Validation: What Clients Really Want

In this episode of Elementality, delve into the often misunderstood needs of clients. Reese Harper and Jordan Haines explore the fundamental need for validation and its impact on client-advisor relationships. Understand how financial vitals are instrumental in providing this validation and the shift from an advisor’s controlling role to a coaching one. This episode is a must-listen for financial advisors aiming to foster more meaningful and effective interactions with their clients

Podcast Transcript

Reese Harper: Well, isn’t that interesting? Jordan Haynes available at a, at 2 42 PM on a Wednesday. What’s snowing outside and I had a question for you, which is, I want to know what’s the thing you’re wondering about most today, right now.

Jordan Haines: Yeah. Yeah. No, it’s this tug and pull this relationship between advisors feeling control and their clients feeling control.

Well, which

Reese Harper: side of that equation? Have you been spending time on most recently in your head?

Jordan Haines: Yeah, I was talking to a couple advisors on Monday [00:02:00] and they were comparing elements to financial planning software. Okay. And they’re talking about why they like elements so much in their client relationships.

And one of the advisors mentioned that. When he gets clients on Elements, they tend to respond really favorably to the actual scores. And one of the clients brought up to him that the reason they liked it so much is they felt like they could control the scores, right? Like, if I save more, It’ll change my score.

Whereas the reports that he used to deliver in planning software, clients didn’t feel like they had any control over any sort of outcome. And when I think about planning software, though, I think advisors feel a lot of control, right? Like they. They could just change assumptions and they can change how it looks.

And so it feels good as an advisor for me to be able to just take control over this projection, this, this forecast, but then the clients don’t feel in control. [00:03:00] But then with elements, clients generally feel a little bit more in control, whereas advisors, however, are kind of left saying, I’m just going to present reality to you, and I’m going to be a coach, and that’s a scary thing.

I don’t know what the implications to that are, but that’s something that I’m observing and thinking about.

Reese Harper: Well, the first thing I’m thinking is, what do clients want that might be different than what advisors want? Because control is a bit of a vague verb or value, but I get what you’re saying, control.

But it’s like, I want to know deeper than control, like what, what is it? And why, what’s the client liking? Why did the client like that score? Why did they like the, what


Jordan Haines: it? Yeah. I’m probably projecting a little bit as well, but I think there’s a core desire. Like for me, when I feel anxiety and stress, it’s when I don’t feel like I have power over my situation.

Right. Like autonomy to, to do what [00:04:00] I want to, right. I think when it comes to finances, like if I look at a Monte Carlo, I don’t feel like I have any power over that situation. I don’t know. It’s been bestowed upon me and I just kind of have to accept the reality of like an 80 percent success rate versus when I have an element score, I can look at a score.

That’s a simple ratio and say, I can change that. So that’s me projecting a little bit. But, but, but from the advisor talking to me about this and advisors who share their experience with clients that are positive tend to be like, Hey client, you did something or you can do something about this and let me show you this in a really

Reese Harper: easily way.

Hmm. All right. I got an opinion now. So I always, I just got to share it so that we, you know, get this out. Yeah. This specific example, I think what clients really want is just validation and projections are not validation. And so validation is what every person wants when you’re talking to them.

Ultimately, [00:05:00] it’s just to know that you accept them and that they’re doing good by you. You’re, you’re doing the best they can. That they’re, they’re in, they’re aligned with you. So when they meet with an advisor, what they, what they want first, every time is validation. It’s just acceptance. It’s just like the way things are right now are okay.

And you don’t need to stress it out. That’s the thing that Why I think why elements as an invention is working because it doesn’t judge the same way as a projection does. It’s not as prescriptive and it’s not related to the future. It’s not related to change. It’s just a present day vital, you know? So it’s like, there’s just a point where [00:06:00] people want validation for their pain, like what they’re going through.

And finances typically are linked to some kind of like hard things that are going on for them. And so it’s just, there’s a lot of tension and we bring a projection. to bear, and we say, you know, if we, if you were better, if you’re a little better, if you just behaved a little better, and you did things the right way, and you weren’t so screwball, because that’s what you’re showing them, right?

It’s like, whatever you were when you got here, it wasn’t as good as it is now that I’ve shown up and fixed it, and you know, changed it, and it’s, it’s a little better. That’s how I read. At least a first time interaction as a prospect and as a first time client. It doesn’t really have that much psychological shaming power or even sub, you know, interaction later in [00:07:00] the 10 and year 8.

But I think in year 1 and 2, it matters a lot. And it’s, it’s just, if you want the client, the client likes to feel validated and vital signs are easier to validate with. That’s the point. Is a vital sign brings you into the present. It allows you to reference a standard. You can raise an alarm bell if you need to, but you don’t have to.

You could also just validate 90 percent of the time. They’re just going to want validation. Sometimes you need to tell people what to change and who to be and how to become. But most of the time, it’s just validate me. Cause it’s been really hard. My life has been hard. Like validate me. That’s that’s what that’s what the client wants.

Most of the time. At least they’re not, I can tell you for sure, if you don’t start there, you will not change their [00:08:00] behavior. Yeah. You cannot change their behavior if you don’t start by validating them, however they’re there and however they got to where they’re at with their money, you validate them first.

And then when someone feels accepted, when they feel like these are my scores, these scores make sense. I can feel what good about being low. I can feel good about being a typically low. I can feel good about being typical. I can feel great about being a little high in this area, you know, but let all of that just be the client making their own judgments with you as a coach and not, you know, anyway, not turn it into a judgment.

What do you think? I don’t know. I have a philosophical too philosophical.

Jordan Haines: No, no, no, no, no, no. I [00:09:00] have a clear thought on that and I want to share it with you. I have to go put gloves on my daughter real quick.

Reese Harper: I’m okay, but just pause. Background music.

Jordan Haines: I think it’s interesting. I think what’s coming to mind while you’re saying that is I think I’m jumping ahead.

Like most advisors do like this need for validation. You said that like usually in year one or two or our first interactions, like that’s what we want. I think I’d agree with you on that. My experience working with the advisors I have is that advisors tend to want to, whether consciously or unconsciously, be like the arbiters of truth to their clients.

Yeah. Like you come to me and I’ll tell you the reality of your situation. I’m the change agent. I’m the change agent.

Reese Harper: I’m the, I’m the hero. I’m the hero, not the guide. That’s where they

Jordan Haines: screw up. I think the thing that Elements is, honestly, it just kind of removes the middleman that advisors have been.

Like saying, like, hey, [00:10:00] we can tell you what’s true. No, like, take the scorecard. With a little bit of education, you will know what’s truth. And then the advisor’s role there is validation, right? Like, here’s where your situation is, and I’ll validate that. Yep. And then the point I was making earlier, I think comes after that, right?

Like, it’s like validation is first, and before you want to be the change agent, like, Clients have to feel like they’re in control. They can see the reality of their situation and it’s not controlled by you. But that’s a scary thing as an advisor to accept. I’m going to take a guide role rather than a hero role and be there to let my client talk and hear what they have to say and then guide them to where they actually want to be, not where I think they need to

Reese Harper: be.

I think it’s understandable why advisors struggle with that. I struggled with that. We grew up, or our mentor, whoever trained us, grew up selling something. And I think that has an impact on how you see yourself as the hero. Because [00:11:00] sales people In most cases, they’re bringing a product to bear and then the customer gets to reject it or accept it.

You know, it’s kind of like, here’s what I’m selling, pick. But with, with, with a guide role, like, you know, a financial advisor that’s just reacting, not like inserting himself into everything, that takes a lot more skilled listener. More, more subject matter expert, a subject matter expert, not a product expert.

It’s a, someone who can listen and is half a therapist and they’re a pretty good analytical mind. And they’ve got subject matter expertise. I mean, that’s why you pay attorneys lots of money. That’s why you pay good therapists and good coaches and stuff quite a bit. Because they can listen, they have subject matter expertise, and they can reflect things back to you and it’s very valuable.

It’s just a completely different client advisor relationship though when you’re being the guide. [00:12:00] Because now the product has less. There’s no place for you to hide as Carl Richards would say, you know, now there’s literally no place to hide. It’s you, your subject matter, expertise, your competence, your niche.

I know the future is that guide role backed by vital signs. You know, to guide the advisor, it’s a set of idols and a talking head. Like that’s the future. So it’s a much more efficient business model. I mean, there’s just no deliverables. There’s no management of the stupid investment accounts. My gosh, they’re like a freaking, they’re a nightmare sometimes to just be in charge of cash management alone.

I can see a really highly profitable future where your financial vitals combined with a deep subject matter expert. Doesn’t require you to have any deliverable. So in that world, you’re, you can’t [00:13:00] get there without being like, you can only get there by being the guide. So it’s a, it’s a fun future. Cause we have like a really interesting set of career paths starting to emerge.

And the financial advice industry is going to keep pushing more towards therapeutic financial counseling, you know, finance as like the root cause of someone’s trauma. And we’re in the best position to continue to have a really nice impact on major life decisions, not just the tax ones, not just the legal ones and not just the investment ones.

Let those be the commodities. Let’s go innovate in the world of advice where guides get paid just to guide. Anyway, that’s my thought. What do you think?

Jordan Haines: We help people become financial guides. Like, that embodies kind of this [00:14:00] philosophy that you’re

Reese Harper: Yeah, it’s strategic. It’s very strategic. It’s values driven.

It, it really touches intimate goals that people have. I mean, you got to admit, like, it, our industry is in a really beautiful place right now where there’s consolidation across lots of professions. We’re in a great spot to pick up a big growth market, which is people want to talk about their money too.

They want to talk about their money. They don’t always want to do stuff with you. And it’s a little intimidating to rip your money away from Tom and give it to Susan. You know, it’s like scary to do that. But what if you just started talking to somebody about their money and what if you’re an expensive money talker person and you just, it was very expensive to talk to you about money.

Well, so there’s this,

Jordan Haines: there’s this like administrative burden that just looms over financial advisors right now, like get more efficient. Do everything. I’m, I’m confident enough [00:15:00] to go and talk to like a multi million dollar chiropractor and have development scores and say like that shows

Reese Harper: the, but that shows the power.

Also, what we’re talking about earlier with a vital sign where it’s like, it’s not just elements. It’s like, if you, if you had a set of ratios. That you kept track of and you could just reference quickly and you could trust them You know Like when someone like when they go and someone comes and talks to you You might not realize this but think about when look what think about a movie when someone walks up and checks your blood pressure on your arm mm hmm, and you’re sick and Imagine that nurse coming up in the movie and you’ve got her reaching out grabs your arm You say a few she asks you some questions But she’s skeptical of your response because she’s waiting to see what the blood pressure says to know how reliable, you know, is this person’s mental sanity and capacity in this moment?

You [00:16:00] know, there’s a lot to referencing. Those vital signs. And once they’re in place, once you can actually trust them and you understand how to interpret a vital, I do think you start to have more intuitive conversations. Push your advice a little further towards action. It pushes it just naturally. It’s not like manipulative here.

It’s just like if you know that blood pressure of 140 over 80 is actually a typically high. And someone says they feel fine. I’m just not going to buy it. If we don’t have a reliable set of vitals to reference when we’re having emotional conversations with people, we’re going to miss the entire freaking boat sometimes like we’ll miss the forest.

We’re just not even going to [00:17:00] see it. There’s a lot that’s lost in a Monte Carlo projection right now. There’s a lot that’s lost in there. So I just. I just really personally for me, I feel like everything that I wanted to tell you Jordan was actually about validation. It was kind of fun that you kept had a few more minutes ago.

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