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5 Levels of Financial Planning – What’s Your Level?


5 Levels of Financial Planning – What’s Your Level?

Written by: Ronald Seir | See Beyond Numbers

“Am I getting better?”

It may be the most important question you can ask yourself as a financial planner. If you’ve never thought to ask it before, go ahead and do it now. And be honest.

Are you a better financial planner than you were three months ago? A year ago? Three years ago?

If the answer is “No” (or even “Yes, but not much”) then you might face a serious problem.

But there’s some good news too….

Because “not getting any better” doesn’t mean you’re a slow learner. It just means you’re not engineering enough opportunities to improve.

If you’re reading this blog, you likely have intentions of becoming a better, more successful, and meaningful financial planner. But how often do your intentions turn into action?

Intentions, unfortunately, are as weak as a lazy summer breeze. They are too easily overcome by the seemingly urgent demands of everyday life. The best way to improve, is to commit to something that will force you to raise your game.

Want to improve your knowledge? Sign up for a tax-training-course

Want to improve your presentation skills? Announce you’re giving a free presentation for your clients next month

Want to have more clients? Enter an online training course on making your financial planning service irresistible to your ideal prospects

But first, ask yourself this question: do you really, really believe you need to get better? (Or do you believe you’re already good enough?)

Let’s check it out.

5 Levels of Financial Planning

This is not about designations. This is about your potential for future success. And judging from feedback from my readers, many planners are stuck at level 1…

Level 1: The Technical Planner

The Technical Planner is a financial planner who works orking for a large company. When there’s a job offered, and you have proof you’re good at technical work (because you have a FP-designation), you’re set. When you have the job, the client mostly doesn’t care about you, as a person.

People think: If the company is good, the financial planner is probably good as well. If they think otherwise, you’re in trouble.

The good news about being a Technical Planner, is that you never have to worry about any marketing, you never have to worry about how to get your next client. Prospects show up, not because of you. But because you work for the company.

The bad news is, you are generic. You are a cog in the system that is run by somebody else.

There are LOTS of financial planners who don’t want to be at level 1, but don’t know how to make the leap to level 5 (because that’s the best leap. Trust me, you’ll see).

The Technical Planner’s message is: “I’m a professional, can I work for you?”

Level 2: The Local Planner

The Local Planner has a business because he’s “around”. Right around the corner, the “easiest one”, the one to grab. There’s an advantage to being a Local Planner, if there are lots of people around you who need your service.

That’s why most Local Planners are product-selling-financial-planners.

Because most people believe they don’t need financial planning. Instead, they do need a mortgage or life-insurance. Oh, and maybe some (commission-based) financial planning to go along with it.

The Local Planner’s message is: “If you need financial advice, come to me (because I’m nearby)”.

But you can do better than that.

Level 3: The Expert Planner

The Expert Planner is a financial planner who has invested lots and lots of time and energy in becoming the most knowledgeable planner that ever existed. The Expert Planner is almost by definition “better” than the competition.

People notice him because of his designation-arsenal, experience and extensive knowledge. He (hopes to) get(s) picked.

The truth is, he doesn’t get picked often enough (although he’s truly the best). You see, most people won’t bother noticing, because they aren’t looking. They don’t have time to seek out if you’re better than the competition. Because there’s just too much to look at nowadays, and not enough time to take it all in.

The Expert Planner’s message is: “If you want the best financial planner, come to me”.

That doesn’t bring the results you deserve, unless you take it to the next level.

Level 4: The Niche Planner

These planners are “the one and only”. They best serve their target audience. Audiences like airline pilots, medical specialist, or teachers. They focus on “who they do it for”.

And that’s why those planners do get noticed. People recognize themselves in who the planners say they serve best.

The Niche Planner’s message is: “If you want to be served by someone who really knows you, come to me”

Still, they get noticed, but do clients engage with you? Do they refer you?

Do they buy your service?

Aren’t you forgetting something?

Level 5: The Irresistible Planner

This is the connector.

This is the planner who does work people MUST talk about. This is the planner who stands out, because the financial planning service, the experience, the engagement is worth talking about. It’s not better by definition, but it’s so engaging, you cannot help but talk about it.

People want to belong to this planner’s community.

Irresistible planners understand they need to find a different community, with a different worldview that wants to hear a different story. They understand they need to invent an entirely new story that is framed around the worldview of an underserved community.

And there is a huge amount of people who are underserved by the financial services industry …

People WANT to buy financial planning from this type of financial planner, because he makes them feel how they want to feel.

The Irresistible Planner’s message is: “If you want to feel ……. then come to me (because I’m like you)”

Level 5: What’s the First Step to becoming an Irresistible Planner?

It’s all about your Hook.

Your hook is your remarkable promise about your financial planning service, but in its raw idea form.

But watch out!

You can’t tell a selfish story from your point of view. You also can’t invent an inauthentic story.

The only hooks that work are the ‘WOW, is this for real – hooks’

The problem is that most planners keep on making the same mistakes when creating their hook (I’ll tell you how to create your hook in a minute).

3 Big Mistakes When Crafting Your Hook

Mistake #1: Your story, website and content is haphazard

Most planners think of every potential topic that might be applicable to their audience, and then shower them with content from every angle. They say, “I was told to deliver value, and I did!”

For example: lots of planners tweet about any financial topic that comes along.

While planners who make this mistake have the best intentions, they ultimately end up confusing and overwhelming their prospects. And after they hear your story, they’re no closer to solving their problem than they were before, because it’s all over the place.

In reality, what’s happening is this — When most of us sit down to create a valuable message for our customers, we don’t know what to talk about, so we talk about as much as possible. Wealth management. Debt management. Retirement planning. Estate planning. Superannuation. Salary packaging. Getting divorced. Getting married. Seeking financial freedom.

We don’t want to leave anything out. So, we’re just throwing it at our audience, like, “Here! Read this! Hire me for this!” And we cross our fingers, hoping people will call us.

They won’t.

A haphazard message will scare a bunch of potential customers away — those who don’t quite know and trust you yet or aren’t quite sure if they want your service.

Mistake #2: Your story, website and content doesn’t establish you as someone people can trust

This is a big one. Believe it or not, many planners talk about financial planning as if they are saying, “I have no idea what I’m talking about.” And it has nothing to do with whether they actually do know or don’t.

They’re just not including the right information in their message. They think, “Because I’m talking about financial planning, I don’t need to show them why I’m qualified. They obviously know this already.”

But remember, most people don’t understand the value of financial planning. They’re not sure about the big benefit of financial planning. The effect is you haven’t quite convinced them. They might have a mild interest in what you have to say, but that doesn’t mean they know you or know why you’re qualified.

You need to ensure people know who you are and why you’re qualified to help them. They need to know you’re an authority.

Mistake #3: Your story, website and content doesn’t establish you as someone people can like

Trust is important, but when you’re selling your service, being liked is just as important. Most planners think, “What the heck? I’m not trying to win a popularity contest. I’m just trying to help people.”

But when people don’t like you, you’re creating a barrier between you and engaging people to buy your service that doesn’t need to exist. Now, this doesn’t mean you become some slimy salesman that tries to be liked by everyone. That’s never going to work and people will be on to your trickery.

Instead, what you need to do, is to not be scared to show the real you (as long as the real you relates to the worldview of your audience and your financial planning service).

Sure, it will turn some people off, but it will also turn the right people on. The idea of making people like you isn’t a new idea, either. Psychologist Robert Cialdini actually named Liking as one of his six weapons of influence in his persuasion manual, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition

That’s how strong being liked plays a role in someone ending up choosing your service. Either way, it’s important that your hook builds trust and likability.

Now that we’ve got those big mistakes out of the way, you’re almost ready to begin brainstorming ideas for your hook.

What’s Your Hook About?

Your hook is about positioning your financial planning service and what makes it unique from the rest of the market.

Let me explain why you need it. And why it’s vital that you don’t skip it. This is so important, so I want to be sure you really get it.

Okay, so first, remember this:

Your Hook Is Why People Will Want To Listen To You (Not The Other Guy)

Your hook is what helps you stand out from the competition. When you present your hook, you immediately contrast what you believe versus what other people believe. And this makes you stand out immediately. Even if your service isn’t that unique, it’s not nearly as important as showing people that — “Yes, even though I say this, there are other people who say that. And they’re wrong.”

(You don’t have to be as aggressive as I’m suggesting. But you do have to create that contrast and take a solid stance.)

Here’s an Example

Let’s say that you’re a financial planner for retired entrepreneurs, and your hook is:

“Most retired entrepreneurs base their decisions on analyzing what worked in the past. They rarely realize that it’s far better to base their decisions by looking at what works in the future.”

The retired entrepreneurs decision process looks like this:

1. Retired entrepreneur: “The stock markets are doing well and I don’t want to leave money on the table, but I’m not sure about the future implications.”

2. Retired entrepreneur: “I want to talk to someone who can help me with some advice”

Here’s when you introduce your hook.

3. “Most advisors tell you to base your decisions on past returns, investing-experience and your risk profile. I’m telling you that you don’t want to do that. It’s much better to base your decisions by first asking yourself what’s important to YOU – now and in the future – so that your current decisions won’t jeopardize your future welfare in any way.”

This immediately sets you apart from most other advisers out there. And, if you do it right, your audience will be sold on this idea. Then, throughout the rest of their journey, you’ll keep reinforcing this idea to show your prospects the benefits of this approach.

And that’s the power of your hook. Because when customers believe your hook, then buying your financial planning service becomes a no-brainer.

But you might think: this is difficult!

Don’t stress about it.

You should come up with one hook, and if it’s not perfect — that’s okay!

This can be your draft hook.

Start building something today, and then improve upon it as you get more and more clear with the idea that you want to share with your audience.

Again, let me emphasize — Your hook is merely the comparing and contrasting of what other people believe, and what you believe.

Here’s The Next Step

So, why don’t you try to create your hook?

There are several options. You might want to experiment with your concept-hook on your prospects. That approach is probably the best way to test it. However, it takes (lots of) time …

But if you don’t want to do the hard work yourself, but instead save lots of time, you might want to use The Ultimate Worksheet To Create Your Hook (and Stand Out From the Crowd). The only thing you have to do is to answer the following question:

What’s the biggest “mistaken belief” your prospects have about reaching their biggest (financial) desire?

Let’s make financial planning matter.

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