This article originally appeared in our sister publication, Conseiller. Read the original version in French here.
Have you ever worked hard preparing a financial plan and then wondered how to go about presenting it to the client?
The answer is probably “yes.” Even though a plan’s structure is similar from one to the next, the presentation needs to be adjusted for your client. Here are five elements you can adapt to fit a client’s needs:
1. Summarize the client’s objectives
This step is crucial. It will allow you to focus on the client’s real needs and make them feel that you’re working for them.
By summarizing the client’s objectives at the beginning of the meeting, it will be easier to recommend appropriate solutions.
2. Summarize the client’s financial situation
This step will allow you to confirm to the client that you have a sound understanding of their financial situation. If the client has forgotten to provide you with certain information, the summary may remind them and you can determine whether this new information changes your analysis.
3. Explain the results of your analysis
It is essential to adapt your message to your audience and make sure it’s understood. Is the client a driver, expressive, analytical or amiable?
Drivers want to take action right away. Time is important for them. Be concise when presenting your financial plan, focusing on the results and the measures to be taken.
Expressive clients are comfortable making decisions without guidance. When presenting your financial projection, you can be spontaneous, without necessarily sticking to the order of the document. Since they are intuitive and impulsive, make sure that they understand the plan.
Analytical clients like numbers, dates and reports. Be sure to properly explain your working assumptions. When you present the financial plan, take time to explain the methodology and, if necessary, indulge the client by explaining a few appendices and calculation sheets.
Amiable clients have a highly emotional personality and don’t like to take risks. However, they are very good listeners. Present your financial projection slowly and with a soft voice. They will be more comfortable in making a decision.
When it comes to results, simple graphs are the way to go. Graphs should:
- Show the client’s assets and how they change over time.
- Show the client’s objective. For example: “Have capital until age 96 and leave money to my estate.”
- Present a conclusion—the solutions and strategies needed so that the investor can achieve their retirement objective (review retirement age, reduce cost of living, increase savings, etc.).
4. Present strategies, recommendations and proposed solutions
After explaining the current situation to the client, you need to make recommendations and present realistic solutions that will allow them to achieve their objectives (which is why it’s important to check them in step 1).
Since recommendations usually involve asking a client to change a behaviour, I recommend making no more than five recommendations. It’s better to make fewer recommendations and make sure they’re followed.
If possible, personalize the recommendations. For example, instead of saying that RESPs are ideal for financing a child’s education, you could say they can be used “for paying for your daughter Julie’s studies.”
5. Provide an action plan and an implementation schedule
Try to have your client adopt recommendations immediately. For elements that can’t be applied that day, establish a schedule with an associated action plan and a follow-up date.
You also have to allocate the responsibilities among any outside professionals (e.g., wills and estate lawyer, pension expert, tax specialist, etc.).
And now you’re ready to present your financial projection. Remember to do your best to clearly explain things for clients while showing tact and understanding. Good luck with your presentation.
Charles-Antoine Gohier, Financial Planner, MBA, is the Practice Lead, Financial Planning, Wealth Management Solutions Group at National Bank Financial