As we continue our series on persistent financial planning myths, let’s talk about the idea that our services are only available to people with “extra” money. This myth takes a couple of different forms. One version is that financial planning can only help people with lots of money to invest. Another take is that financial planning is too expensive, so only people with a high-income level or net worth can afford it.
These myths are common — if you haven’t encountered them yet, you probably will over the course of your career. And it can be frustrating, because we know the truth: Financial planning can help people at any income level. Our services aren’t (or shouldn’t be) limited to wealthy people with lots of money to invest.
So how can we overcome this financial planning myth? How can we make our services It comes down to being flexible and truly seeing yourself as a partner to your clients. This approach gives you more freedom to focus on a client’s specific needs. And of course, it’s also crucial to be patient, especially with clients who feel a little nervous or intimidated.
Think beyond investments
Most people associate financial planning with investment advice and wealth management services. And we CFP® professionals do have a lot of training and expertise in those areas. But that’s not the only way we can help our clients!
When we’re talking with clients whose circumstances fall outside the typical mold, we need to show them all the other ways we can help them. Oftentimes, that means taking a different approach.
Maybe you don’t start out by talking about retirement or investments. Instead, focus on whatever it is that brought that client to you in the first place. Maybe they want to start a college fund for their child. Or maybe they feel overwhelmed by debt but aren’t sure how to start managing it better.
One of the best things we can do as financial planners is treat each client as completely unique. Spend the time to listen and truly understand their needs, and then figure out what you can do to make their financial life easier.
Highlight the benefits
Clients who think financial planners are only for wealthy people often don’t know how else you can help them. So show them the potential benefits of working with you. How can you address the financial pain points in their lives?
Often, the best way to start is with a financial plan. It doesn’t necessarily have to be extremely detailed — in fact, it can be better if it’s a big-picture view of their finances. With this approach, it’s easier to identify gaps in their current money management approach.
For example, maybe you have a client who’s got a solid emergency fund but has never thought about life insurance. Bring that to their attention and explain how important life insurance is. Then, you can help them choose a policy that fits their needs and resources.
When you notice what’s missing or things they haven’t thought about, bring them up gently. And then, explain exactly how you can help them with those things! Many people simply don’t know all the ways a financial planner can help.
When you demonstrate to a client how you can help them, it’s easier to get them to listen. And a client who sees the benefits of your services is less likely to be upset about paying your fee.
Focus on partnership
When people think about “wealth management,” many assume that they hand over all control of their savings and investments (and maybe even their budget) to the financial planner. And that’s an intimidating thought.
Of course, it’s also inaccurate. So help your clients see you as a partner, not their “manager.” You’re not there to micromanage their finances or take away their control of their money.
Instead, your job is to give them the support, advice, and tools they need to get things done. Focus on their unique goals and show them how you can help them reach those goals. Listen to their priorities and be supportive to build their trust. The key is to prove you’re there to facilitate their goals, not to supplement your own.
If you want potential clients to feel like you and your services are approachable, give them a little time and space to make decisions. Provide the information they asked for, and then back off so they can go through it at their own pace.
You can follow up occasionally and let them know if something relevant to their situation comes along. But don’t be pushy — that approach isn’t going to help them feel comfortable working with you.
Just focus on staying connected with them. They might decide they want more support from you down the road. And even if they decide you’re not the right fit for them, they may refer you to their friends.
Let clients come to you
Finally, remember that not everyone needs a financial planner, or needs a financial planner right now. If a client comes to you asking for help, then they’re probably ready to listen to what you have to say. But if you’re the one initiating the conversation, you might be talking with someone who doesn’t need your services or can’t afford them right now.
Don’t be that financial planner who’s out there trying to build your clientele through fear-based advertising tactics. So many people already associate our profession with judgment or shame. Let’s not perpetuate that cycle by trying to guilt people into hiring us.
Give your clients the support they need
It’s a common misconception that financial planning is only for people with extra money. But that’s not true! A good financial planner can help people regardless of their income level or financial goals.
If we want to combat this myth, we need to focus on giving our clients the support they need, even if that doesn’t mean investment advice or wealth management services. Our job is to partner with our clients — whatever that looks like for them.
Want to see real-life examples of providing “non-traditional” financial planning services? Join Amplified Planning CORE, our innovative online training program. You’ll get to watch recorded client meetings, hear from expert planners, and get deliverables you can use with your own clients. Learn more about Amplified Planning CORE and join today!