through the numbers. Financial planners need to make sure clients feel included, that the plan recommendations are understood, and they need to navigate clients’ potentially negative emotions while also motivating them to take the next steps.

If you’re looking to make more impactful plan presentations as a financial planner, here are four tips to make sure you’re maximizing engagement.

1. Address the Client’s “Why”

It’s critically important that your clients feel heard. Otherwise, they’ll feel that you’re not tailoring your recommendations to their situation.

Make sure to revisit their “why” for the plan you’ve created—in other words, the reason they sought your advice in the first place. What was the event that prompted them to reach out to you? Has the client been making healthy financial decisions already? What are they looking to accomplish through the plan?

Answering these questions can help you connect with your client on a personal level. This shows your understanding of their situation, and how you’re addressing the goals they intend to accomplish through the financial plan.

Make sure to also touch on any other specific concerns they’ve explicitly mentioned, along with avenues for success. This will help clients understand the value of their plan and get excited about its execution.

2. Communicate Clearly and Effectively

Present your plan in simple terms, especially for newer planning relationships, and avoid getting into complex discussions about how specific numbers were reached. This may sound obvious, but it’s very important because it opens the door for clients to listen and learn, which will ultimately help them implement their plan.

When clients understand your recommendations, the reasonings behind them, and how they should proceed, they’ll build confidence in taking action themselves. Through their education and better understanding, they’re likely to make better ongoing financial decisions in addition to staying aligned with their new plan.

To help facilitate client education, make sure you leave time and space for client questions during presentations. It’s easy to get carried away presenting the plan recommendations, but don’t forget to let the clients speak as well. Their questions or concerns can help personalize their plan and further engage them in the process of planning.

It’s also important, when communicating to clients, to not make assumptions about their life or financial circumstances. Doing so could immediately alienate a client. Inclusivity, on the other hand, welcomes clients into your practice and shows that you’re sensitive to their unique needs.

3. Keep Clients Focused on the Goals

Our recent research shows the top advisor-reported client challenge is having unrealistic goals and timelines for those goals. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to communicate to a client why their original goal may not be realistic, try to frame the conversation in a motivational way.

For instance, in the case of a client who wants to retire at an unrealistic date but knows they have bad spending habits, you can do three things—confirm, redirect, and motivate:

  • Confirm that they are correct about their unhealthy financial habits, and how the continuation of those habits could affect their retirement age.
  • Redirect by letting the client know that these habits are the reason for reaching out to an advisor who can help and that they have already taken the first step towards succeeding.
  • Motivate by proving your plan to be effective in guiding them through the next steps they’re going to take to turn things around.

In these situations, demonstrating “what-if” scenarios with clients in real-time with visualizations will make your presentation even more dynamic. This will help the client understand which goals are realistic based on their own current and potential performance.

4. Divide and Conquer

Sometimes less is more! When wrapping up your financial plan presentation, be sure to summarize your full conversation and leave the client with only a few actionable items. Allow the clients to build momentum with those smaller items first, rather than giving them more responsibility than they can handle.

Explain the importance of the actionable items you’re giving them, and how those items will directly affect what’s to come in the next session. This will help the client shoulder the responsibility for the success of their plan by making sure the necessary items are completed in a timely manner.

Assigning next steps in their personal financial website or portal can help them get accustomed to using this tool throughout the planning process as well, which will further help with engagement as the relationship progresses.

Ending presentations with action items helps the client connect short-term actions with long-term goals and can be a powerful motivator to keep the plan moving in the right direction one step at a time.

Remember: It’s not about creating THE plan—it’s about creating A plan!

Financial Plan Presentations Are an Opportunity for Better Relationships

There are countless ways to present a financial plan. By reiterating the client’s why, communicating clearly, utilizing progress models, and dividing and conquering, you can make your presentation as effective as possible.

Presenting a financial plan is a great opportunity to build your current relationships and motivate clients for greater planning success. To further support your clients in achieving their goals, continue reading our recent post Nudging Financial Planning Clients in the Right Direction.

About the Author

Chris Mauriello, Financial Planning Practice Management Consultant, has been helping eMoney clients at every level for 6 years. Starting as a Customer Service Rep, Chris’s passion for helping advisors implement and use eMoney led him to become a Client Success Coach, then a member of the Live Training Team, and ultimately to his current position, where he helps firms scale their planning services to deliver more personal, impactful advice.

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Heart of Advice by eMoney Advisors

Welcome to
Heart of Advice

a new source of expert insights for
financial professionals.

Get Started

Tips specific to the eMoney platform can be found in
the eMoney
application, under Help, eMoney Advisor Blog.