What is your main purpose as a financial planner? You might think it’s all about teaching your clients, giving them advice, or helping them build a retirement plan. While all of those are important aspects of this profession, I think our primary job as financial planners is to make our clients’ lives easier.
This might sound overly simplified, but it’s really at the heart of what we do. People come to us because they don’t know how to manage their money well. They feel overwhelmed by the idea of following a budget, saving for a home, or creating a retirement plan. When we help them with those tasks, we make things easier and reduce the stress they experience when they think about their finances.
Understanding your client’s point of view
Before you can help your client simplify their finances, you have to figure out where the existing difficulties are. In many cases, the problem is that the financial management routine the client has developed is overly complex and inefficient.
The details may differ depending on the client, but the problem is usually the same: an unnecessarily complicated personal finance system. You may have a client with bank accounts at multiple institutions or someone who uses several different bill-pay services. Maybe your client’s process for paying their bills every month involves writing and mailing checks or transferring money between several accounts.
This sort of complicated financial setup is fairly common. Chances are you have at least one client going through multiple extra steps just to do basic financial tasks. Many people just naturally develop complex systems over the years as they get new jobs, expand their families, diversify their investments, or move from cash and checks to digital payments.
When you have a client with this issue, you can easily see how stressful and complicated their system is. The problem is that they most likely don’t see it that way – it’s what they’re used to, and there’s a certain level of comfort that comes with that. For many clients, the idea of changing their system is frightening. So you have to figure out how to help them overcome that fear.
Removing unnecessary complexity
It’s really tempting to try to help your clients by just getting rid of all those complicated processes at once. But taking a no-holds-barred approach will usually backfire. Trying to change a client’s entire system is like ripping away their comfort blanket, and it can make them feel uncomfortable or even judged.
A better approach is to go slowly and do what you can to support your client where they are. You need to work with them in the way they’re used to so they feel comfortable following your advice. Maybe they’re not ready to consolidate all their accounts or switch from physical checks to online payments. That’s OK. Instead of just trying to change your client, focus on building your relationship with them.
Remind them (and yourself) that your goal is to help them make their life easier. Then, suggest a small first step they could take. It might be as simple as setting up auto-pay for one monthly bill. But a slow-and-steady approach can be very effective at helping your client see the benefits of allowing you to help them simplify more aspects of their finances.
Take small steps to help your clients
It can be tempting to recommend big, sweeping changes to a client, especially when you can clearly see the problems with their overly complicated financial system. But most people are resistant to having their routines criticized and drastically changed. The best way to make a client’s life easier is to help them simplify their system in small, manageable steps.
How do you make your clients’ lives simpler? Add your thoughts in the comments!
It’s tempting to try to fix your client’s financial challenges by suggesting comprehensive changes, but small steps are usually more effective. If you’re unsure what that looks like in practice, consider joining Amplified Planning CORE. This innovative training program allows you to watch experienced financial planners in action as they meet with real clients. You’ll get behind-the-scenes commentary and deliverables you can use in your own practice. Find out more about AP CORE today!