Create Moments of Pride with your Financial Planning Clients
I'd like to be able to say that the inspirational seed for this idea was my own, but the truth is that it came from Kristi Sullivan with Sullivan Financial Planning who was inspired by the book The Power of Moments. Regardless of where it came from...it's a good one.
Kristi and I are in the same mastermind group and we're all reading this book. She, being the stellar student that she is, had read ahead of our last assigned reading and announced to the group that she made a small (but mighty) change in how she acknowledges when a client makes an appointment with her.
"I changed the response in Calendly from the generic confirmation of the appointment to say something more congratulatory when someone makes a appointment," she said. "A step toward a solid financial future should be celebrated."
Again, simple but inspiring. And now that I've caught up with Kristi in my reading, I can see how important it is through the examples in the book. It's also made me think about how financial planners should really be doing this in their own practices.
The truth is, that I could do a little of this myself when people contact me about marketing; I know that if they're emailing me about something it's likely that this has been on their to-do list for a while. Yay! You've checked something off and might be able to take a big task off your plate.
But I actually think this sort of milestone celebration is REALLY important when it comes to financial planning. Here's why.
1. Financial Planning is Personal
About a year ago, I was on a walk and listening to a financial planner talk about making regular contributions to retirement accounts - something I'd heard for decades. But there was something about how he explained the process that really resonated with me that day and when I got home from that walk, I immediately started making those contributions.
Now, it's not like I don't have anything in my retirement accounts. I'm actually doing okay. But it was weighing on me that I wasn't contributing regularly. And the moment I made that change, I. FELT. AWESOME.
But I didn't really have anyone to share it with. It's tacky to talk about money and who would really care that I had started making a contribution that I was proud of? Who...other than MY FINANCIAL ADVISOR? It would have been amazing if my financial advisor had been as excited as I was about making this change - especially because it was something I didn't feel like I could share with anyone else.
2. Financial Planning is a Process
Piggy-backing on on number 1, I know that financial planners are constantly talking about what we SHOULD be doing (usually to the point where we all feel guilty if we're not). But what about when we ACTUALLY DO IT?
I would guess that most financial planners don't acknowledge that huge step we take as investors - even if it's $50/month - even though they've been telling us all along that we should do it. But, again, who other than our financial professionals know that we've done it? Everyone needs a pat on the back every once in a while - especially when it comes to achieving long-term goals.
3. Financial Planning Takes Time
I'm not telling you something that you don't already know - financial planning offers very little instant gratification. You're suggesting to people that they might need to give up on something they want NOW in order to plan for something decades in the future.
That's not always an easy sell.
But creating milestones along the way that acknowledge the hard work of saving for the future might make things more palatable. It's such an "adult" thing to do and - I don't know about you - I feel really good when I do those things (like make wellness appointments or complete home improvement projects).
Again, as adults we don't always get the accolades that we all crave. No one says, "I'm SO PROUD OF YOU for going to the dentist!" - but we still feel really good when we do it and sometimes we'd like to share that pride with someone else.
So, we've determined that acknowledging milestones when it comes to financial planning will most likely make our clients feel really good. But how do we do it?
You know your clients and your business model better than anyone. Starting with Kristi's example, even a congratulatory email for a potential new client who has just made an appointment with you would be a great start. But how about other celebrations along the way? I would love it if my financial advisor acknowledged that I've been investing for 5, 10, 20 years - I might have even lost track of how long I've been doing it, but if they pointed it out, I'd feel pretty darn good.
Is there a way you can make achieving those milestones more fun? I know that, for the most part, we don't want our clients looking at their investment portfolios daily, but what if instead of just sending clients bland reports about their retirement accounts you changed how they looked at them? What if you focused their attention not on the drudgery of saving, but the rewards that come with planning ahead? "Congratulations! Your retirement account has topped $50k. You've reached 'I Might Go To Aruba When I Retire' Status!" with an article about travel.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to acknowledging your clients for all their hard work. I would suggest asking yourself the following and coming up with a plan:
1. What would motivate my ideal client to keep investing?
2. How can I make them feel good along the way?
3. How can I create a memorable "investment moment" that will not only give them a sense of pride...but will make them feel like I'm with them on this journey?