This line of thinking made it into my approach with prospective clients of all types. Does this sound familiar?
“Mr. and Mrs. Jones, I would like to help you simplify your planning. Doesn’t that sound great? Blah, blah…. “
Here’s the problem: While many of your every-day retirees love to hear that, the affluent and wealthy have generally accepted that their life holds a certain degree of complexity. Trying to convince them that you can simplify their planning means that you will simply not be taken seriously. In other words, they’re not buying it. The affluent clients you want to serve simply do not believe that you can somehow simplify their wealth, and their world. The more you try to convince them that you can, the further they distance themselves from you.
As I consider the more prosperous clients that I’ve served over the years, the more I see common traits and behaviors. For example, spreadsheets are very often used by affluent clients as a way to track the complexity, but not to try to reduce it. Many books are read, not to try to reduce the complexity of the world, but to simply better understand it.
As an example, one of the most powerful ways to add clarity to complexity is through the use of financial planning software. Building a financial plan can be very complex, indeed. The number of inputs and variables can be staggering for the client who holds assets in many accounts and has a multitude of financial objectives. When you build a plan and present it in a collaborative way by making adjustments with the client’s input, you bring a priceless gift of clarity that aids decision-making and cements the relationship with the decision-makers. By embracing complexity, you bring tremendous value in clarity.
All of this leads me to a suggestion: Stop using a message of simplification to attract the affluent. Almost all of them have long-since abandoned the myth that simplicity is good, and you should abandon that myth too. If you want to attract more sophisticated clients, embrace complexity by harnessing strategies and tools that bring clarity to the situation, thus allowing for better decision-making in a complex world.
We can all agree that without a flow of qualified prospects, an advisor isn’t able to do all that much advising. We need prospects and we need them to become clients in order to build a healthy business that serves people in their financial planning needs. But I think it’s worth considering whether all prospects are created equal. Because if they’re not all the same, then should we consider treating them differently from one another? I’m not just talking about A, B, and C clients either. There’s something else going on that we really should pay attention to.