The Client-centred Blog

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.

Let us be honest and say that pretty much anyone can complete a fact find full of hard facts. You ask for the information and someone retrieves it from their memory or at least knows where to go and get it. 

It is not a requirement to establish a deep human connection, absolute trust, or be an outstandingly good listener to gather hard facts.

Hard facts are, of course, necessary information but they are only half the story.

Because there are also soft facts. 

These can be wide ranging and include attitudes, expectations, opinions, views, feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, and concerns. 

Soft fact gathering is where the rubber hits the road 

Do a brilliant job (and keep doing it) with a comprehensive financial planning fact find and you’ll be a long way towards having a client for life. Do a poor job and you will fail to connect with your client in anything but a superficial way. And any subsequent financial advice will lose relevance and context. 

What is one of the most common questions I hear from financial planners who want to better engage their clients and potential clients?

How do I get clients to open up to me?

The training to become a qualified financial planner does not prepare you for effectively gathering soft facts. The process is not given the respect it deserves because all the focus is upon technical knowledge.

Soft fact gathering is a completely different process to gathering hard facts. For instance, the nature of soft facts is that they are generally not stored in a person’s memory. So, to get meaningful answers to your soft fact questions you need to create a certain environment. 

Some of the core elements of this are:

1. You have a quiet mind 

Why is your quality of presence and attention so important? Because gathering soft facts is not a form filling exercise, like hard fact gathering. To be effective you must be fully present, deeply engaged, have absolute involvement, stay curious, and listen deeply.

2. Safety

Your client must feel secure and that they are not being judged, evaluated, or seen as the next piece of business. The biggest influencer in this is your state of mind. Click here for how to build instant trust.

3. Space to reflect and think

Because someone will often need time to reflect and think to answer soft fact questions you must allow space. This means you being comfortable with silence and not being tempted to jump in if you begin to feel uncomfortable. I highly recommend the book, ‘Time to think’ by Nancy Kline on creating a thinking environment.

4. Patience

If you are in a hurry, it will drastically weaken your ability to connect with your client and build deep trust.

5. Emotional engagement

The hallmark of soft facts, unlike hard facts, is they require emotional engagement. This is best achieved conversationally and in a natural relaxed way (not in a form filling way or like it is an interrogation). 

6. Avoid problem solving

Advisers can have a tendency to jump on problems they hear from clients far too quickly. Leave the problem solving until a subsequent meeting. Michael Bungay Stanier has written a great book on this called, ‘The advice trap’.

7. Forget the idea there is a ‘right way’ of doing a financial planning fact find

If we get the idea in our mind that there is a ‘right way’ to do a financial planning fact find then our mind will be occupied with evaluating how we think we are doing. So, forget this idea and allow the process to be natural, flowing, and intuitive.

8. Hard fact gathering and soft fact gathering mix like oil and water

If you are filling out a fact find with hard facts (with a client) this is rarely an appropriate time to move into a soft fact conversation, and vice versa. This is because soft fact gathering requires a reflective state of mind, which is a different state of mind to gathering hard facts. You can easily ruin a great soft fact conversation if you then move into a hard fact conversation.

If you pay attention to these key points, then doing a brilliant financial planning fact find will become your consistent way of operating. In turn, this will lead to better client engagement, more business, and an increase in referrals.

P.S. You can read more about ‘What makes a client want to engage a financial planner’ by clicking here.


Leave a Comment

Related articles

Deep rapport and why it matters
Rapport is an essential element in creating strong, productive and lasting client relationships. It is also a highly significant factor in not only the provision of financial planning and advice, but also whether your client follows it. Below is a link to an audio recording (18m39s) where I take a look at:
The 8 keys to inspiring financial planning meetings every time!
There are specific and predictable keys that result in inspiring financial planning meetings every time. And by paying attention and making consistent progress with each key, you are: 1. No longer leaving the quality of your meetings to chance. 2. Raising the bar to an exceptionally high level. In this article I list the 8 essential keys that contribute to an inspiring, repeatable process.
The 12 client-centred mind shifts - part 2
You almost certainly have clients that are worried about their finances, what might happen in future, and if they are doing the right things. We are living in challenging times. Some advisers avoid their clients at times like this. They don't want to tell them their investments have gone down or be faced with having to explain themselves.
The most powerful two word financial planning question
This articles shares a two-word financial question that can significantly increase the value of financial planning for a client. It is also be great for opening up new business opportunities too. So, let me share how I was inspired to write this post.
Top 10 ways to capture and keep your financial planning client’s attention
To make financial planning meaningful and a good investment for your client it requires them to be fully engaged and do their best thinking in your meetings. Yet we also live in a society where an ever-increasing number of things are competing for our attention. People have shorter and shorter attention spans. So, how do you capture and keep your financial planning client’s attention?
Top 10 coaching books for financial planners
If you are doing genuine financial planning where you are helping your client identify and accomplish their goals and live the life they want then coaching them is a necessity. After all, life is full of distractions and people come off track all the time. For example, people can lose focus or their sense of purpose. From time to time they may feel discouraged, disheartened, or overwhelmed.
How to run magical financial planning review meetings - every time
When a client relationship is new it will feel fresh, engaging, and there will often be a lot to do. You are getting to know your client, they are getting to know you, and important issues are being dealt with. But how do you keep financial planning review meetings fresh, insightful, and inspiring, year after year?
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
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.
Asking essential financial planning questions: the ones that no one else thinks to ask
This article looks at an important aspect of asking financial planning questions that often get neglected. 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.
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.