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Keep your practice simple, but compelling

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Successful advisers have a compelling and easy-to-understand method for working with clients.

Catherine Seeber, a CFP and partner at Wescott Financial Advisory Group in Philadelphia, says that her firm uses the trademarked “Life-Minded Wealth” approach that integrates financial expertise with life expertise into a single advisory service that helps clients see all sides of every financial decision.

In marketing materials, the firm provides easy-to-understand illustrations on how its advisers can deliver customized advice and strategies based on each client’s specific financial assets and unique financial mindset – “those psychological factors that shape their perceptions and feelings,” she says.

As a certified financial transitionist, Seeber also uses a tool known as “communication preferences,” because clients typically have a preferred style of communicating when they are talking about their money and key commitments.

“We have a developed exercise designed to allow clients to quickly identify their primary communication preferences when meeting with us,” she says. “It’s how they receive information that helps drive sound financial decision-making.”

Likewise, the advisers at Tranquility Financial Planning in McAllen, Texas, also strive to adapt to clients’ preferred communication methods as part of the firm’s “Tranquility Success Plan” outlined on its website and brochures, says Rosa Ybarra, senior financial planner.
The process has five steps: The Discovery, From Dreams to SMART Goals, The Simplification of Data, The Delivery and The Review.

“We try our best to be flexible and understand that our prospects and clients alike are busy with their daily lives,” Ybarra says.

Anjali Jariwala, a CFP and the founder of FIT Advisors in Chicago, says that her firm’s method is to provide holistic financial planning “where we do not just focus on the numbers but get to an understanding of what are the clients values and why money is important to them.”

She first conducts a “get-organized” meeting with new clients, followed by a discussion about goals before they start the planning process.

“From there I create a road map that outlines the rest of the year and what we hope to accomplish,” Jariwala says. “The process is a journey, so it takes time to really bring everything together.”

Mark Schoenbeck, a CFP and senior vice president of business consulting at Kestra Financial in Austin, Texas, gives advisers five tips: beware of the “curse of knowledge” that can lead them to talk finance to clients in the same way that they talk to their colleagues; avoid using technical industry terms; use analogies and metaphors to simplify complex concepts and allow clients to emotionally connect; set expectations regarding the continuing engagement process, and then stick to them; and “be personal.”

“The more you can do to tell your story and to demonstrate your unique qualities, the better, more engaged and effective your communications will be,” he says.

This story is part of a 30-30 series on smart strategies for RIAs.

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