This story led Connors to his own realization as a financial planner: "Just checking the boxes doesn't guarantee the client will be happy.” Having reached retirement, he said, “Many clients have money. They have options, but they are miserable. That spurred a crucial shift at iWealth, Connors’ practice: The Tomorrow Story, and the For Days Coming (FDC) Plan on Purpose tool.
“For years I've used e-Money as a planning tool and Redtail as my CRM. What was missing was a tool to integrate a client’s specific, personal information — the thinking behind their decisions around matters like Social Security benefits or long-term care insurance; the most gratifying elements of their job; the activities they want to pursue in the next chapter of life: their Tomorrow Story. We created Plan on Purpose to engage the client in writing that story. E-Money and Money Guide Pro are great tools. This tool fits alongside them so clients have a better picture of what they are working toward and what their advisor is doing for them.”
Retirement is more than achieving the magic number.
Visualization in the planning process is key.
Engaged planning clients are easier to retain.
Every retiree knows there is a number they need to meet in order to be able to retire. What they forget is that the number doesn’t necessarily bring a fulfilling retirement. Being able to define purpose and to visualize what retirement will look and feel like is just as important as the magic number.
Connors leans into visualization through an avatar. “When a client walks in, they select a picture — Rome, or a boat, or fishing, or being with family. When it’s a couple, both pick their own. That’s so important because you want to establish a unique relationship with each person. I find that when the discussion is anchored to the avatar, clients are usually much more engaged. It helps them keep their eye on what they feel will make them happy.”
The "R Factor"
Connors borrows from strategic coach Dan Sullivan’s well-known question: “What has to happen for you to be happy when you are sitting in this chair 12 months from now?” Each client meeting starts with a look at the client’s avatar and ends by updating what needs to happen over the next 12 months. This helps to maintain a positive focus in every conversation.
This is where the advisor and client document the relevant elements of the story and plan — tax planning, wills, power of attorney, health care, family meeting, Social Security, with a time/date stamp that syncs back to the CRM. Second-page items are reviewed together at every client meeting. The client has a lifetime plan score that they can see growing as they complete various goals with the advisor.
Importantly, addressing and readdressing financial planning needs and personal visualization helps address three of the most pressing challenges facing financial planners. It creates a deeper client relationship, a more satisfying client experience, and a differentiated service level to attract and retain clients. According to Connors, “If all you do is go through a performance report and talk about a couple things, you're not providing much value. When your client is able to easily see where they are in their planning journey – the things they’ve accomplished and what is still outstanding in their lifetime plan, there's perceived value. I believe they become stickier clients because they're part of the process. They understand it's not just about alpha,¹ beta,2 and rate of return versus the S&P 500.3 It’s about their tomorrow and what brings them joy.”
You can access the full discussion on The Flexible Advisor, wherever you get your podcasts.
- 1 Alpha measures the amount that the investment has returned in comparison to the market index or other broad benchmark that it is compared against. (Banton, 2022)
- 2 Beta measures the relative volatility of an investment. It is an indication of its relative risk. (Banton, 2022)
- Banton, C. (2022, May 13). Alpha vs. Beta: What Is The Difference? Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/102714/whats-difference-between-alpha-and-beta.asp
- 3 The S&P 500 Index, or Standard & Poor's 500 Index, is a market-capitalization-weighted-index of 500 leading publicly traded companies in the U.S. (Kenton, 2023)
- Kenton, W. (2023, March 23). Understanding S&P 500 Index – Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sp500.asp