Sponsored by Advicent
In the 1996 film Jerry Maguire, the protagonist, played by Tom Cruise, branches off from the sports agency that employs him, stakes his career on a hot-shot wide receiver, and struggles to build his own brand. In the pivotal moment of the movie, as Maguire fights to secure clients in order to begin his fledgling business, one of the most iconic movie lines is delivered: “show me the money!”
This is an attitude that clients frequently possess, and advisors often cater to. The question of “why should I work with you?” often sounds like, “show me the money I will make if I choose you as my advisor.” Invariably, most advisors try to answer that question by showing their performance history, talking in-depth about their stock selection strategy, and explaining their unique asset allocation models.
The close, of course, is that the advisor’s wealth of knowledge will lead to portfolio maximization and ultimately, showing their clients the money. After all, clients want to grow and keep more money by working with an advisor, but that is not the entire answer as to why a client should work with you.
Understanding client motivations
Though the line always quoted is “show me the money,” the scene leading up to the iconic line is important to understand what it really means to Maguire’s only client, Rod Tidwell. At the beginning of the conversation, Rod asks Jerry if he was listening – if he was truly listening. Rod explains how he views himself in his work and that his extended family is dependent on him. That his house is being eaten by ants and his brother’s room is flooded from a bad water mattress. He wants to stay in Arizona but does not know if he will be able to, and to top it all off, he is getting harassed by other agents telling him that he is missing out on great deals. Following all of that is when Rod tells Jerry to “show me the money!”
You see, Rod does not just want money. He wants to know he chose the right agent and that he has the security to provide for his extended family, to fix his house, and to stay in Arizona. What he really wants is to be shown the money to make everything in his personal world possible – not just dollar signs without meaning.
These driving factors behind a client’s financial goals are crucial for an advisor to discover and understand. Why do they really want money? What are their underlying fears and concerns? How do they feel about the possibility of achieving, or not achieving, their financial goals?
The power of storytelling
Though important, the step of going an extra layer deep to understand the true motivations behind a client’s financial goals is just a starting point. Once a plan is created to address those financial goals and how to achieve them, presenting that plan within the framework of a clients’ personal story can launch the client-advisor relationship to the next level, converting a higher percentage of clients and assets.
There is strong scientific evidence to back the success of communicating via stories, especially ones that involve the subjects. The part of our brains that processes numbers and figures is much different from that which handles emotions and imagination – therefore, telling the story of what the client will be able to accomplish because of the advisor’s plan will be much more engaging than just delivering a spreadsheet of recommendations.
To get deep into the weeds, a listener’s brain mirrors the speaker’s brain both spatially and temporally through a process called neuro coupling, meaning that a listener’s brain “syncs up” with the speaker’s brain. The more all-encompassing that brain activity is, the stronger the communicative quality. You can read more about neural coupling in this study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Incorporating storytelling into plan presentation
Once you have a clear understanding of your client and their emotional motivations, it is critical to engage those emotions while presenting the financial plan.
The first step is to use a planning tool that gives you the flexibility to make a plan that is highly relevant and customized for your client. With total control in each planning module, advisors are able to discuss qualitative life issues that drive the numbers within the plan. NaviPlan is built with this level of storytelling and customization in mind, giving advisors control over the planning process and allowing them to efficiently achieve the level of detail needed.
The second step is to create reports and present the plan in a narrative catered to the client’s motivations. NaviPlan offers a plethora of visually-appealing, highly informative client reports. With the client report editor, advisors can tailor reports to include what information they want and in the most impactful order – ensuring the client gets the highest value possible from the report.
For more information on how NaviPlan can enable your firm to create impactful narratives, click here.