Why you should explain your financial planning process (beyond the standard 5 steps)

Are you a Survivor fan?  

I've grown into one.

After years of not watching, the last few seasons have had me hooked.

So much so, that I sometimes wonder what I'd do in some of the predicaments contestants find themselves in.  

Would eating rice and beans for 39 days make me a hangry, horrible monster? Would I fly under the radar or 'make big moves'? Would I laugh maniacally in the confessional interviews and claim I'm in control of the game? Would I be that one person that cries all. the. time? (see also: hangry)

And would I actively go searching for an immunity idol?

Would I run through the jungle and rummage in the undergrowth? 

Would I overturn logs where spiders, snakes and other bitey things live?

Would I scrabble around and put my hands into hollowed-out tree trunks?

Would I willingly reach into the unknown hoping to find that idol? Would I search for the thing that'll keep me safe for another few days? The thing that'll give me more certainty about my future.

Truth is, despite the logic of it helping me make progress, I'm not sure I would.

I might poke around a bit. Keep my eyes peeled.

But the thought of sticking my hand into a hollowed-out tree — where murky darkness is all I can see, and where the presence of things that can bite seems fairly high — sounds pretty risky to me.


A big unknown.

Perhaps too much unknown, for me.

What about you?


I reckon that experience is what it's like for most people who're thinking about hiring a financial planner.

They want certainty. A financial immunity idol.

But there's fear and risk involved.

The unknown.

A big, black hollow.

They don't really know what financial planners do. They don't know what it's going to be like working with you.

And it's not just about whether they think you'll help them get results or not.  

Most people simply don't know how it all works.

And that makes it hard to say yes.


So let people into the experience.

Explain the process, the way you work, what results they can expect.

Explain it through their eyes.

If you don't, they'll guess. They'll tell themselves a story — right or wrong — about how it all works.

If you do, they'll know. The fear is eased. The assumed risk is lessened.

They'll have the information they need to help them make a decision.

And that has a big impact on your clients' willingness to take the next step.


Explaining your process is more than the bog standard 5 steps:

  1. Discovery

  2. Engagement

  3. Strategy

  4. Implementation

  5. Review

It's not enough.

Go deeper. Be more specific.


Explain that you'll be having deep conversations about money, behaviours and values.

Explain that you'll be asking hard questions. That people cry. That it's okay if they don't know all the answers.

Reassure them it's all part of the process.

Explain that there's going to be some really personal questions when you're completing an insurance application. That they'll probably feel uncomfortable. That you will too. And that it's normal.

Give them examples of the types of questions they'll need to answer — especially the squirmiest. Explain what might happen if they have to get a medical. Let them get their heads and bodies prepared.  

Explain that it's common for conversations to get messy. That you expect them to be. That it's normal for a husband and wife not to agree on everything. To want different things. That elbow nudges and side eyes and attempts to avoid questions and change the subject all happen.

And that part of what you do is help them come to an agreement about how to move forward.

The messiness is expected.

And it's all part of the process. 


Most people have never been to a financial adviser before. Nor do they know someone who has.

You're the person they're relying on to explain how it all works.

Because they need the details. They want to understand. They need to know about the experience, to help them make a decision.

Don't let a lack of information be the thing that stops someone from saying yes. 


Let people into your process.

Shine a light into the dark hollow. Expose the uncertainty and murkiness. Show them where the bitey things are.

They might still be a little scared, but they'll be prepared.

After all, they want immunity. The promise of certainty.

So help them. Give them the information they need. 

And you might find it helps you from getting voted off the island.