Could “less be more” in financial planning?
The truth is, most prospects and clients don’t need a 30-page financial plan. Virtually none of them want one or will even read the whole thing if you and your team take the hours required to create one. In fact, trends show that a one-page plan is gaining prominence.
Clients simply want answers to their most pressing financial questions, fast. Modern consumers are waning in the desire to engage in a 3-week process to get basic advice.
The truth is that the industry has already recognized this. But there are a few reasons that advisors continue to provide lengthy financial plans to clients:
- That’s what traditional financial planning software provides as an output
- It feels good to be thorough and advisors want to ensure accuracy
- It shows the client how much work an advisory practice does on their behalf and helps justify fees
- Some client situations are complicated and demand sophisticated analysis
Some of these are, of course, great reasons.
Unfortunately, providing lengthy financial plans cuts against two important advisor objectives: delivering great client experiences and building efficient processes in our practice. It also means you can’t start to show immediate value with prospects or less complex clients you’re trying to get into your pipeline.
A Client-Focused Approach
As consumer expectations continue to evolve, advisors need to be in touch with what prospects and clients actually want. Giving them what the industry always given them won’t last. An advisor needs to figure out how to give them accurate answers quickly or they’ll find someone who will.
Most clients come to an advisor with a specific financial pain point that may be blocking them on the road to retirement. Helping them tackle that problem helps you immediately add value and build the trust that can lead to a long-lasting relationship. Help them not only see if they are on track for retirement, but teach them how to budget for a new child’s college fund or look at their plans to buy a vacation home more realistically.
It’s Also About Efficiency
Make no mistake, fintechs are moving beyond simply robo advice and figuring out how to deliver personalized guidance. Take Personal Capital for example. They’ve built a $20b+ RIA by offering basic financial planning online for free followed by more sophisticated advice, delivered by a specialist, when a client situation calls for it. Advisories must evolve if we want to continue our growth. What Personal Capital was able to do is give people who were unsure about whether they wanted to pay advisory fees a chance to dip their toe into the pool before jumping in, adding early value in a personalized format.
As the industry continues to see fee compression, advisors also need to focus on efficiency. Sure, some complex financial questions require lots of time and effort and a sophisticated financial plan. But for many clients something simple and streamlined will suffice in giving the client a good experience and great advice while allowing us to not spend hours and hours tweaking assumptions.
Interestingly, focusing on delivering better financial planning experiences more efficiently will also allow advisors to grow their practices. Efficiency helps uncover time to build marketing and operational segmentation strategies so that practices can offer younger consumers and the children and grandchildren of our best clients the quality service and advice they deserve – while not waiting until a life event to engage with heirs who are likely to fire the advisor who waited too long to build a relationship. Extra time helps advisors find ways to engage with webinar and seminar participants and employees at local companies in a way that builds trust and leads to future business, or schedule referral events.
If an advisor does all of this, yes, less is more in financial planning. Everyone wins.
Building a Simpler Financial Planning Experience
So what does a simpler financial planning that offers a better client experience look like?
One critical way that advisors can adopt a more streamlined planning module is through technology, namely technology that can do more with less, leading to an improved experience for both the client and the advisor. One example is technology that employs conversational AI – a type of artificial intelligence that enables consumers to interact with computer applications the way they would with other humans through natural language. The technology is complex, but the experience for a client or prospect feels simple and comfortable – not to mention a reduced number of inputs required means fewer drop-offs.
Advances in technology can help you go even deeper. For example, what if you could shorten the initial conversation to minutes? Would it be through different assumptions? Or a virtual session that not only remembers somebody’s answers, but gives them the freedom to ask whatever they want? And then build on their persona over time? Or all of the above. The result: A planning platform that is so sophisticated that it creates extreme simplicity for users.
Not If, But When and How
Advisors are increasingly accepting that a simplified, lighter type of planning is a critical part of their practice. The question is becoming less of whether to incorporate this technology, but which provider makes the most sense. Consider TIFIN Plan. With more than 15 microplanning scenarios available in an AI-driven, easy-to-use and affordable platform, TIFIN Plan can help you plan more efficiently today. Book a short demo to learn more.