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Should you still be talking about products?

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As a financial planning professional, you are well aware that the financial planning process involves a lot more than simple discussions about financial products. In this month’s article, Faith Liversedge looks at it from a client’s point of view and highlights some important steps for success when formulating your client proposition.

What is your target audience’s general stage of awareness of your business/offering?

It’s an official sounding question, but an important one to ask and one I cover in every strategy meeting with a new client.

That’s because it’s very easy for us at the coal face of financial planning and all the good stuff that brings with it, to forget that the client is way behind this journey.

Financial advice has moved on. No more products, no more cloak and dagger, confusing jargon, complex payment structures to hinder the process. Instead there’s a focus on long-term goals, planning for the future, emotions and wellbeing.

We know this. We chat to each other about it in the press, at conferences.

Wonderful. Marvellous.

But your client isn’t at these conferences.

They’re in fact a world away from this vision of financial advice.

Your client is still at the stage of trying to navigate the Flash Harrys and Ne’re Do Wells, trying to avoid the incompetents and charlatans that they’re led to believe are hiding behind every dark corner waiting to prise their hard-earned money away from them.

Headlines like those below certainly don’t help:

  • ‘Still at work: adviser who lost us £400,000’
  • ‘We lost £20,000 to crooked adviser’.
  • ‘Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Andy Cole’s tax adviser Kevin McMenamin arrested’

It’s drama, scandal, worry.

Putting clients’ needs first

To talk about bringing wellbeing to your client by coaching them through their finances on the first page of your website in this context, without mentioning what they’re expecting, is going to, at best, throw them off completely; at worst, think they’ve clicked on a link to a mindfulness retreat by accident.

Even if they’re not worried about this aspect, the theory still applies.

Because even if they’re the least sceptical, most trusting and open-minded of prospects, talking to them about planning at the outset could be a mistake. Why? It’s because financial

planning is not a problem that keeps people awake at night. Even if they are aware of it as a term, they’re unlikely to be searching for it in Google.

Perhaps one day that might happen.

But right now, put ‘financial planner’ or ‘financial planning’ into Google and the most common search terms you get are ‘Financial planner salary’, ‘financial planner job description, ‘how to become a financial planner’. You can see whose searching for this, and it isn’t clients.

What is keeping your prospects awake at night is something completely different, and I’m afraid, much more product related: ‘Do I have enough in my pension to retire?’ ‘Can I retire early?’ How can I find out all the pensions schemes I’ve paid into?,’ ‘Where should I invest an inheritance?’

So if you want your business to be found online then you’re going to have to talk products, even if it’s just a little bit. But don’t worry; this could be advantageous in the end.

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