The Client-centred Blog

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.

Key number 1 – the meeting tone

Yours and your client’s state of mind is the single biggest factor in creating inspiring financial planning meetings. You can call the collective state of mind of a meeting as the tone.

Robert C. Kausens book writes in his book ‘We’ve got to start meeting like this‘:

“The higher and lighter the meeting tone, the more creative and proactive participants are and the better they feel about the meeting. A low-tone meeting, regardless of how much is accomplished, can leave people worn out and feeling it was a waste of time – or at least not worth the effort.”

As the professional person it is essential we show up to meetings with a clear and present state of mind and be able to guide our clients into clarity of mind too.

Key number 2 – Establish what your client wants from the meeting

Your client is giving up their valuable time to be in the meeting, so it is respectful to clearly understand why. Without asking you are likely to be making assumptions and these can easily be incorrect or incomplete. So, essentially you are asking, “Why are you here?”

There are many ways to ask the same question:

“What would make this meeting a brilliant use of your time?”

“How can I help you?”

“What is on your mind?”

The form of the question is far less important than the intention behind it.

Key number 3 – Elicit your clients ultimate external goal

When asking your version of “Why are you here?” you may well get an answer that relates to a product of financial situation. One example might be, “I’m here because I want to sort my pension out.”

Yet money is simply a means to an end, not an end in itself. So, what is the end that the client wants to accomplish?

If, for example, they want to talk about products and investments then explore, “For what purpose?”

You can continue to explore by using a simple two word question. Click here to find out more.

Key number 4 – Understand the goal behind the goal

External goals have no inherent value. They are always the vehicle for what your client ultimately wants, which are feelings. They want to move towards and experience feelings they value and away from feelings they don’t. An example of a ‘move toward’ is peace of mind and an ‘away from’ is worry.

You cannot guess or assume what feelings your client wants or doesn’t want . So, the reason to ask is to understand your client AND because you want them to have an emotionally engaging experience.

If you listen carefully people are always communicating their values. You can also use questions like, “What is important to you about… ? ” or “What do you get from that or what does it do for you?”, to elicit values.

An inspiring financial planning meeting happens when a client connects with their values because it creates meaning and this is fundamental to good decision making.

Key number 5 – Discover the obstacles

When you explore what your client wants then it is useful to ask, “What could stop you?” or “What do you see as the obstacles?”

There are the universally recognised ones – premature death, illness, loss of income – but it can also be surprising what can come up when you ask.

If you do not know what your client perceives as the obstacles, then how can you help them avoid them or deal with them?

Key number 6 – Listen without judgement

Habit 5 in Stephen Covey’s book, ‘The seven habits of highly effective people‘ is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Yet listening to people without judgement (or indeed many other ways we can occupy our minds when listening – evaluating, comparing, or thinking about your response) takes commitment and consistent practice.

Most people think they are far better listeners than they really are. Most are far too quick to diagnose and, as a result, do not understand their client at level where they can create greater impact.

Key number 7 – The less of you the better the meeting

The more of you there is in an interaction – your agenda, your perceived needs, your process, your urgency – the more it will lower the tone. This is the completely opposite direction to the one that you want to go in.

David H. Maister, co-author of ‘The Trusted Advisor‘ points out:

“A common trait of all these trusted advisor relationships is that the advisor places a higher value on maintaining and preserving the relationship itself than on the outcomes of the current transaction, financial or otherwise.”

Key number 8 – Agree the next step

At the end of the meeting are you and your client crystal clear on the next step?

You never want to leave a meeting with you or your client having expectations. For example, expectations of who will do what, when it will be done by, or the steps involved.

Expectations lead to all sorts of undesirable consequences, disappointment being a big one. So, creating clear agreements will work wonders for your relationships.

What you pay attention to expands

Integrating these core elements so you consistently create inspiring financial planning meetings does not happen by accident or in one meeting.

It happens by paying attention over and through time.

This is why the ‘Client-centred Academy’, which begins in January 2023 is a six month immersion experience. You get to integrate these elements (and more) through understanding, repetition and practice.

Imagine how much difference this would make to you, your clients, and your practice!

PS. Click here to go to the ‘Client-centred Academy‘ page and book your place.

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