Explaining Your Planning Process

Explaining Your Planning Process
By Corey Keltner, Practice Development Specialist

When I look at an advisor website or marketing materials, I often see some things that are concerning to me.

Here is an example:


  • Tax planning
  • Investment management
  • Retirement strategies
  • Estate planning
  • Insurance and annuity products

You probably do great work on very complex client situations but the materials that prospective clients use to evaluate you may be so generic that they are almost worthless.

If a potential client is getting ready to retire and sees this, will it help them understand all of the work you actually do for them? I don’t think this comes even close.

I want you to put yourself in the client shoes for a moment. You have decided to remodel your kitchen and have some very specific ideas about how you want it to look. The problem is that you don’t quite know how to get exactly what you want. You need to hire a contractor with a good eye for design and creativity that can help you turn your ideas into reality.

If you do an online search, you would want to see a couple of things. First, seeing some finished projects would give you some ideas about what this contractor has done in the past. But you also want to learn about the process. How do you pick out tiles, cabinets, etc.? How long will each step take? Will they make a big mess in your house? What if you’re not satisfied? This contractor could just wait until you call for an estimate and explain it in person but wouldn’t it be better if the process was explained ahead of time while you are doing your research online?

This is why we need to explain our process in a way that prospective clients can understand. That means to tell clients what you actually do with no jargon but with a reasonable amount of detail.

So, if you specialize in working with Pre-Retirees, you probably want to include something about Social Security. But even a bullet point titled “Social Security Analysis” is probably too generic to be valuable.

Instead, let’s think through some steps that will help you frame how you provide this valuable service.

Include something about the Big Problem you solve with a Social Security Analysis.

From my point of view, the big problem is the client may make a series of mistakes and doesn’t get all of the benefits they deserve.

Next, how do you go about solving the problem?

  • Compare Social Security against basic living expenses in retirement
  • Figure out the best time to claim Social Security benefits
  • Determine whether Social Security will be taxable
  • Run some “what-ifs” to help us understand what will happen if something changes

Finally, write in a way that the client can understand.

  • Avoid jargon and write clearly
  • Focus on the client’s level of understanding

I created a version of this that I want to share with you which can be found at http://www.ssntaxsavvy.com/tax-tip-7/. This is free for you to use or change to your liking. Make sure to get this approved by your compliance team prior to sharing with clients.

If you want to stand out in this crowded field of advisors who specialize in retirement planning, you need to show how you create value for your clients. Spend some time breaking down the services you offer like we discussed today and you can begin clearly differentiating your services from everyone else.

For more information, please visit www.ssntaxsavvy.com.

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