fbpx

How to Get Your Clients Engaged in Planning

Managing clients’ expectations is one of your biggest challenges as an advisor. But when a client won’t follow through to implement their plan, the process grinds to a halt. A stalled plan creates significant inefficiencies and leaves you wondering what more you could do to motivate that client.

On this episode of the Elementality podcast, Reese Harper and Chad Jardine look at how to inspire clients to participate in their own financial health. Does your planning reflect your values, or your clients’? Are you digging deep to discover what really drives client happiness? Reese and Chad explain why it’s imperative your clients feel they are a part of the planning process—and why, if their values aren’t aligned with their plan, they may be feeling out of sync with you as their advisor.

 


Podcast Transcript

Reese Harper:
I think advisors need to have more confidence that most of the people that are with you right now, they want to be with you. They don’t want to churn. They’re not looking to go somewhere else. But what they do want is they want leadership from you around where you’re taking them and where you’re going, what you’re going to do. They don’t want to feel like they’re driving the show.

Jordan Haynes:
Welcome to Elementality. I’m Jordan Haynes, financial planning specialist at Elements. In this episode of Elementality, Reese and Chad talk about why clients may not engage with their advisor. Reese offers a few reasons, including a lack of desire because the client doesn’t feel the process is valuable to them, or a lack of understanding the process and how they can engage with their advisor. As you listen, consider how you can re-engage clients by introducing a new, more clear process and establishing the right expectations. Enjoy the episode.

Reese Harper:
Welcome to another episode of Elementality. I’m your host Reese Harper, here with Chad the dad in the studio and Tad behind the mic. I wanted to give a special announcement today. I just got done ordering my DoorDash and I sent it to my home instead of the studio. So if I sound a little hangry during this recording, please know that we really tried.

Chad Jardine:
We like a little bit of edge. A hungry Reese is a happy Reese. That’s what we’re all about.

Reese Harper:
Hungry and hangry, ready to rock. Chad, what’s the insight in adviser land that the people are bringing to us today?

Chad Jardine:
Yeah, you bet. So today, I’ve been talking with Jordan, some of our team, their conversations with advisors, and one of the themes of those conversations this week has been around advisors feeling out of alignment with their clients. So maybe it’s that they’re delivering certain advice and the client doesn’t seem like they want to follow that advice. And really the question is what are some of the keys to helping clients become collaborators with their advisors for their own financial health?

Reese Harper:
So if you were an advisor, I would be asking more questions right now because this got me interested. But part of me would want to know, is this feedback coming from advisors that are feeling like the client is not implementing or doing what they’re suggesting or are advisors frustrated that clients just don’t care, just generally are not engaged? I think they’re different answers slightly. I’m going to address them both.

Chad Jardine:
Yeah, maybe cover them both.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. The first one around they’re not implementing what I’m suggesting or they’re not implementing my plan or advice that I’m providing doesn’t seem to be being implemented. The reason I think this normally happens is because it has to do with your development as a counselor. For lack of a better word, I’d say your development as a therapeutic financial behavioral counselor. Most advisors are very left-brained and they haven’t built the skills to be a counselor. And the difference here is if you have ever done any therapy, and I’m neck deep in therapy all the time, so been involved in this for quite some time. Meaning, I get a lot of therapy, not that I give it.

Chad Jardine:
You seem really comfortable there on the couch. Now I know why.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, I’m real comfortable on the couch. Nice one. You can always count on a good dad joke every once in a while.

Chad Jardine:
Just wait until Halloween rolls around, I’ll be full of them.

Reese Harper:
So usually when people don’t do what you are wanting them to do, it’s usually because you haven’t discovered what it is that’s motivating them, or you haven’t figured out what their values are really … Their values aren’t showing up in your plan, meaning you’re telling them to do something that their values don’t support. An example of a value would be how much someone cares about retiring on time. Does someone actually care about retiring at 61, or is that your value? Is early retirement a value that you’re projecting even subconsciously? Do you really believe that people who are 61 and retire are better than people who retire when they’re 70? Is that objectively better?

Reese Harper:
It really depends on the person. I mean, there’s a lot of people that would rather pace themselves throughout their work life in multiple careers they enjoy, having the standard of living that they enjoy, the quality of life that they enjoy and never retire. Some people want to work 20 hours a week for the rest of their life, just enjoying the thing that they love. I’m just showing that as one value. But unless you’ve done the deep discovery of really understanding what’s driving your client, no matter what advice you provide, you’re going to leave them sitting there hanging, wondering, is this really what I want?

Chad Jardine:
So maybe a way of turning that around, instead of talking about what’s missing, if you’re giving some tips to advisors about how to encourage that kind of collaboration with clients, it’s about deeply understanding their motivations, what they value and being on the same page so that your plan and your advice matches what your client’s actually trying to accomplish.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. Talk less, ask more questions, and practice reflective listening. Reflective listening is when your client tells you something back, just tell them, “Okay. So if I heard you correctly, this is what I think you’re describing,” and restate it back to them.

Chad Jardine:
Yeah, restating.

Reese Harper:
Restate back what you just heard and see if they change what they’re going to say. See if they correct you, because they will. Like nine times out of 10, no matter what you say back, they’re going to correct it. They’re going to say, “Yeah, but kind of.”

Chad Jardine:
And each step helps you zero in on exactly where they’re … You’re triangulating exactly their position.

Reese Harper:
Yes, you’re triangulating exactly where they’re at. And eventually after just a couple of clarifications, they’re going to have stated something that they really value. You’re going to take that in and feel really centered and understand where they’re at, so that when you come and deliver a set of recommendations, it’s actually lining up with the things that they value most. It might be that they value-

Chad Jardine:
It makes sense.

Reese Harper:
The list of things people value is extensive. I mean, it can be family relationships. It can be leisure. It could be career mobility. It could be impact. It could be charitable giving. It can be a variety of things that are really driving them around … Your goal here is to get them to feel content and happy and feel like finances are not a strain. They’re not a stress. They’re not a burden. Because number one, last year I was told this by a psychologist, and he said that it’s been like 30 years in a row that the number one source of stress in the American population is money, every year like for 30 years in a row.

Chad Jardine:
Yeah. I mean, it makes sense.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. So the goal as a counselor is to really try to identify the areas of stress that your clients have around their finances and then design a plan that helps them feel more centered and present and balanced, and that the answers are not going to be the same for everyone. That’s where I think our Elements system that we’ve designed shines so well, is it’s not imposing a philosophical view on what someone has to do. It’s just measuring their overall financial health and allowing people to determine to what degree they want to make adjustments to their finances.

Chad Jardine:
Right. What was the second one that we were talking about?

Reese Harper:
Second thing was are people even communicating with you? Are they not even communicating? The first one is they’re not implementing what you say. The second one is, are they even responding?

Chad Jardine:
So, first barrier to alignment and collaboration is misaligned values. Second one is missing or misaligned communication.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. I would say the first thing is probably this one we’re addressing right now, which is they’re not even communicating with you. They’re not talking to you. They’re just not being responsive. And the second one is if they’re talking to you, but they’re not doing what you say-

Chad Jardine:
Yeah, I had those backwards, but yeah.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. So I would say that you want to, to get people to engage, a lot of that has to do with setting proper expectations upfront and having really clear collaboration moments that you have told the client are a required part of working with you. For example, when I engage a client on the Elements system, I’m saying to them, in order for me to be an effective financial counselor for you, I need to make sure that I have accurate information. So the system’s going to make it really easy for you to update data points that I might need and maintain some accuracy around your account connections and profile. So, one of the expectations I have is that that happens periodically.

Chad Jardine:
Of course.

Reese Harper:
So if the system’s designed well, it’ll be easier for them to maintain. If the system’s not designed well, then it’ll be very difficult for that client to ever be able to engage. They could be messing around with usernames and passwords all the time. They’re going to be like, “I don’t know how to add anything.” So I think a lot of times the reason people don’t engage is they just don’t know what you want them to do. And when you do reach out, you’re reaching out in a way that is unexpected to them and doesn’t match the expectations you set. A lot of people, when they engage a financial advisor, they’re thinking, I hired you. You said I was going to be good by working with you. Why are you talking to me? Do your job. Make me better. Make me some money. Get out out there and start dancing.

Chad Jardine:
Yeah, like you said. Like what are you coming to me for? Just go handle my money.

Reese Harper:
Dance, monkey. And you may have unintentionally set that expectation. And people are, one, they’re wondering why are you bothering me? And then when they get in a frustrated situation, they call, they reach out and they can’t get ahold of you for two days. And now they’re even more frustrated because their expectation was you’ve got two hour turnaround when I call you. I’m your only client. So the expectations usually cause people to be in the wings and not engage.

Jordan Haynes:
A big challenge for advisors is delivering a consistent, ongoing financial planning experience to clients. Knowing what to do initially with a client is easy, but how do you consistently add ongoing value to strengthen that new relationship? The Elements Financial Planning System is centered on key indicators of a client’s financial health, and it gives you the structure you need to deliver ongoing value through financial planning. Start by evaluating key client financial data, then deliver timely insights that are both valuable and appreciated. To learn more, schedule a time to talk with us today by going to getelements.com/meet.

Chad Jardine:
So, let’s say that I’m an advisor and I’ve got a handful of clients and I feel like I’m listening to this and I’m like, “Well, yeah, it would have been great if I’d have known that before.” But now I’m down the road with these clients and I’m worried that they’re going to leave me. What advice would you give them about turning things around when you’re already down the road with your clients?

Reese Harper:
It’s a great opportunity for you to winnow and ween and filter out your clientele by introducing a new level of service that you’re going to be providing that has a different price point. I think it’s a great opportunity for you to go out to your clients. I’ve done this five, six times in my career, where I’m like, okay-

Chad Jardine:
That is not what I thought you were going to say. But, yeah. So you’re saying, hey, maybe it’s time for me to get different kinds of clients.

Reese Harper:
Well, I’m going to go out to my clientele and I’m going to say, “Here is the way I’d like to work,” with my clients. I’d like to incorporate a better process in order to have deeper relationships with fewer people that I can really have an impact with. And here’s my program. Here’s what I’m going to be delivering. Let me know-

Chad Jardine:
So you’re saying, as you present an increased level of communication and a deeper relationship based manner of working with your clients, that there’s the potential that that introduces something to where the client will opt out.

Reese Harper:
Yes. Some clients will opt out from that. And that is not always a bad thing because some of the relationships you have, the expectations that were set just aren’t … Let’s say someone looks at you as an account manager. You’re the guy that set up the IRA. There may not be anything you can do to have them see you in a different light, because they might be the type of client that doesn’t want to have anyone else involved in their life except for the person that manages the IRA. That’s all they want. But you won’t know that until you go and set new expectations with them and say, “Look, I’m looking to build a clientele of fewer relationships that I’m really learning more about and going deeper with. And I want to know if you would like to be a part of that program or not. And here’s what it costs. And here’s”-

Chad Jardine:
Well in some respects, that introduces certainty in a client relationship that was uncertain before. That client was likely going to drop at some point, because they weren’t aligned with the value you were trying to deliver.

Reese Harper:
Yes.

Chad Jardine:
So by taking action and that client opting out, you’ve now introduced certainty into your picture in your work, where before, that could have hit you at any time, and maybe at an inopportune and unexpected time.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. And I think advisors need to have more confidence that most of the people that are with you right now, they want to be with you. They don’t want to churn. They’re not looking to go somewhere else. But what they do want is they want leadership from you around where you’re taking them and where you’re going, what you’re going to do. They don’t want to feel like they’re driving the show. So if you go to them proactively and say, “This is the way that I feel like I’m going to run my practice and improve the quality of service I’m about to deliver,” whether you’re using the system like Elements to be able to engage clients in a process like that, or your own design, or another system that you implement, you need to just go to the clients with that offering and let them know that you believe this is better for them and for the future of the industry and where you’re headed, and give them a chance to opt in or opt out.

Reese Harper:
And in most cases, you’ll end up increasing your revenue, having fewer client relationships and deeper ones, just because that’s just the nature of where the industry is headed. You’re going to have clients that opt to go for a much less expensive offering with a lower touch and less of a relationship with a human behavioral counselor, and you’re going to have people that really want that depth of relationship, and you’ve got to give them that option.

Chad Jardine:
Yeah, thank you. Yeah, that’s outstanding.

Jordan Haynes:
Next time on Elementality.

Natalie Taylor:
Just like TurboTax will never put CPAs out of business, there is always going to be a need for complex planning that I don’t know that any software without a human, there’s just so many variables and so much there that I don’t know that software will ever be the solution from a complexity standpoint for a certain tranche of clients. And that’s okay.

Jordan Haynes:
You can learn more about the Elements Financial Planning System at getelements.com/meet and schedule a time to meet with me or one of our friendly financial finding experts. Elementality’s executive creators are Reese Harper and Chad Jardine. Elementality is produced by Abby Morton and directed by Jordan Haynes.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *