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Plan First, Sell Later

Why do we plan first and sell later, you ask? Fifteen plus years of working with advisors across the country have allowed me to observe a few things. Over these years, there have been several trends in the financial services industry: first, gathering assets has been a prime motivator in the panning community. AUM has become the mantra for success. Second, the insurance industry has stopped training anyone. Insurance is largely commoditized, and companies are largely interchangeable. Third, planning has become about asset allocation and chasing returns, not understanding what future the client wants for themselves and their families and showing them ALL the steps to get there.

It should be easier than ever to create a comprehensive financial plan for a family. Software and hardware have made number crunching and financial analysis relatively simple and inexpensive. Of course, the advisor has to be willing to take the time to ask the right questions, gather the right data, analyze what all of the data means and take the time to explain all of the options and steps to make things work.

This delays the ultimate sale. And, that’s the number one thing I notice that’s missing. The urge to make a sale has become the overwhelming motivation for client engagement. The profession has become transactional. Save tax? Here, but this Oil and Gas Program. Risk tolerance? What’s that? Economic substance? Ignore that and look at the tax you save. 

The best of the advisors take the time to know and understand their client families. They take the time to build a relationship that will last for years, not through one planning moment. They ask good questions and listen very carefully. They clarify to understand. They illustrate and guide and refer. This skillset seems to be fading. Quick sales, quick money seem so easy. Planning is for the long run. Advise giving is for the long run. I would love to see that mindset re-emerge.


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