Storytelling is a powerful and appropriate communication form for many clients, says Stuart Podmore, investment propositions sales director at Schroders, who spoke at the CISI Financial Planning Conference 2019 about developments in psychological theory.
“If the financial plan story is engaging, clients remember and act upon what you say first, what you say most often, what surprises them and what you say to conclude,” he says. “Personal anecdotes, vulnerability, self-deprecation and the avoidance of patronising, complicated jargon are all helpful.”
Of course, what works with one client will not work with another, so it is important to be flexible. Marlene Outrim CFPTM Chartered FCSI, managing director of Uniq Family Wealth, describes a scenario where she had to change her method of communicating with a client. “I spent a couple of meetings going through the minutiae of a client’s cashflow and whether they should transfer one of their defined benefit pensions, which was quite sizeable. There were equal pros and cons, but they were detail people and they were going around in circles considering a myriad of permutations. In the end, I told them that their decision had to be based upon how they felt about it. I asked: ‘Would you sleep at night if you transferred the pension given the volatility of the markets or would you feel more content and satisfied if you did not transfer it?’ Then his decision was made,” she explains.
Whichever method a financial planner may choose to present information to a client, it should be engaging enough for the client to understand what is being said and be able to remember it later. This is vital because statistics tell us that financial planners have little time to spend with clients, and that levels of financial literacy vary significantly – see boxout. The FCA requires all firms to be clear, fair and not misleading to their customers or clients. Communication is key. Here we take a look at some techniques for helping clients absorb and retain information.
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