The Client-centred Blog

Asking essential financial planning questions: the ones that no one else thinks to ask

Asking more questions creates value

This article looks at an important aspect of asking financial planning questions that often gets neglected and yet can add massive value.

Often, financial advice is triggered when something happens or is going to happens in a client’s life. For instance, the sale of a business, divorce, or an upcoming retirement.

Financial advisers are used to dealing with the money but there is another aspect of change which is often overlooked and this can be a huge disservice to the client.

The significance of life transitions

Imagine you own a business. It is like your baby and you nurtured it from birth, through the growth years and into maturity. You have poured your heart and soul into it and you have experienced every emotion possible along the way and have a thousand stories to tell.

It is time to sell but are you emotionally ready?

Whatever significant roles you have in life, an upcoming change can bring with it more challenges than just the financial ones.

Meaning is everything

Some years ago I learned about the work of Lyndon Duke. He was a psychologist who studied something called the linguistics of suicide. Through examining the language in thousands of suicide notes Lyndon began to see a recurring pattern. He found that people who commit suicide perceive their lives to be of no or little meaning.

There is a wider implication to this. Essentially, we become psychologically happy, high functioning, and productive human beings when our lives have meaning.

When a significant life event such as selling a business, divorce, or retirement happens it can easily create a void of meaning in a person’s life.

The nature of modern life

As Frederic M. Hudson observed in his book ‘Life Launch’, our lives will have many cycles and chapters and we will experience endings, transitions, and new beginnings.

Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross observed that grief could be divided into 5 stages:


Experiencing a significant life transition will often mean a person going through some version of the above before settling into a ‘new normal’. When people are not prepared the consequences can be serious.

Ask more questions

When your client is facing a significant life change, or a transition, are you exploring the wider context with them?

Although an ever-increasing number of financial planners are now realising the value of increasing their skill set, including asking questions, some hold back. So, what is it that stops financial planners asking more questions?

1. Making assumptions

There can be many reasons we make assumptions, which is the complete opposite of asking questions. It can be being in too much of a hurry. Feeling under pressure to complete the business. Or just a habit. Making assumptions can seem like the path of least resistance and yet it diminishes conversations and relationships.

2. Going into problem solving mode

If a client shares a problem you know you can solve, what do you do? Many advisers jump on it straight away. They see an opportunity to win business, prove their expertise, or just because they are trained to solve problems and it looks helpful. But how do you know if the first thing that comes up is the real problem? In fact, it probably isn’t.

3. Fear of the unknown

When you get deeply curious by asking more questions you are exploring the unknown. This goes completely against the advice of many so called ‘experts’ who tell you that must maintain control of a meeting. Yet wouldn’t it be better to know that you can confidently handle absolutely anything that might come up in a conversation?

Asking essential financial planning questions: the ones that no one else thinks to ask

Financial planning questions are most powerful when they are spontaneous, within an appropriate context, and cause the recipient to pause and reflect.

The most challenging element of this for advisers is not about knowing what question to ask and when. It is curbing the desire to talk and allowing yourself to be deeply curious instead.

P.S. Do you want to become a master of asking great questions? If so, check out the exciting new resource, ‘Financial Planning Power Questions’.


Leave a Comment

Related articles

The right way to set financial planning goals
In this article, you are going to discover how to help your clients set financial planning goals, the right way. You are also going to learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy goals and how this makes a massive difference to your client’s level of motivation, inspiration, and enjoyment of life now.
Highly effective rapport building for financial planners
A deep rapport with your client is the foundation for a productive, profitable, and long-lasting relationship. Therefore, being highly effective at quickly building and maintaining a deep rapport is an essential skill for financial planners.
A simple guide to influencing financial planning clients
Do you want to become more effective at influencing financial planning clients? In this simple guide I explore one of the most crucial factors of influence you can apply immediately for better results.
One of the best financial planning questions and how to use it
Often, the best financial planning questions are the ones that help a client to open up and think more deeply. Why is this important? Because the impact of your financial planning and advice is directly correlated to quality of the information you gather from your client.
Should you take notes in a financial planning meeting?
What is the right approach to note taking in financial planning meetings? This is a question that often comes up in my coaching programmes with financial planners. So, let's take a closer look.
4 ways to create massive value financial planning meetings
How to do a brilliant financial planning fact find
Doing a brilliant financial planning fact find underpins everything that you do for a client. It is what differentiates you from other financial planners and is a golden opportunity to build exceptional relationships and provide massive value. But there are also two very different elements to fact finding.
The hidden secret to high-impact financial planning meetings
Do you want to have your financial planning meetings be high-impact, high-engagement experiences for both your clients and you? Of course! We all want this, don't we?
5 steps financial planners can take to becoming a better listener
As a financial planner what value is there in becoming a better listener? Is it worth your time, effort, and focus to improve? This article explores the value of deep listening and 5 practical steps you can take to immediately become a better listener.
How financial planners can build instant trust with clients
As a financial planner building instant trust with clients is one of the biggest obstacles you will need to overcome. This article looks at a different yet highly effective approach.
What is the most important financial planning question of all?
Do you want to have greater impact with your clients, create more value, and escape the diminishing world of transactional financial advice? If so, there is an important financial planning question.
Presenting your clients financial plan - the key to success
How to get more financial planning referrals
Would you like to generate more high quality financial planning referrals?
Great people skills - in an instant!
Is it possible to have great people skills in an instant?
How to ask great financial planning questions
Asking great financial planning questions is the bedrock of gathering the information you need to create a highly compelling plan for your client.
Why is your financial planning practice culture the key to delivering exceptional service?
Are you committed to delivering exceptional client service? If so, employees who genuinely care, communicate well, and take responsibility are the key. The foundation of this resides in the business culture you create.
Are your financial planning conversations too nice?
What is the difference between a financial advisory conversation and a financial planning conversation?
Should Financial Planners stop talking about retirement?
Why should financial planners choose their language carefully in their financial planning conversations with clients?
Understanding your client’s world – key number 1
Financial Advice is so often delivered in very unimaginative ways that has little difference to how the majority of practitioners deliver it.