As financial planners, our job is to help our clients learn new things about money and how to manage it well. We’re walking them through all the things they don’t know yet.
But what happens when clients “don’t know what they don’t know” — when they come in for their first meeting with a completely incorrect view of financial planning? It can be frustrating to realize that a new client believes some less-than-positive things about us and our profession. Or when they simply don’t know what to expect in terms of working with us.
This situation is fairly common — there are many financial planning myths out there. And it can be tempting to feel insulted or annoyed by these incorrect assumptions. But it’s vital to remember that most clients aren’t intentionally trying to insult you or your profession. They’re just operating on bad information.
When this happens, we need to spend some time dispelling those myths and helping our clients understand what we do — and how we can help them! So let’s go through some of those common misconceptions and figure out how to break them down and show clients the truth in a gentle, approachable way.
This is Part I of a new ongoing blog series, Common Client Woes. Join the Amplified Planning community to make sure you get Part II along with our weekly newsletter.
Myth: We just focus on investing
One of the most common misconceptions about financial planning is that it’s just about investing. Another version of this myth is that only wealthy older people need financial planners. So how should you respond to potential clients who think they can’t benefit from your services unless they have a million-dollar retirement fund and a country club membership?
I think the best thing to do is address this in the first meeting. Many people come to that initial meeting thinking they’re only allowed to talk about investing (even if it’s not their top priority). So instead, take some time to ask strategic questions:
- About kids: do they want to help pay for college or simply help their children build good money habits?
- About parents: are they financially supporting their parents?
- About healthcare: do they have plans in place for long-term care?
So take some time during those first couple of meetings to direct an open conversation about a wide range of financial topics. It gives you a chance to learn what your clients want help with, and it shows them that you have so much more to offer beyond investment advice.
Myth: Financial planners are boring
Let’s be honest — there are plenty of people who think we’re boring or that working with us will be difficult. To them, financial planning is like broccoli; they know it’s good for them, but it’s not something they’re going to enjoy.
It can be a little hurtful to realize that a new client has this misconception about you and your work. But remember, in most cases, this misconception isn’t coming from a place of spite; it’s just a message they internalized based on something in their past.
So what’s the solution? Show them how amazing broccoli financial planning can be! Meetings don’t have to be dry and tedious — they can be enjoyable. The key is building that personal connection with each client. Be approachable, have good discussions, and really listen to what they have to say. Break down that invisible barrier, meet them on their level, and take a light-hearted approach to talking about money.
Myth: Working with a financial planner is difficult
This misconception is probably the most counterintuitive, but it’s also the most common. People think it’s hard to work with a financial planner — that they somehow need to boost their financial knowledge before talking with us.
I have so many clients show up for their first meeting completely stressed out because they’ve spent hours trying to research financial topics so they’re “prepared” to talk to me. But, of course, the reality is completely opposite. We don’t expect our clients to do all that work — that’s literally why we’re here!
I’m honestly not sure why so many people believe that hiring a financial planner means more work for them. As financial planners, our job is to make it easier for our clients to manage their money well.
How do we overcome this myth? Like most things, it comes down to communication. Take some time, especially during those first few meetings, to show your clients what you can provide for them.
They don’t have to research how to transfer an account or start a 529 fund — you can walk them through it. They don’t need to understand all the ins and outs of investing because you’ll help them figure out which approach matches their priorities. Be patient, and focus on how much less work they’ll need to do now that you’re there to help them.
Helping our clients overcome misconceptions
We all have preconceived notions about certain people or professions. And many clients come to us with misconceptions about our work or what’s expected of them when they hire us. It can be frustrating to realize that a client has a completely wrong idea about financial planning, but giving in to that annoyance isn’t the right move.
Instead, remember that a client is just acting on whatever information they have. So gently show them the truth — that financial planning isn’t boring. It’s not just about investing, and it doesn’t require them to do lots of homework. You’re there to make their lives easier by simplifying financial decisions. Once they understand that, you can start working with them to reach their goals.
Handling those awkward client interactions takes practice, and it’s not something you can get from a textbook. But you can learn a lot by watching how other financial planners work with their clients. And that’s exactly what you can do as a member of Amplified Planning CORE.
This innovative training program is part educational course, part hands-on mentorship, and completely effective. As a CORE member, you get to watch videos of real-life client meetings and get expert commentary from the planner involved. You’ll get to work on client plans pulled from real scenarios and attend office hours with expert planners. Plus, you can earn CFP® Board Standard Pathway and continuing education hours. Get all the details about Amplified Planning CORE and join today!