Through their imagination, clients can create a mental picture of their future vivid enough to prompt sound financial decisions today. Astute financial advisors guide this important mental journey.
Creating a view to the future
Creating a clear, revealing, compelling picture of your client’s future self doesn’t happen during meetings, which take place in a logical beta brain state. But you can seed the idea of two people: your client’s present self and their imagined future self.
Ask questions about your client’s future self to make that imagined person as real as possible. Don’t hesitate to be a bit playful and ask, “What would your future self say to you?” Their answer might be, “Why didn’t you think about me? Why did you only think about yourself?”
Correctly seeded, relaxing in between meetings will solidify in your client’s imagination a clear mental picture of their future self. It also can create a dialogue vivid enough to motivate financial decisions that have costs today but benefits well into the future.
It makes no difference whether their imagined future is affluent (in which case you can discuss how to fund it) or financially stressed (in which case you discuss how to remedy it).
Metaphors connect something clients already understand with something their advisor needs them to understand. What something is like is often easier to grasp than what it is.
Don’t construct these metaphors on the spur of the moment. Create them thoughtfully for each important financial solution or client situation you are likely to encounter. For example, “A pension fund is like a bank account in another time zone. It’s a deposit you make to your future self with tax benefits for your present-day self.”
Metaphors or playful illustrations can also sensitively communicate difficult subjects, such as the following: “Imagine having a rich uncle. He won’t spoil you when things are going well, but he will rescue you financially if you have a major illness or injury. Disability and trauma solutions are like renting a rich uncle. You receive the same financial support in times of extreme need, but you don’t have to listen to his boring jokes at family gatherings!”
Bruce Alexander is the creative director and principal of marketing, branding and strategy for Business Imagination Pty Ltd. This was excerpted from his 2023 MDRT Annual Meeting presentation “A view to the future.” (MDRT member exclusive)
For more communication ideas and metaphors for clients:
- Read “Use apartment buildings for explaining retirement and investments to clients” (Available in eight languages)
- Watch “Put me on your payroll” (MDRT member exclusive)