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How do Clients Feel During the Financial Planning Process?

By Steve Helmich

All of you know and hopefully love the 6 stage advice process. It’s what financial planning is built on – the foundation of great advice. It is familiar, reliable  and structured – as a planner you can manage your time and your business because you know where you stand. But what about your clients?

Do they even know that they are in a process? Do they understand where they are in the process?

Whilst you may be very strong at building relationships because you know where you stand, the financial planning process is unfamiliar territory and can be intimidating to clients.

There is a difference between the advice process and the emotional journey that your clients are going through. They may be seeking their financial freedom but they are going to go through an emotional journey to get there.

Whilst many of you do this either deliberately or intuitively, it is worth considering more explicitly the impact of your advice process on your clients. To see it through their eyes. To understand how they are feeling and what they are expecting from each stage….although they won’t necessarily even know that they are in a stage!

Ask Yourself Questions

Consider  breaking down the 6 stages from a client perspective. For each stage, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are they feeling? What emotions are they experiencing? Are they excited, anxious, scared, confronted?
  • What are their expectations? Anticipation, frustration, impatience, over-expectant?
  • How would you like them to feel at the end of each stage?
  • What do you need to do to get there?

At AMP, we have been asking this question and have mapped the advice process from a customer perspective. We have even renamed the stages with a customer lens on them. Not only that, we have also gone through the process from a planner perspective – you also feel various emotions throughout the process – challenged, excited, bored (!), questioning whether they are valuable to you, etc.

Identify the Gaps

And, unsurprisingly, there will be differences between you and your clients.

There are gaps between what you are feeling and what your clients are expecting. If you can better understand and identify the gaps you can manage for them.

Take a simple example….when you first meet with potential clients, how many of you fall into the trap of espousing your value proposition, of proving how much you can do for them and even talking strategy and solutions. This may work for some clients but others who enter the process feeling anxious, uncertain or full of anticipation might just want to talk about themselves. They want to feel that you are listening to them and that you are interested in them. Clients want it to be all about them – not you or your method of financial planning! You may call it initial engagement but for them it’s first impressions.

Study Behavioural Finance 

This is not rocket science – this is human behaviour. Simple as it is, it is very hard to do consistently. It may be intuitive to many but to some it is quite a step away from the way you do things.

Have a think – challenge yourself and let me know your thoughts.

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