Useful Analogies Provide Clarity


Analogies make what we’re trying to say so much clearer. Here are some helpful ones to get familiar with and how you can use them to clarify how you help and why you work like you do.

  • Identify analogies that will help you clearly communicate what you do and how you work.
  • Practice saying the analogies so they are succinct and effective.
  • Stick with what you’ve practiced—using the same words, painting the same pictures time after time because you know they work.

Related: Gaining Perspective: Overcoming Fears to Connect with Prospects


Analogies make what we’re trying to say so much clearer. Here are some key ones to keep up your sleeve.

Recently, I finished speaking at an event, and I was sitting around a table with a group of advisors talking about analogies—the power of an illustration to make a point. I mentioned how I loved using analogies when I was a financial advisor, and they asked me to share a couple of my favorites. . .

One of them was regarding why we focus on using financial plans when we begin with new clients. “It’s kind of like building your dream home—you’d simply never start that without a blueprint.” When you say this, slow down. You’re stating something that’s blatantly obvious, but by slowing down, you give time for it so sink in their minds so they make the clear connection to why they need a financial plan.

Another was used to explain to prospects why we wanted to see all the elements of their financial landscape. “We’re not going to press you to bring all of your accounts to us, but we do need to see everything you have and where it is so we can give you the best, most appropriate advice. It’s kind of like going to a doctor but refusing to weigh in or have them take your blood pressure. You’d actually be removed from their practice. There are some basics the doctor needs to know to get a handle on exactly what’s happening. When you start seeing a new doctor, you’re going to often fill out a four- to six-page questionnaire, ticking boxes to let them see exactly what kind of lifestyle you’re leading. It’s kind of like that regarding getting a handle on exactly what you’ve got and where it is.” And then you pause and let that sink in.

A third analogy was about the need for addressing seemingly boring issues. “We do talk about some seemingly boring, mundane issues—things like insurance or risk management, things like a living trust, having those POAs set up. They’re things that people initially find a little boring because they want to talk about investments. But think about when you bought your last home—no one gets excited about a house’s foundation. We want to walk through and see how pretty the home is. We don’t even think twice about the foundation. But the foundation is most important to make sure that home is going to last. We come from the Bay Area. So especially when you’re living in the San Francisco area or living in Florida weather conditions, the strength of your foundation has a huge impact on your home. The foundation is critical. It’s just like that regarding talking about those key points in your financial landscape which you’ve got to have set down in stone.” Talk about those kinds of things, using the word “foundational.”

One more, as a bonus: when I started in this industry years ago, we were encouraged to liken ourselves to a pilot, and it’s still a common analogy I hear advisors use. “We’re the ones navigating the plane. You’re on board, and we’re heading toward our desired destination.” But I liked to mention to prospects who may have heard that from other advisors the problem with that picture: “The problem with that is at 35,000 feet up in the air, going at 400 miles an hour, you can’t get out of the plane even if you want to. And that means I’m in control as the advisor, and you’re not. So that’s why we don’t use that analogy, because you’re in control, but we’re working with you. We look at what we do as more like air traffic control. We’re in constant communication with you, and we’re also watching these blips on the radar to make sure we’re navigating with you to land you safely where you want to get to so you can enjoy the choices you want to experience there. We are seeing things like inflation. We are watching interest rates closely. We are keeping our eyes open for tax increases. All these little things that, when added up, can pull you off track from where you want to get to. We want to make sure we work in partnership with you to land this plane successfully, so you get where you want to go and have fun there.

So, to use analogies most effectively,

  1. Identify appropriate analogies. Identify those analogies that are going to effectively communicate your points.

  2. Practice them so you tighten up the language, you’re succinct with your words, and you know they will consistently hit the mark every time a particular analogy.

  3. Use them. Use those specific words that you’ve been getting comfortable with. You know they’ll pay off for you. You know what’s coming through practicing them. Use them at every single opportunity you can—the exact same words, painting the exact same pictures.

You’ll stick in your clients’ and prospects’ minds. They’ll understand exactly what you said when they leave after meeting with you. Then, you shouldn’t be surprised when they call you back to say they want to take the next step with you.

I look forward to bringing you another Distraction-Proof Advisor Idea next week.