The Data Point That Scared Me (and Should Scare You)

I won’t make you wait for this one. Here’s the data point that scared me from our latest investor research.

At the risk of stating the obvious, that means that two thirds of clients weren’t asked about if or how the pandemic had impacted how they think about their financial future.  

So why is that so frightening?

Because at the same time, three quarters of clients say the pandemic has impacted what is important to them or how they think about the future. It's a classic gap.

Clients say:

Every one of these changes will have some impact on your clients' plans or, at a minimum, how you support them in reaching their goals.  

And that means, of course, that we really need to be asking clients about the impact of the pandemic on how they think about the future.

But I Have Had That Conversation

Many years of sharing client data with advisors has taught me one thing. Clients don't have perfect recall; but perception is everything.

It’s entirely possible that more than a third of advisors have asked about the future, in light of the pandemic. And if that’s the case, then we have a different problem.

The conversation isn’t landing.

Too often important conversations get buried in small talk. A critical question such as ‘how has the pandemic impacted how you think about your future’ becomes ‘how are you feeling about things’? Good? Let’s move on.  

Here’s what we know.

  • Clients are not always good at articulating how they are feeling.
  • Clients may not know exactly how they are feeling.
  • Clients may be narrowly focused on the technical work that you do and fail to mention broader feelings that could impact their plan.
  • Clients may not be comfortable sharing, believing they are the only people who feel a certain way.
  • Clients may not feel they have the ‘right’ to think about a different, brighter future when so many have suffered during this time in our history.

As their 'guide', it’s your job to ask the difficult questions, to create the space they need to think and to help them understand the connection between those thoughts and feelings and their financial plan

So what to do?

1.     Ask the question. How do you think the last 18 months has changed what is important to you or how you think about your future?

2.     Pause. Give them time to think.

3.     Dig deeper. Follow up with questions that help them clarify they own thinking. For example, do you want to spend more or less time doing certain activities or being with certain people? Do you place more or less value on certain activities?

4.     Bring it back to the plan. Connect the dots between how they describe their feelings, fears or aspirations and their financial plan.

Thanks for stopping by.

Related: The Reason You Don’t Meet Most of the Referrals That Are Made