Here's How To Use The One-Page Financial Plan with Clients

The One-Page Financial Plan has worked so well for us when meeting with prospective clients. In this post, I’m going to share how to gather everything you need to create the One-Page Plan in the first 15 minutes of a first meeting. Then I will go over the three things that you need to communicate with the prospective client so that the value of the Plan can be perceived and they want to work with you.

The One-Page Plan template that we use originated from the book, The One-Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards. However, we've adjusted it a bit, especially since March 2020, to fit our first meetings. Now that close to 95 percent of our first meetings are virtual or over the phone, using this adopted One-Page Plan for the past year or so has really been a game changer for our firm.

So first up, we really only need to discover three things in the first meeting in order to create a One-Page Plan.

  1. What's most important to them? What do they value?
  2. Where are they currently with their financial situation?
  3. What are their tangible goals that require money and planning to achieve?

Now you probably already ask these questions, but the success of the One-Page Plan is in how you discover this information and then how you organize it for them. The way we discover these three things is by asking prospective clients a few strategic questions.

#1: What’s on Your Mind?

The first question we always ask is, “so, what's on your mind?” And that's it. Now we're quiet and we listen and we write down their quotes. Writing down their quotes is really the key part of this. It's really important that we get their exact words. I'll tell you why in a minute, but first, there are actually three to four follow-up questions that we ask after that first one. Click here to see a video that details the first five questions that we'll ask in a first meeting.

#2: A Helpful Financial Question

After those introductory questions, we ask them to quickly share their financial situation. Sometimes people might be hesitant to share all of their financial details if they've never met you, especially if they're not a referral and it's the first meeting. So, here's a great way to lead in to the financial stuff. After they share what's on their mind, and you get their quotes, say, “I think I might be able to help you with…” and then repeat one of their quotes; one of the things that's most important to them. For example, “I might be able to help you with come up with a plan around retirement. Do you mind if I ask you a few financial questions?” And because you said you could help them with their problem, they'll be more likely to share info with you. We've actually never had someone say no to this question when we ask it this way.

#3: Identifying Goals

The next step is discovering their most important goals. They'll most likely share many of their goals when you ask the first question, but there's another one to ask and get more specific: “do you have any tangible goals that require money and planning to achieve?” This phrasing of this question came from Bill Bachrach’s book, Values-Based Financial Planning, and it makes them think a little bit more than just saying, “what are your goals?”

After they share, it’s a good idea to ask again, “are there any other tangible goals that you can think of?” You want to really just make sure that they're brainstorming and thinking of everything that's on their mind.

By now you know some of their financial goals, you know where they are currently in their financial life, and you know, in their own words, their problems or their worries or pain and what they're looking for in working with you.

#4: End With This Non-Financial Question

Finally, we need to find out what they value most in life. To understand their values, we found it best to ask at the end of the meeting, rather right in the beginning. I know Bill Bachrach suggests strongly that you have to ask the values question first out of the gate, but we discovered that by spending the time listening to them, even if it's only 15, 20 or 30 minutes, we've had a conversation and we've showed that we care––because we do care about these people that are coming to us. So, by first showing that we care and that we want to help them, they're more likely to open up around values versus someone walking into the office and being hit right away with a deep question. We found that going deeper at the end just has been working better.

So, before the call ends, we say something like this, “can I ask you a non-financial question?” And once they agree, I say, “I'm going to be reviewing your plan and putting together some suggestions for you. But since everyone has a different perspective around money, it would really be helpful to know yours before I start to recommend things to you. So I'd be curious to know what's important about money to you.”

Now, this question is key. It's likely that no one's ever asked them this question before. They’re going to get the sense that you do really care. Then they'll leave the meeting knowing that you're different from most of the other advisors out there. And as they talk and answer this question, write down their answers and save them for the One-Page Plan.

There’s a whole process for creating the One-Page Plan once you have collected this information from the prospective client. Stay tuned for another post on how to do that. But to wrap up this post, here are three things that, during the meeting, we need to communicate to prospective clients so that they see the value of the One-Page Plan and actually want us to create it for them.

First, We Care

The most important thing to communicate with a prospective client is that you care. This really comes across when we ask the values-based question and when we listen and empathize with what they're looking for.

Second, We’re Experienced

Because you have walked with other people in similar situations or with similar goals already, you’re a capable guide for these new prospective clients. You aren’t the hero of the story; they’re the hero of their story. You are the guide who is helping them along the way.  

Now, remember, only communicate that you've done this before if you actually have. If you have past or current clients who you've helped and these new prospective clients are looking for the same exact thing, then be sure to communicate your expertise in that area.

Finally, We Have a Plan

The last thing to be sure and communicate is the value of the One-Page Plan. There is specific verbiage that we use to do this. Be sure to watch for another post soon that will continue to outline the One-Page Plan and how to use it with your new clients.

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