In this new digital age, it feels a bit like we, as Financial Advisors, think we’re valuable to clients if we can get all of their stuff into a single document. Like a summary of all the things they’ve got. And then we’re awesome. A small thing to keep in mind though … the client already has all that stuff. Given, there’s a bit of admin in searching for the emails, but really, the client owns the source documents already. They get the product supplier’s updated information regularly. They could, one might suppose, print all of this out and staple it all together in a single summary document if they so desired. That’s surely not the value we’re trying to add? Even if we were to put a Total at the bottom of the page, maybe even a few, I don’t think that’s value we want to add to their lives either.
My take … the role of the Financial Advisor is to “un-gobbledy-gook” all of these documents for the client. That means there’s a job for the advisor, one which AI, “integration” or “data aggregation” cannot perform. There’s a job for the advisor to take the “Policy Summary / Schedule” and turn it into something that is meaningful for the client.
Clients don’t speak in policy numbers. They don’t remember wrapper names, product brands and rarely even, the big brand product suppliers. What they do try to remember, are the benefits. But that gets lost fairly quickly and all they’re left with is the bones of the advice carcass from which to build a picture of the future. The bones we tend to leave also give little reminder as to the reasons they should keep course – after all a “sinking fund policy” may just as well be a “raspberry coddiwomple”. If we’re speaking to clients, in their monthly reports, plans, reviews and feedback sessions, using the names of the “products,” “the suppliers”, and “underlying assets,” etc we’re talking in Slovakian.
The real job of the Financial Advisor is to connect the client’s life to the financial stuff that they own – make those threads of understanding clear and obvious. We need to be coming back to clients to make explicit that they have “stuff” in place (products and their features) to: “send their kids to school”, “make the career change possible”,”get to a point when they can lay off on working a seven day week”, or “know that things are ok if bad things happen”. The emphasis is not a “Universal Whole Life Policy XYZ,” not the financial product … those are merely the means to an end, the tools Planners use to help clients fulfill their goals.
Let’s stop focusing on the laundry list of parts that make up the strategy. It’s not an “Allan Gray, Unit Trust, policy number 3764462389” … it’s “Paiges Education Fund.” Let’s, every time we speak, refer to Paige’s Education Fund, the rest is for the Service Center. Clients never need know a policy number. You do. Stop speaking in industry lingo. Speak to your clients in their language. Help turn their Policy Summaries into stories of their lives.