A simple tactic to get your clients engaged with their financial plan

Are your clients passive participants in the advice process, or are they actively and emotionally engaged?



Back when I was the Practice Manager of a small financial planning firm in Brisbane, the business owner encouraged staff to create what he called, "dream charts". Not dreams involving flying like Superman or being chased by giant spiders (eek, just me?), but dreams as in "goals".

Each staff member would make a collage of their personal and professional goals (as much as they wanted to reveal), and would periodically share it with the team.

Now my skeptical, logical, analytical brain thought this was a load of codswallop, but after months of passive resistance I went along with it.

I surprisingly found it quite enjoyable to search for images that represented some of the key things I wanted to achieve in my life. Yes, it included kittens.

And so my dream chart was created. It sat in my office, and I didn't give it much conscious thought.

Fast forward several years later.

I think back to my dream chart and realise I've achieved or am on the way to achieving quite a few of those goals — at least the ones that are still important to me.

Is it all because of a bunch of pretty pictures on a cork board? Of course not! There was action involved too.

Vision without execution is hallucination.
— Thomas Edison

But the daily reminder — the images that represented my goals — had an impact.

  • It forced me to become very clear about what I really wanted to achieve (i.e. the "writing it down" effect)

  • It painted a picture of a different (better) reality

  • It got me emotionally involved with my goals

It also made me wonder how using images might have an impact on how clients work towards achieving their goals.

Statements of advice

Depending on your school of thought (and powers of exaggeration), your Statements of Advice (SoA) are either 8 pages and take just 6 minutes to produce, or 80 pages and take 6 hours to produce.

Chances are, both types are unlikely to be read.

Pages of text do nothing to entice your clients to read them, nor get your staff excited about producing them (hello all you paraplanners out there!), and either party passionate about executing them.

Imagine if the cover of your SoA was an image. Provided by your clients, showing the people most important to them. The same people that are important in their financial plan.

The Blackwell Family Plan

Instead of sections in your SoAs being "Insurance", "Investments" or "Debt reduction", imagine if they were goal based and accompanied by an image, again provided by the client, to represent that goal.


Do you see how that would change the way your clients engage with an SoA?

How that might be the catalyst for getting clients to get medicals completed more quickly or sign documents with less chasing?

They can see, and are reminded of, the end game.

Review meetings

Your review meetings could also use those same images. It creates consistency and reinforces the key outcomes clients are trying to achieve.

Imagine if you used nothing but images like those above, in PowerPoint slides to help structure and guide your annual review meetings.

Nothing but images and brief descriptive text.

The rest of your meetings could be actual two-way conversations about things that matter to the client.

Not how the Aberdeen Global Equities fund is performing as part of their investment portfolio.

And the perception of "making sure my family is financially looked after if something happens to me", accompanied by a family photo, seems a whole lot more important than "putting insurance in place", doesn't it?

Daily reminders

What if you created postcard sized physical representations of your clients' goals?

Using a print service such as Moo.com, it's possible to produce individual cards and postcards, in small batches of 20 (each card being different), at an inexpensive cost.

Get one bundle for your client to stick on the fridge, or even frame, as a daily reminder of what they are trying to achieve.

And another bundle to create a wall of goals in your office.

Can you imagine it?

An entire wall of visual representations of your clients' goals.

With your clients permission, imagine the power this would have if this was in your reception area, where other clients could see them. Two sections — goals in progress and goals achieved.

When your client accomplishes a goal, it becomes a significant physical, "let's move the card" event. More significant than a handshake or a high-five, or bottle of wine, or whatever you normally do to celebrate.


And do you think a wall of goals could be a great conversation starter? Something they might tell their friends about? That they might see on a neighbour's fridge or colleague's desk, and ask about?

Hello referrals.

Staff involvement

Have all your staff met all your clients?

Unlikely, but they're probably preparing financial models for them, calling to confirm meetings, discussing strategies, or following up on their insurance applications.

The level of involvement that you feel, when you actually see the clients and their dreams and goals, even if just through photos, is powerful.

In "To Sell is Human" by Daniel Pink, he describes an experiment conducted with a group of radiologists. They found that radiologists, who often sit alone reading X-rays, CT scans and MRIs, reported feeling more empathy when a photograph of the patient was shown next to the scan they were examining. It made it personal.

Even more fascinating, was they found that without the photo, 80% of radiologists missed identifying what he calls "incidental findings". An incidental finding is when a radiologist may be checking an X-ray for a broken ulna, but spots an unrelated cyst near the elbow.

That's a huge impact on performance. And on lives.

Making the patients (or your clients) more human, by the simple act of displaying a photo, could make an enormous difference to how well staff perform their jobs. Both parties win.

In both traditional sales and non-sales selling, we do better when we move beyond solving a puzzle to serving a person.
— Daniel Pink

Oh c'mon...this is all a bit woo woo for me

Many of you are probably already thinking:

  • nice in theory

  • stupid, woo woo, new age, rubbish

  • not another #$@^* process to change

  • we can't even get clients to complete Authority to Proceed docs — they're never going to do this

  • <insert another self-perpetuating excuse here>

But what if you just tried it with one single client? Just one.

Not every suggestion above. Just one.

It would be an interesting experiment don't you think?

Extra reading: If you want to read more about the power of setting financial goals, I highly recommend this article by Ronald Sier, a financial planner from the Netherlands - Why 97% of your clients don't have financial goals, and what to do about it.