Rock solid relationships between Financial Planners and their clients hinge on the planner’s ability to meet a client’s needs of the Heart, Head and Hand. Meeting the needs of Head and Hand, for most planners is a piece of old tekkie. We’ve spent our time since the dawn of the industrial era perfecting these processes. What am I talking about, you may ask? At the flick of a button, we can fire off a statement to a single client, a segment of clients, or sommer everyone; we can administer a product by sending off a single instruction; we can calculate the rate of return required to send a space-shuttle to the moon; we can maybe even do electronic signatures.
In other words, we’ve spent a lot of time in our businesses building processes, setting up systems and ensuring streamlined activities around the client’s Head and Hand. None of that came for free, it’s been hard work and we’re at a point where we’re probably making improvements (and receiving benefits!!) only at the margin. Every unit of additional improvement can now only be met with a proportionally miniscule improvement in utility for the client or savings for the planner.
In the plight for increased value for the client and growth for the practice, where can we focus our efforts for a better return on every unit spent? The HEART. What am I talking about, again, you may ask? We’re getting a shitty return for effort poured into driving efficiencies and cost-savings, so let’s quit that. Let’s focus on raising the revenue line by focusing effort on activities related to the client’s HEART. Let’s do a better job of managing our delivery of advice in a way that is empathetic and takes clients forward.
If that sounds a bit esoteric, let’s do a better job of inviting clients into the conversation. Not that our clients are all currently mute, but rather, whatever small improvements we can make in this space, we can expect disproportionately larger returns. Success in the HEART means actively engaged clients – clients that are actively engaged in how their lives relate to their financial stuff. These guys stay the course, grow their share of wallet with you, bring the whole household on board and talk about you at the dinner table. They open up your emails, bring their spouses to your meetings, and call you out when you get stuff wrong. It also means that they never fall back into the thousand-yard stare or switch into screensaver mode. They don’t defer their decisions to you, neither do they feel too insecure or overwhelmed to challenge a solution or ask a question. They pay fees happily and become a constant source of referrals. Actively engaged clients are dream clients.
There’s work to be done though. Having had an unfortunate personal medical procedure recently, I noticed in my engagements with the surgeon that the medical fraternity has picked up on this too. The surgeon’s office was what I expected, a regal, throne-like, executive-highchair perched at the head of a rugby-field-sized, ebony table. What was surprising though, was the way the “prop” was used … the surgeon came to join me on the southern end of the endless table-top, peer-to-peer, discussing the procedure as if he were my best buddy. Somehow, he climbed off his pedestal to meet me with my issues of the HEART. Financial Planners need to find their equivalent – the meeting setup, conversation props, digital tools and relevant information to guide a HEART-focused engagement. It’s not “in place” of all the other stuff that drives scale, but “as well” as all that. If not, we’ll be endlessly grinding away, doing the same old stuff, expecting different results. It’s time to do new stuff to get awesome results.