6 Ways to Present More Impactful Financial Plans

6 Ways to Present More Impactful Financial Plans

Financial advisors have the tall task of tailoring plan presentations to a diverse client base with wide-ranging needs. Here are some easy tips to make your presentations more impactful:

1.  Be straightforward

People respond best to straightforward language. Abstract, jargon-filled communication can make clients suspicious. As a result, they’ll be less likely to speak up about concepts they don’t understand. When presenting a financial plan to a client, make sure to use concrete language and easily digestible analogies.

Of course, sometimes technical language is necessary. In these instances, jargon can be educational! Explain what it means, and the client will come away feeling like he or she has learned something.

2.  Explain the right way

Make it clear to clients that you aren’t assuming that they’re ignorant. For example, you can frame explanations as due diligence that you do in every session. Additionally, building expository phrases like “A lot of people have different ideas about…” and “So let me go over that real quickly” into your explanations can create a more open and collaborative atmosphere.

3.  Adapt to the situation

Every client is different. A crucial first step is understanding your clients’ preferred communication styles. Some might prefer meeting in person and going over a hard copy report, while others might opt to make that interaction digital or sign up for online advisor-led sessions.

An in-person report is likely best suited to clients familiar with traditional models of advisor/client engagement. These clients probably want a tangible financial plan that they can hold and review, as it provides both a physical reference point and a springboard for future conversations.

In contrast, digital engagement might be more appealing for younger clients who expect dynamic, real-time updates. Being able to immediately see the impact of changing variables in their financial plan can engage them more, which often leads to additional information sharing. In these instances, the delivery meeting also becomes a second discovery session, as clients share additional financial goals, concerns, external assets, future inflows and other pertinent details. Not only does this information aid you in discovery, it also allows you to immediately adjust your modeling and real-time plan updates.

Finally, advisor-led solutions through online portals can be an attractive fit for clients who travel frequently or are simply too far away for in-person meetings. Additionally, for advisors looking to reach a niche client base (e.g. tech-oriented clients), an online portal mitigates geographical limitations.

4.  Break it down

The full scope of a financial plan can be overwhelming. One way to avoid this? Ask the client to envision the report not as individual pages, but as three main sections: Goals, Assets/Liabilities and Recommendations. This introduction creates a logical flow for the planning discussion.

Use this moment to explain the purpose of each section. First, reiterate that the plan is based on your initial discussions. Then stress that the plan is meant to be a living illustration and encourage them to share additional details that they may have left out previously.

Starting with a review of the client’s goals affirms that you listened during the discovery process, are keyed into their needs, and have a plan to address those needs. Don’t be surprised if the plan you initially created gets derailed in this first section. Often, when a client sees his or her goals laid out in writing, that triggers further discussion and “What If” questions (What if we want to retire earlier? What if we want to move into a bigger home? What if we want to fund our grandchild’s’ college education?) Encourage these detours, as they provide opportunities for clients to volunteer additional details.

Once goals are established, the conversation should lead to a discussion of Assets and Liabilities. This is another moment where providing clients with plenty of time to view all the assets in the plan may lead to further disclosures. Even simple questions such as “Have I missed anything?” while reviewing the accounts summary page can yield tremendous results.

Finally, the Recommendations section presents an opportunity to provide a comprehensive review of results based on your current strategy. Then you can compare these results against your recommendations in areas such as asset allocation, annual savings, spending goals, time horizons and insurance.

5.  Don’t forget you’re having a conversation

A flexible conversational flow is obviously beneficial for everyone. Practice active listening, encourage feedback and be aware of detours. That doesn’t mean avoid them. Following off-road discussions can lead to vital new discoveries that add dimension to the whole plan.

6.  Make room for questions

When it comes to big decisions, it’s natural for clients to have big questions. Anticipate them — and have responses ready.

Don’t forget that when presenting a plan, you have a wealth of technology options at your disposal. Being fluent in these opportunities can help turn prospects into clients!