Advice Mapping – Part 1:  Getting your client’s financial life on a single page is crucial to engagement

A picture paints a thousand words, right?

If your firm can learn to capture the essence of a client’s financial life in a picture on a single page, and then use that one page for every client meeting as the driving document underpinning your advice relationship, I predict you will engage more deeply, with more clients, for better fees.

We refer to this method of client engagement as Advice Mapping.

Next week we’ll cover the steps to start introducing Advice Maps, but in the meantime, here are the two first crucial steps to get you started.

First, get a book, jump on the net and read up on mind mapping.

  • When we first introduce this concept and technique with our clients, many say they have seen mind mapping when they were at school or university but didn’t continue with it. After working with over 200 firms, we are so convinced this is a crucial client engagement tool that if our clients fail to implement Advice Mapping, we terminate our services. To us, it’s the seatbelt keeping the driver (you and your advisory team) and her passengers (your clients) secure and in position as you undertake the unpredictable journey towards achieving your clients’ financial outcomes.

Second, drop the focus on current statements of advice as client engagement tools.

  • Statements of advice are NOT sales tools, NOT the primary engagement tool, not even a client management tool. They are important compliance tools showing that you understand the client, the recommendations, and the scope, that you have substance and due diligence in your recommendation, and so on.
  • Statements of Advice have for too long been at the forefront of client engagement.  They should be in the background. They are like the flight plan used by pilots (well thought out, compliant, managing all sorts of risk and scenarios), the theatre notes made by surgeons, or the program specifications created by system analysts for use by computer programmers. They’re important and they’re crucial, but they don’t perform the engagement (and re-engagement) role that a good Advice Map performs for you and for your clients.

Advantages of mapping a client’s financial life:

    1. Clients get a clearer picture of where they are in their financial lives.
    2. Clients get a better understanding of where they want/need to get to.
    3. Clients can see what expertise, guidance, support, and advice you are providing to help them get from where they are to where they want to be, or to better achieve the outcomes that are important to them.
    4. Your team has a reliable and consistent go-to document for everyone in your firm to quickly assess what’s important to the client (i.e. their outcomes), the basis and priorities of your advice, and the overall circumstances of the client’s financial life.
    5. Your alliances, centres of influence, and external deliverables team members (i.e. other professionals that assist you in the delivery of your advice/solution to your clients) get a quick snapshot of the whole of the client’s financial life and where their role fits.  This provides a broader context to their support, and often helps to impel timeframes and responsibilities to avoid backlogs.
    6. By monitoring progress and producing updates of your clients’ financial lives, you create a valuable advice trail of past maps.  For adviser and client alike, these provide clear evidence of value being delivered while clients’ lives inevitably evolve due to continual change in products, markets, legislation, and clients’ personal circumstances.
    7. Whilst every client is unique, your firm will quickly build standard advice mapping templates for common and regular re-use (with existing and new clients) to assist your advisers to consistently improve their advice mapping process.
    8. Applying your own professional set of standards (e.g. correctly highlighting advice priorities, correctly identifying client goals and priorities, and correctly identifying the key financial complexities the client is trying to overcome) supports the auditability of your advice process.
    9. Supporting documents (e.g. statements of advice, photos of clients, audio recordings of meetings, meeting notes etc) can easily be attached to advice maps to keep everything in one place.
    10. It makes complex financial matters simple for your clients. They can take one page home with them (with all the supporting and compliant documentation) which they feel connected to because it presents their whole financial life on a single page.
    11. Whilst Advice Mapping is becoming increasingly popular, it is still frequently a differentiator.  Most clients have never had anyone attempt to put their whole financial life on a single page.

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