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7 questions to help to start a revolution

14 April 2019

Jacqueline Lockie, head of Financial Planning, CISI, wants paraplanners to help her start a quiet revolution by getting their firms to ask questions from 7 categories in client meetings, to get better answers in order to create better financial plans for clients.

I’ve noticed something about the financial advice world, we ask boring questions! Since September last year I’ve been collating questions that planners and paraplanners ask clients when talking about life goals and dreams. My conclusions don’t make for happy reading. Questions are very bland, often product focused and there aren’t many quality questions that stand out.

So, I’ve been collating a library of great questions to ask clients from lots of Certified Financial Planners around the world, and I’d like your help to aid anyone you work alongside, to ask better questions.

After all, if you get better answers you will be able to create better financial plans for clients.

So, I’d like you to formulate some supplementary questions and get an agreement with your planners that you (or they) ask them. Set out the questions into a few different categories such as: Values, Goals, Relationships, Assets, Advisers, Process and Interests. Here are a few good examples that I like.

Values: When you were growing up, how did your household deal with money?
Goals: What’s something that you currently think is impossible to do, but if you could do it, it would dramatically improve your life? OK, what would make it possible?

Relationships: Family tree – can we sketch out your family tree (on a whiteboard) to understand how these relationships may impact on your needs and strategy?

Assets: When you think about your finances, what are your three biggest worries?

Advisers: Do you have a financial planner? How do you feel about the relationship? Have you thought through what it will be like to end the relationship?

Process: How involved do you like to be in managing your finances? What is your preferred method of communication?

Interests: Imagine this, you have retired, it is a rainy Tuesday afternoon. What are you doing?

If you go to client meetings, can you arrange to ask these questions?

When in those meetings are you taking all the notes?

I find it hard to ask questions and really listen to the responses from clients if I also have to record the answers too. Maybe that’s just me. But I’d recommend arranging for the meeting to be recorded (even just that bit perhaps) or that the planner with you writes down EXACTLY what the client says in response. EXACTLY what they say. Not interpretation or imposing of your own views.

My favourite question to date came from a planner at CISI Thames Valley branch meeting in March; and here it is (for those with children): Imagine you are a new father, fast forward 18 years later and you and your child are at a party. Someone is talking to your (now adult) son/daughter and they ask, “What’s your Dad/Mum like?” What does your child say about you in response?

You might hear a sigh, a nervous laugh or a bit of looking at the floor before the response. What would you hope that they might say? How can you use your finances to help change what you think they might say into what you hope they might say?

Great questions lead to great outcomes for clients. They make it easier for you to create financial plans that really get to the nub of what clients really want out of life. So, here’s my challenge to you, help me start a revolution to get the financial planning world asking great client questions.

First published in the April edition of Professional Paraplanner magazine