The Client-centred Blog

Financial planning is about more than your client’s goals

An external goal is a vehicle, never the ultimate destination

What do your clients really want from their financial planning?

Do you want to vastly improve your client engagement at your next client meeting? It’s time to more deeply explore your client’s goals. What do they really want from their financial planning? Let’s explore the basis behind a client’s external goals, and take a closer look at the root of those goals – their internal values.

I spoke with a financial planner client of mine recently who was about to give a presentation on financial planning at a large industry event.

He said that he had spoken to several financial advisers who will be attending and some of them had said how much they were looking forward to him speaking about goals.

These remarks caused him to make some changes to his presentation because, as he said:

“What clients really want is peace of mind.”

Peace of mind is an internal value, not an external goal; but what’s the difference?

Let’s conduct a little experiment (it will help if you actually do this and it takes very little time).

Firstly, write down your answers to the following question:

What would you do with an extra £3000 per month?

Next, write down your answers to this question:

What would an extra £3000 per month do for you?

Even though the questions may seem very similar, for most people the answers to each question will be significantly different.

The first question tends to elicit external goals and actions such as paying off debt, having more holidays or improving my home.

The second tends to elicit internal values and desired states of mind such as peace of mind, more freedom or not having to worry.

Why is this distinction important?

Because external goals are a vehicle, never the destination.

People choose a particular goal because of the meaning it has for them and the feeling they think it will give them. No exception.

Most advisers tend to elicit a goal from a client (if they do it at all) and then jump in with “I can help you with that.”

But you want to slow it right down.

Explore further. For instance, you can ask questions like:

*What’s most important to you about that goal?
*Imagine you have achieved that goal, what does that do for you or give you?
*What will be different in your life because of achieving this goal?

Find out through being deeply curious what the goal behind the goal is. What feeling or value is behind the external goal?

What is the point of this exploration?

Because the better you understand the clients goals and the values behind them, the more opportunity you have to help your client experience those internal states right now.

Why would you want your client to wait 10, 20 or 30 years to get the benefits of the goal?

You want them to feel the benefits right now because it is quality of life now that matters, not at some point way out in the future somewhere, even if that future is part of their external goals.

Mastering the art of exploring ‘the goal behind the goal’ is a learning curve.

Many advisers feel uncomfortable with it, so they talk techno-babble instead and then wonder why they don’t get better client engagement.

But you cannot avoid the learning curve. It is an essential part of the process of mastering anything.

So the next client meeting you have, consider asking some of those questions. Get to the goal behind the goal as best you can, so you can help your client achieve both their external goals and those desired internal values. Give them the peace of mind they really want and gain better client engagement through goal exploration.

P.S. Here is a short video I made called ‘Are your clients emotionally engaged?’ Click here to view.

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