Framing up meetings – Part 2: Assume nothing

As discussed in Part 1 of this series of articles, the purpose of a Discovery meeting differs from that of a traditional financial planning meeting.  In order to achieve that new purpose, assumptions based on previous experiences and traditional methods must be set aside from the outset of the meeting.

This isn’t the easiest thing to do.  It’s natural for both your clients and the attendees from your firm to hold pre-existing expectations about the relationship between you and how it will work, particularly when you’ve previously dealt with each other using a traditional financial planning approach.  Attendees from the firm tend to think they already know what the clients’ needs are, and the clients tend to think they already know what the firm’s role is.  

However, your new role, unlike the traditional financial planning role, is not simply focused on the client’s investments.  Your new role aims to maximise the probability of your clients achieving their financial goals and objectives, and you can only perform that role if you know what your clients’ needs and objectives actually are and can align your strategies accordingly.

The problem with assumptions is that they tend to work as a measuring stick, making critique easy and critical thinking difficult.  You’ll be asking questions of your (existing or potential new) clients, which they’ve likely not discussed with a financial adviser before, or perhaps even considered themselves.  If clients expect to discuss their existing investments, and you instead ask curly questions about their needs, they’ll be internally criticising your approach against their ‘assumed’ measuring stick, instead of focusing on answering your questions as accurately as possible.

The solution is to properly frame up the meeting when it first begins, express the importance of making ‘no assumptions’, and reframe as required during the meeting.

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