The Financial Planning Flowchart (or why your clients will balk at paying your fees)

The BloombergBusinessweek Financial Planning Flowchart

The BloombergBusinessweek Financial Planning Flowchart

BloombergBusinessweek has managed to capture 80% of everything clients need for their financial planning in a one-page colorful flowchart.

Or has it?

Visit BloombergBusinessweek to view the Financial Planning Flowchart.

Here, in one fairly-straightforward graphic, clients have a roadmap to follow to address the essentials of their financial plan. When you connect with a new client or prospect, I argue that you largely repeat many of the same evaluations as you gather data, and possibly make similar recommendations, too.

What’s Your Value?

So how are you prepared to differentiate your value proposition and the work that you do over a flowchart? If you’re not prepared, you’re going to have a hard time justifying the fees you charge.

And if the financial planning decision-making process can be outlined in a flowchart, what’s to stop software designers from writing a program that automatically steps through all of these primary conditions?

I concede that the flowchart is a basic guide and good for a starting point, and it falls short of the complicated planning scenarios when trusts, estates, and multi-generational planning factor in to play. But for those advanced strategies, you’re talking about the needs of (and I’m certainly guilty of over generalizing here) “the 1%.”

You Can’t Charge High Fees for the Basics

For the majority of the general population who admit they could benefit from some financial planning, but just haven’t pursued an engagement with a “real” planner, they’re going to have a hard time justifying fees in the thousands of dollars for guidance they can follow from a magazine they can buy for $2.99 from the App Store.

This post isn’t intended to compress your planning services into something as simple as a flowchart, but rather challenge you to step up your offering while acknowledging the need for simplicity.

Complement Simplicity

A lot of people will get a good financial planning foundation established by following this chart.

So encourage it.

Complement the process.

And when clients, prospects, friends, and colleagues get to a decision point with no clear answer, you step in and shine with what you do best, and charge appropriately, too.

Because if you don’t, you run the risk of being replaced by an automated flowchart (aka robo adviser).


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