Big Picture Finance: How Visual Aids Can Grow Your Business

Picture this: a client comes to you wondering if the market is really the best place for their investments right now since it’s been struggling to recover. You’re going on minute five of why withdrawing funds now is the worst move in the market and why their retirement timeline is perfectly suited to riding out the lows. Churchill himself never gave a more rousing speech! Except their eyes are glazing over… they’re completely checked out, and you can’t help thinking that if you could just get it to click for them, these concepts could help their lives. Or maybe you’re hosting a series of webinars on Investing 101 to connect with prospects, but you haven’t been able to get much traction, much less business growth. How do you get financial information to make sense to people who aren’t necessarily numbers-minded? How do you become known as the advisor who helps complicated things make sense without making people feel stupid or overwhelmed? And how do you use this to grow your business? It turns out a picture is worth a thousand words for a reason, and it also might be worth quite a few prospects and referrals as well.

Visually communicated information is processed 60,000 times faster than text. Your brain views words as individual images that it needs to recognize and interpret, making it less efficient than interpreting data from an image, even if that image is comprised of multiple parts. - Kalli Collective

The Power of Visuals

There are a lot of different learning styles out there, most often categorized according to the VARK model: Visual, Auditory, Reading and Writing, or Kinesthetic (hands-on/tactile). While most people learn best from a combination of styles, 65% of the population identify as visual learners. This isn’t surprising at all when you consider the crazy power of visual aids in creating memories.

  • Visual aids help your brain store information longer. How you receive information determines where your brain stores it and how long it stays in the memory vault. According to Dr. Lynell Burmark, CEO at and author of “Visual Literacy: Learn to See, See to Learn,” visual aids improve retention.
    • “Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about seven bits of information (plus or minus 2) […]. Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.” 
  • They make it faster and easier to get information across. Visually communicated information is processed 60,000 times faster than text. Your brain views words as individual images that it needs to recognize and interpret, making it less efficient than interpreting data from an image, even if that image is comprised of multiple parts. No wonder it’s so much easier to understand data in a pie chart than a disposition!
  • Visual aids improve comprehension capacity.  Being able to visualize data or new information improves your ability to absorb, comprehend, and analyze new information. A study found that visual learning aids helped students understand the “components and concepts that are invisible and difficult to integrate into the formation of a mental model.” Simply put, seeing a graph, diagram, or creative image representing a concept makes it easier to understand how every piece of data or factor contributes to the big picture.
  • They help make boring topics more interesting. It’s way more fun to learn about something you’re interested in to begin with. If the subject matter is more of a drag or new territory, visual learning aids make it easier to absorb the information, which can create a snowball effect to drive motivation.

Good Optics

You could probably talk about the implications of the SECURE Act 2.0 on pre-retirees for a while because you’re passionate about the possibilities it opens up for people you are actively trying to help. But is your audience going to stick with you through a 30- or even 15-minute speech about it? Probably not. Your clients come to you because these things don’t make them tick or even necessarily make sense to them in the first place. Prospects perk their ears up when you come across as a trustworthy knowledge source who can make the intimidating world of financial planning feel easy. Incorporating visual tools into your marketing is a great way to reinforce your value to existing clients (don’t forget about them!), making them more likely to talk you up to their friends and families. It’s also the perfect way to reach prospects while setting the tone for future potential interactions. “We get this stuff can be confusing and overwhelming; We’re here to help.”

How to Fill In the Blanks

  • Your core processes. What can prospects expect from you? That first meeting can be pretty intimidating, but adding a visual representation of each step to your website can take the pressure off. Keep it simple and easy to navigate. This is likely new territory for a prospect, and removing as many barriers as possible can mean the difference between a conversion and getting ghosted.
  • Turn jargon into a graph. Why should clients stay in the market during a down year? Instead of reliving your time on the debate team, make a few graphs to illustrate different hypothetical scenarios. Seeing that line graph climb upward sends a more powerful message a lot faster.
  • Progress tracking for clients. Colors often have common value associations. Green equals good, red equals trouble spot, and yellow for slow– you get the idea. Using colors to communicate values is an easy and effective way to communicate information. Help your clients visualize their retirement or other life goal progress by color-coding the information (“Good news, you’re on track for the kids’ college funds! Let’s give a little more love to your retirement fund”). 
  • Marketing visuals to show your value. Are the images on your socials mostly text? There’s a good chance your audience is scrolling on by. Images can help prospects see the value in what you bring to the table. Use creative graphs, graphics, or photos depicting life milestones to communicate the value of working with a financial advisor vs. going it alone. Just avoid falling into the infomercial stereotype of an over-the-top grey scale “before” and keep in line with SEC regulations for social media.

There are a few things to keep in mind when diving into the world of visual aids. Fund companies offer a lot of visuals you can use in meetings, but the downside is that they’re branded for them, not you. Still, they can provide a useful starting point and are much more helpful than none at all. Whatever you use, make sure it’s appropriate to the material, engaging, and fits your brand guidelines. Poor visuals cause frustration and can make your audience feel isolated and out of the loop. On top of that, if the visuals you post to your social media platforms don’t match your brand colors, fonts, and visual styles, it looks like the information came from someone else, potentially undermining your credibility or professionalism. Read up on our brand guidelines to make sure everything hits just right.

Drawing a Crowd

Congratulations! You just became an advisor who is easy to understand, good at teaching about financial planning, and makes it a lot easier for clients and prospects to have that lightbulb moment. Adding visuals can help you lose the jargon, connect with your audience, and go from finance bro to finance bestie.

Related: How To Stand Out in an Inbox in 7 Easy Steps