The Client-centred Blog

What is the biggest factor in successful financial planning?

Just recently I read an article by a financial planner who said that a client’s financial success comes down to the advice they get or don’t get.

This article explores why this will rarely be the case and what really creates successful financial planning.

The financial advice your client receives is just one aspect of a successful financial planning relationship. Whilst I am not under-estimating the importance of the correct financial advice there is another factor.

I want to share with you the wisdom of Andy Jervis. Andy is of co-founder of Chesterton House Financial Planning and one of the UK’s most experienced financial planners.

Andy contributed a chapter to my book ‘The Client-centred Financial Adviser‘ and this is some of what he wrote:

“As a qualified and experienced financial planner, they (clients) look to me to understand the vagaries of tax, investment, pensions and savings. They expect me to tell them where to put their money, how to structure their finances, their businesses and their professional affairs to get the best returns. So far, so commonplace.

But that’s not where the value in our relationship resides.”

So, what is Andy seeing that is even more important than the advice? He goes on to say:

“I realised long ago that influencing behavioural change is the very essence of great financial planning.  

This is a point entirely missed by many otherwise highly competent financial advisers, who believe their role is to pick the best investments, help structure portfolios and save on the costs of investing, among other things. Yet the long-term effects of these activities, important as they are, pales into insignificance compared to the adviser’s central function of keeping their client on track and helping apply a long-term discipline to a long-term activity.”

So, the greatest factor in successful financial planning is your client’s own behaviour.

One example is that people tend to come off track from their goals quickly and often. After all, life is full of distractions, right?

Another is the extremely poor choices that many people make with their finances.

How do you influence your client’s behaviour?

Andy says:

“In my experience there is only one sure way. Focus on what’s deeply important, and let your client come to his or her own realisation, unaided – except by your presence.

Doing this means asking the right questions and listening to the answer without comment. This last point is so important I’ll say it again. Without comment.

The natural human inclination is to ‘guide and advise’. We like to think we’re helping. But in reality the power in conversation is simply being there and allowing a person to come to their own realisation, unaided, except by your presence.”

Where in the qualification process to become a financial planner do you learn how to improve the quality of your presence?


Yet this is the key to:

*How deeply you connect with your client.

*The depth of trust you build.

*The quality of your listening.

*How impactful your questions are.

*Ultimately, your ability to influence your client’s behaviour.

If your clients only listen to you in a superficial way nothing will change. They are far less likely to experience the success they want and will keep making the same mistakes. And if this happens it reflects on you.


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