The Client-centred Blog

The most powerful two word financial planning question

This articles shares a two word financial planning question that can significantly increase the value of financial planning for your clients.

It is also great for opening up new business opportunities too.

So, let me share how I was inspired to write this post on the two word financial planning question.

A client and I were booked in for a meeting and when we began our conversation, I asked him the question:

“What would you most like to get from our time together today?”

He shared his answer and yet I just got the sense there was more and so I asked him:

“What else?”

I ended up asking “What else?” six times and each time something new came up. I don’t always ask the question that many times but on this occasion, it just seemed the right thing to do.

On the sixth time of asking my client said:

“I’m so glad you kept asking me because there is something really important I’d like to talk about and it had slipped my mind. If you hadn’t been persistent it probably wouldn’t have come up.”

It turned into a powerful and insightful conversation for my client as a result.

Two useful realisations

I reflected on what happened and a couple of things occurred to me.

Firstly, how useful it is to let go of your thinking during conversations and allow your mind to be free and quiet. When we do this, we will be far more intuitive and responsive to our client’s thoughts and feelings in the moment.

I’m sure I intuitively sensed to keep asking, “What else?”, which would not have happened if I had been more strictly adhering to a process.

Secondly, I recalled how one of my mentors, Christina Hall, always used to say, “There’s always more”. She said that there is always the potential to go deeper and discover more about what’s most important to someone.

The value of exploring the goal behind the goal

External goals have no inherent value. In other words, we ultimately want what we want because of the feelings we think it will give us.

So, a useful financial planning question to ask when someone shares a goal with you is, “What does that give you or what does that do for you?”

This can turn an intellectual conversation (which has no depth) into a meaningful, emotional experience.

Once they share their thoughts you can ask:

“What else?” Possibly more than once.

Sometimes there may be nothing else, but equally they might just share the most important thing in your entire meeting.

Remember to allow space

When you are asking people to reflect and think more deeply they may go quiet for a while. You may notice their eyes defocus and this is because they have ‘gone inside’.

This is a time for you to stay quiet and allow them to be in that feeling for as long as they need to be. Do not be tempted to jump in because you are uncomfortable with the silence.

The most powerful two word financial planning question

Ultimately, asking “What else?” is a result of your own curiosity and willingness to be of greater service to your client. It is an invitation to your client to think more deeply, perhaps more deeply than they have done in a long while or possibly ever before.

It will often bring up more opportunities and possibilities that would not have emerged otherwise.

And who else is going to do this for them, if it’s not you? (see also, How to do a brilliant financial planning fact find).

P.S. This question is just one of 52 in the ‘Financial Planning Power Questions’ card deck. Click here for more information.

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