The Financial Plan itself is the foundation of any sound plan and in some cases it is the plan! But what most successful Financial Planners realize is that the report/plan that’s analyzed by the computer to their clients isn’t straight-forward enough. This is because clients get overwhelmed by the numbers, words and projections. It’s all very technical and goes right over their head.
More often than not, this has the opposite effect of what Planning is supposed to do, which is to engage, to establish trust, to build rapport. Sticking the 80-page report to the client is (for most clients) going to make them less engaged with the message and the main goals you’re striving to work toward.
Besides, if they could look at wordy pages of numbers and words, they’d just look at their convoluted statements! That’s why they need you to help them sort it all out.
How You Can Immediately Improve Your Engagement with Clients
If lots of words and numbers are too confusing for the client to the point where it becomes disengaging, the answer to that naturally is to reduce the words and numbers. And that’s what most successful financial planners have concluded and indeed implement in their practice. Instead of the 60-page plan report, the report is condensed into an written summary. It can be considered like an executive summary of any report. The Plan will still remain there as a reference, but the executive summary is what clients really need to know at the current time. This makes a lot of sense as this is the most relevant to the clients at the moment.
Most of the financial planners I’ve interviewed, know this, have adopted this to engage their clients by keeping it simple and organized. That’s an obvious step … but the most successful financial planners know and have heard from their clients that in order to double their engagement they need to…
How You Can Instantly Double Your Engagement With Clients
Let me paint a picture of what can instantly double your engagement with clients and what the most successful financial planners know works with their clients.
Think of a recipe. The recipes I’ve struggled with are the where it’s just one long written narrative. (I think it was a Martha Stewart one). It’s one long paragraph and it tedious to know were you left off and have to parse out all the information before you figure out what ingredients you need and which steps to complete. It’s all jumbled together and not a great experience. It also adds a heck of a lot of time to doing something. There must be a better way of doing this!
The better recipes have the ingredients all laid out. It’s organized into a list. And at the same time, the instructions are written in a step-wise form. A marked improvement over the written narrative. I have a better time understanding this because it’s organized in a way that I understand. This is what most human factors specialists call a established mental model. It takes advantage of the pre-existing motif (a list) and exploits that for use. Pretty simple — a list.
But how to make a really really good recipe…
Going Beyond Engagement and into Influence
The best recipes are the ones where a bit more thought needs to be put into the design. As Cassie Best, Assistant Editor at BCCgoodfood.com, advises on the best recipes to: “Don’t overcomplicate things – less is more! Too many ingredients can put people off. Keep your recipes simple and try not to use ingredients if they are unnecessary.” There are two main points here:
- Too much information can put people off (and therefore overwhelmed)
- Keep it as simple as possible and take out stuff that’s just nice to have
And I know that sounds like what we’ve been trying to do all along. Recipes in and of itself are meant to be a way to convey complex information into a more (for lack of better word) digestible form. But even as we put it on paper, what we can learn from Cassie on writing great recipes is to continue to filter out the necessary components and not put everything on there. This increases the changes that the recipe will be used, that it is more easily understood and abandon all the frills that people don’t need.
Appeal to their Senses – Engage and Influence VISUALLY
Added to these wise advice is that the best recipes have appeal to the senses and make it as simple as possible. It’s visual and isn’t just words. In fact, written narratives and words have a very low rate of engagement (unless that appeals to your way to learning.) But for most people, and most financial planners tell me this is that their clients want something VISUAL for their clients to see and to convey their “recipe” or their “plan” for success.
That was what Steve Job excelled at keeping it as simple as possible, but not simpler. He’s build amazing useful products by focusing on the usability in this way. He’s been known to start over from scratch and throw out entire project detailed designs when it doesn’t meet that criteria.
To double engagement and into becoming an the influential financial planner, we need to continue to make it more visual while refining what we need in a client’s plan and what is just nice to have. Because the last thing we want to do is overwhelm the client because sooner or later, life happens, and they get disengaged.
And that’s what the most important thing to Double Your Engagement with Clients. Learn how you can incorporate powerful Visual Tools and set up the “Recipe” for client success: