As a Financial Advisor, you likely already know how beneficial financial planning is for the client.
Financial planning helps to create the foundation for a strong client-advisor relationship. It builds trust.
That trust makes it easier to deliver financial advice and provide behavioural coaching so that you can help your clients keep their emotions in check and avoid doing things like buying high and selling low.
Since financial planning focuses on addressing direct and practical questions for clients, it drives value. When you’re speaking your client’s language and meeting them where they’re at, they talk about their experience to friends and family, which keeps the referral and client acquisition wheel turning.
Building trust from the onset makes it easier to turn those prospects into clients. Happy clients stay, which means that financial planning also increases the life time value of a client. When it’s time to sell your practice, having an established financial planning process in place will increase the value of your life’s work.
But the reality is that financial planning comes with many challenges.
There are many reasons why Financial Advisors may not create financial plans for all of their clients:
Time constraints: Creating a comprehensive financial plan can be a time-consuming process. Financial advisors may not have enough time or capacity to create a financial plan for every client, especially if they have a large client base.
Complexity of clients’ finances: Some clients may have more complex financial situations than others, making it more challenging and time consuming for financial advisors to create a comprehensive financial plan. Advisors may choose to focus their planning efforts on clients with more complex financial situations, which could leave many (or most) clients without a financial plan.
Client preferences: Some clients may not initially be interested in creating a financial plan or may not see the value in doing so. Financial advisors may choose to focus their efforts on clients who are more interested in financial planning and are willing to invest the time and resources required to create a comprehensive plan.
Lack of clarity or process: Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start if creating financial plans has not always been a core component of your practice. Even experienced Financial Advisors sometimes lack confidence about doing more financial plans for their clients — they fear making mistakes, not meeting client expectations, or are worried about taking on too much work.
If lack of capacity, clarity, or process is standing in your way of creating more financial plans for more clients, here are some steps and suggestions that may be helpful.
Establish a process
Develop a clear process for creating financial plans that includes steps for gathering client information, analyzing data, creating a plan, and presenting recommendations. Having a structured process in place can help you feel more confident and in control. Use checklists, templates, and structured questionnaires to streamline your process and ensure consistency across your team.
Make sure to set clear expectations with your clients regarding timelines, deliverables, and outcomes. Being transparent about what you can and cannot deliver can help alleviate some of the pressure and anxiety. Focus on elements that you can control and educate your clients on those you can not. For example, we have no control over market returns or interest rates — but we can model those what-ifs and stress test our clients’ plans to provide peace of mind.
Ask for feedback from your clients after completing financial plans. This can help you identify areas for improvement and build confidence in your abilities. Many Advisors build asking for feedback into their process and send out surveys to their clients. It can be somewhat intimidating to open yourself to that level of vulnerability, but those Advisors who do this regularly tell us what they learn is invaluable to their practices and long-term success.
Collaborate with peers
Connect with other financial advisors or professionals in your network to discuss best practices, share ideas, and seek support. Knowing that you’re not alone in facing these challenges can help you feel more confident and motivated. If you do not know any Advisors personally, start by seeking out online options to learn about what other Advisors are doing. A Case Study on how one Advisor tripled her financial planning referrals or a panel discussion from 4 top Advisors discussing the specifics on how they are leading with financial planning to build a thriving Advisory practice are great places to start.
Revisit your training and expertise
Remind yourself of your qualifications, certifications, and years of experience in the field. This can help boost your confidence in your ability to deliver quality financial plans to your clients. If you need something more, financial planning tutorials and lessons are a great place to start. This one, for example, will show you how you can build a process using the Snap Projections financial planning software and you can even earn a CE credit if you do it through the Learnedly platform.
Conduct an internal audit
Assess the current level of financial planning offered by evaluating the current level of financial planning services provided to clients. This includes reviewing the types of plans currently offered, the frequency of plan updates, and the depth of the analysis provided. This will help you to identify areas for improvement in the existing financial planning process. Consider the needs and goals of clients, and identify any gaps in the current planning process that could be addressed to better serve their needs.
Take advantage of technology to streamline the financial planning process. There are countless tech tools today that Canadian Financial Advisors are leveraging to grow their practices. This includes financial planning software to quickly and efficiently create the plans, and extends to software for collecting eSignatures, email marketing, managing your client database, hosting online meetings, and allowing clients to access your online calendar.
Demonstrate value & offer on-going support
Communicate the benefits of financial planning to clients and explain how it can help them achieve their financial goals. This may involve providing examples of how financial planning has helped other clients in similar situations. Offer ongoing support to clients throughout the financial planning process. This may involve providing education and resources, answering questions, and providing guidance as needed.
By taking these steps, Financial Advisors can start doing more financial plans for more of their clients.