It takes two to tango
You’ll never get any sort of commitment from your client during an initial consultation, if their partner isn’t there. That’s because it really does take two to tango. Hear me out.
It’s all a bit frustrating
One of the most common frustrations when financial planning is doing an initial consultation for a couple, and only one of them turns up for the session.
You know before you even start that it’s going to be so much harder. You could spend the next 45 minutes delivering a knockout initial consultation – getting them off the transactional stuff onto the human stuff, clearing away the little questions and getting onto the big questions – really inspiring them.
But just as you’ve reached the end of your winning performance, they’re going to say to you, “that sounds great, but I can’t decide. I need to go home and check with [insert significant other here]”
What’s the problem?
The problem is, you’re now dependent on Dave the Plumber going home and explaining to Sandra all of the merits of great Lifestyle Financial Planning. What’s taken you maybe 20 years of experience to perfect, is now in the hands of Dave. The thing is, you could give the best performance in the world, but you’ll never get any great commitment.
It’s a waste of time. Yours and theirs. Because, the best worst case scenario is that you’ll have to do it all over again – that’s if Dave even manages to convince Sandra to come in. You’ll have to spend time bringing Sandra up to speed. But at worst, you lose the case altogether because Dave just isn’t that great at explaining it to Sandra – so they don’t come back.
So, whose fault is it? Is it Dave’s? No. It’s ours. And there are usually 5 reasons why a client doesn’t bring their partner. Our job is to develop a toolbox to make sure we can deal with each of them.
The 5 reasons why clients don’t bring their partner
- It’s not their asset. Maybe, because all of the pensions are in one person’s name, (and they’ve perceived that they’ve come along to talk about pensions) they think that only that person needs to attend. And that’s quite logical. When you go to the dentist, it’s your teeth, so you go. You don’t send somebody else’s teeth, do you? That’s how your client might be thinking about financial advice, especially if they are thinking about it in a negative, transactional way.
- It might not be their job. In any household, tasks are normally divided based on skills. If the finances, pensions or investments sit within the job zone of one particular partner, the other partner might feel it’s just not their job. So, they send the other partner. Again, they are perceiving it to be a transactional session.
- It might be that they just don’t care. But it’s more likely that they don’t care about what they think the meeting is going to be, “I don’t care about some boring person talking about boring pensions – it’s boring.” But, if you ask the same person, “hey, do you want to talk about ensuring your kids are okay, ensuring you can retire early and ensuring you can have the best life possible?” Now, that’s interesting. They would probably want to turn up for that conversation!
- They might not even know about it. The person who’s booked the meeting might not even have told their partner about it, so they don’t have the opportunity to be there.
- Or worse, there could be an element of control.
It’s up to us to put the work in to get them there
It’s up to us to understand these triggers and develop a toolbox to make sure that when we book these sessions we are doing all that we can to get the right message across. We need to make sure that they are aware (by us speaking directly to both people) that:
- It’s not just about whose assets they are
- It’s not just going to be a boring transactional session
- It’s going to be about life and loves and families and dreams for the future
So like I said at the start, it takes two to tango – it’s really important to give them both a reason to come. And you’ve got to give them a positive reason to attend. Remember, their starting position might be that it’s all a negative, boring transactional thing. It might even be the equivalent of going to a dentist appointment for them!
It’s up to us to put the work in, and we must do it early – there’s no point thinking about this once only one of them has turned up. We’ve got to have a great process, right from the point when the session is booked, full of great communications from us.
And yes, it really is down to us to do the work.
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