In my previous article, I asked this question. Many of you responded saying you await the next edition so here it is. 

Many clients have goals and dreams they aspire to, but they don’t always know how to articulate the real dream as they are often not sure as to the reason for this. 

You will note that I use the term many. You will come across the odd client who does not have any goals, dreams or aspiration. They want to have a job, save for retirement and then retire. As Financial Planners though, we are often not that person, and we failed to understand why, and how people can be like that, or we ask ourselves, what is the client hiding? The answer is nothing. 

That is who your client is and he is happy for who he is. 

Now let’s talk about the client’s who have goals and dreams but cannot articulate them. 

The reason your client does not engage with you does not maintain the relationship with you is not because you showed inferior knowledge, its because your Financial Plan lacked one thing… The client’s buy-in. 

The client will only buy into their financial plan you drafted if you have made it their plan. 

As we all know, the client does not really want to talk about estate planning and what happens if I die, that is a grownup thing that they need to do, in most cases, nothing more and nothing less. But what if you could change that perception? What if you could entrench a message into the client’s mind that every time he sees the debit order coming off his account he remembers the reason why and he remembers you. He remembers you because you are the reason he remembers why? 

So how do you get to the point where you have a detailed of the client’s understanding?

You have to play a little game with them. To illustrate the game, I am going to use a practical example. 

The client’s scenario

Your client is a middle-class citizen that works hard for his money but is overwhelmed by debt every month. At the end of the month, he is depressed. 

He meets with you and you both design a financial plan that will help the client from this situation. He now recovers and has some disposable income. Now you start with the rest of his financial planning, amongst others his estate planning. 

You have now put solutions in place to ensure that his debt has been paid off and his spouse and children will be able to maintain their standard of living. You now have an idea of what his need/ goal / wish is, but you need to refine this. 

It’s important to remember that your client has not even defined this for themselves and there is no such thing as a generic goal. The reason for this is that we all have different relationships. Even similar relationships are different. For instance, a mother-child relationship is a common one, but the relationship between each mother and child is different. 

Now you start asking your client, What would it mean if you passed away and your wife has all the debt paid off. He might reply she will have an easier life, and you can either ask more questions to get to answers such as she will not have to struggle like… or you can reply SO What? 

You do this repeatedly until you cannot say SO What anymore. You have now discovered the real underlying reason your client has for agreeing to implement his financial plan. 

I want to make it very clear that you need to find your own way to ask your client’s the SO What? question. With some clients, you can put the  SO What? question to them just like that and others will be offended. Your relationship with your client will determine how you will phrase your  SO What? question to them. 

You now have a closer bond with that client, make sure that he knows that you have heard his WHY and that his WHY is important to you. 

The next question you should ask yourself is how have you incorporated your client’s WHY into his financial plan. 

Following from my article Money is not about Money, I now pose the question to you, If it is not about money then why do we talk about money?

As Financial Planners we are great at telling people how to reach their goals. We teach them that they need to plan, protect their plan and how to do this is monthly savings, investments and payment of insurance premiums. 

The reason most people to not reach their goals is the lack of willpower and motivation. 

The goals can be realistic and challenging and in most instances, they are not easy for our clients to achieve. In the plan that we present to people, we generally require them to save a substantial amount of money, pay insurance premiums for something they might not use during their lives. 

As Financial Planners we are generally very passionate about Financial Planning, crunching the numbers for our clients. We are satisfied with the process when they have committed to the plan and implement our recommendations. Now what? 

A year pass and you check in with the client, and you again present numbers and we feel satisfied by the clients appreciating our efforts. Another couple of months down the line and the client has missed his debit order, now what? 

The reason is not that your planning was poor, it was not because of the client not buying into their(your) financial plan, but is more likely that the client has lost motivation and the willpower to continue. 

As financial planners, we need to help clients focus on the why as often as we can. The why is their own accountability measure of their dreams and goals. The why is the reason they made a sacrifice in the first instance is the reason they will remain dedicated and focused on the plan. 

Are you sure you get to their WHY? 

Find out more on how to ensure you get the why in my next article. 

*If you are in the Financial Planning Profession, reach out to find out more about how Barbara Mundell Consult(PTY) LTD help you change the experience and build trust. 

Barbara Mundell,CFP® BAP(SA)™
Barbara Mundell Consult (PTY)LTD

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