Financial Planner, Do You Still Make The Mistake To Solve Your Client’s Problem?

Good financial planners, we’ve long been told, are skilled problem solvers. They can assess people’s needs, analyze their predicaments, and deliver the optimal solution.

But today, when information is ubiquitous, the ability to solving problems matters relatively less.

After all, if people know precisely what their financial problem is, they can often find the information they need to make a decision without any assistance. Therefore, the services of a financial planner are far more valuable when people are mistaken, confused, or completely clueless about their true problem.

Via Dan Pink’s To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others:

In those situations, the ability to move others hinges less on problem solving than on problem finding.

It is in fact the discovery and creation of problems rather than any superior knowledge, technical skill, or craftsmanship, which often sets the financial planner apart from others in his field.

This more compelling view of the nature of problems has enormous implications for creating a meaningful financial planning service. To be engaging today, you need to depend more on right-brain problem-finding skills than on the left-brain problem-solving skills of financial planners.

Only a short time ago, your clients faced several obstacles to solving problems on their own. So they relied on the PSFP’s: the “product-selling-financial-planner”. Because the PSFP’s had access to information that the client did not.

But today, when data is flooding our lives and is also only one swipe away, this development is reshaping what your clients can do for themselves and therefore what financial planners must do to avoid irrelevance.

For instance, suppose your client is in the market for a life insurance. Ten or fifteen years ago, your client had to hire an insurance advisor or financial planner. Because your client could talk to someone who was much better informed than your client ever could be. And then your client relied on the advisor to provide the product he needed at a price that was fair.

Today, your client can solve his “life-insurance-problem” himself. He can go online and check out specs and ratings of various types. Your client can post a question on his Facebook page and seek recommendations from friends. Once he has settled on a few possibilities, he can compare prices with a few keystrokes.

And he can order his choice from the vendor offering the best deal. He doesn’t need a financial planner or insurance advisor at all.

Unless he’s gotten his problem wrong.

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Your Client Doesn’t Want A Solution

After all, his ultimate aim isn’t to acquire a life insurance policy. It’s to be freed from worries that his family won’t have a proper life after he passes away.

Maybe his real problem is he doesn’t feel at ease about the well-being of his family when he’s gone.

Or maybe his real problem is that he feels responsible for his family and that he thinks he has to purchase a life insurance, so that he has shown “another act of responsibility” to himself. While another life insurance may not even be necessary.

So maybe he shouldn’t buy a life insurance. But instead visit a financial or estate planner that shows him exactly how his financial situation looks like after he’s gone.

He’ll discover that someone who can help him achieve his main goal (feeling at ease) in a smarter and cheaper way, is someone he’ll listen to. And perhaps even buy from.

If your client knows his problem, he can solve it. If he doesn't know his problem, he might need help finding it.

What does this mean?

This means that people are less interested in “what to buy” than in learning “how to improve all facets of their finances”. People are looking for unbiased business partners. And that changes which type of financial planners are most highly prized.

No, those aren’t necessarily the PSFP’s.

No, those aren’t the ones who can offer an immediate solution and secure the signature on the contract.

The PSFP doesn’t have the client’s interest in mind. Because the PSFP’s passion is selling.  Their primary concern is profiting with every promotion. The PSFP tests aggressively, judge failures quickly, and move on to the next product that they can sell to satisfy their passion.  They have a natural ability to sell (and derive a great pleasure from it).

On the other hand, selling doesn’t come as easily for the MFP’s: the “meaningful-financial planner”.  They get their kicks from moving others… from transforming lives …from seeing the ah-ha look of understanding in the eyes of their clients.  These planners are the ones who want to matter.

And yes, they also have to sell. But for the right reasons: because it’s the path to impacting more people and changing more lives.

MFP’s don’t usually like the sales part of financial planning.  They really just want to matter, teach and transform, and the hard hitting sales tactics used by the PSFP’s don’t sit well with them. Because of their discomfort with the sales process, the impact is sometimes small. Their business unfortunately never really see the wide reach they hoped to achieve to support their passion to change the world (or at least a larger part of it).

Does this sound like you? 

Well, I’m one of those too. I love to be the one making a difference for the financial planners who want to make a difference.  Influencing the influencers.  Changing the game for the game-changers.

And yes, I believe the future is yours.

Because the planners “who can brainstorm with people, who uncover new opportunities for them, and who realize that it doesn’t matter if they close at that moment” …those are the planners who will thrive in this new age.

This means that financial planners don’t think of their profession as selling products but as selling insights about their client’s financial situation.

Today, when information is everywhere, the premium is now to clarify what's going to happen next.

This means that the most important things financial planners do, is finding the right problems to solve. This also means a transition from problem-solving to problem-finding for most financial planners.

Identifying problems as a way to move others takes two longstanding skills and turns them upside down.

First, in the past, the best financial planners were adept at accessing information. Today, they must be skilled at curating it. Sorting through the massive troves of data and presenting to others the most relevant and clarifying pieces.

Second, in the past, the best financial planners were skilled at answering questions (in part because they had information their prospects lacked). Today, they must be good at asking questions. Uncovering possibilities, surface latent issues, and finding unexpected problems (such as how your clients want to feel).

And one question in particular sits at the top of the list.

Do you want to know The Most Essential Question You Can Ask?

If you want to receive this essential question, all you need to do is to answer this simple question of mine:

What is your most valuable question you ask in your financial planning service?

Please, leave your answer – below – in the comment field.

You’ll receive the free PDF with The Most Essential Question You Can Ask.

Let’s make financial planning matter,

Ronald Sier

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Leave a Reply 169 comments

castoravon @HarborWest Reply

As a financial advisor, I agree that the typical approach of handling customers’ problems without thoroughly knowing their needs can frequently result in errors. Before prescribing a remedy, it is critical to carefully listen and probe further into a client’s financial condition, goals, and aspirations. Every person has their own set of circumstances, risk tolerances, and long-term goals. As a result, a one-size-fits-all approach may not produce the greatest results. Instead, a personalized and holistic strategy that takes into account the client’s current financial situation, future goals, and emotional attachment to money is required.

Iris Smith Reply

Thank you for suggesting that you should rely more on right-brain problem-finding abilities than on financial planners’ left-brain problem-solving abilities. My sister expresses her desire for the company to succeed. I’ll advise her to contact a financial adviser so they can work together to find a solution.

Ronald Reply

Try not to experience that very day again and again and call that a daily existence. Life is tied in with developing intellectually, profoundly, and inwardly.

Millie Hue Reply

It’s great to know that financial advisors would be able to access information and curate it as well, especially these days. I will try to consult with one this year to help me understand how I can save up money until the end of the year. And I want to reach a certain goal with my savings as well as in 2024 and so on to be prepared for emergency situations.

Mia Evans Reply

I find it interesting when you said that people these days want to find business partners that are unbiased. I can imagine how an investment consultant can help owners to identify great partners if they want to grow their businesses. With their expertise, the company a person is developing can reach new heights with the help of partnership deals which can boost their production and increase their sales as well.

Iris Smith Reply

Thank you for expressing that finding the correct challenges to fix is one of the most crucial things financial planners do. My sister recently started a job. She wants to be certain that her finances are in order. I’ll advise her to schedule a consultation for personal financial planning.

Liana Reply

thanks for info

Rick Salmeron Reply

If you had a magic wand, What does your end result look like?

Robert Martinelli Reply

What is the cost to you and your family if you do nothing at this time?

Robert Martinelli Reply

I have a series of questions that I ask, here is one of my favorites

Who are the people that are affected by the financial decisions you make?

John Carston Reply

I like how you mentioned that it is important identifying obstacles as a way to move others. My cousin mentioned to me last night he and his friend are planning to invest in a small business and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that they can consult a trusted financial advisor as they can answer all their inquiries and will help with their financial planning.

Kristofer Van Wagner Reply

The other day my friend mentioned that she is looking to set up a retirement fund. I do agree that it is important for her to hire a certified financial planner. I will definitely advise her to look for someone experienced and certified.

Kristofer Van Wagner Reply

I like that this post shared that one of the benefits of hiring a financial advisor is that they can help resolve our financial issues. My sister mentioned that she has been having problems in monitoring her finances. I will keep this information in mind and look for a reliable advisor.

Taylor Hicken Reply

It’s interesting to know that a financial planner is someone who is able to tell insights about the client’s financial situation while providing solutions to their problems. My uncle just mentioned the other day that he is worried about his children as they are still young and very dependent on him to live and he is afraid if he is no longer around to provide for them. I will suggest to him looking for a reliable financial planner who can let him know what are the necessary steps that need to be taken in order to guarantee a good future for his children.

parents super visa insurance cost Reply

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Kelley Financial Reply

Wonderful information, thanks a lot for sharing kind of content with us. Your blog gives the best and the most interesting information. I wonder if we can gather such practical information about that financial planning solves all the problems. This is a great blog!!

Lakshmi Srinivasan Reply

What keeps you awake at night?

Rahul Reply

If money was no issue at all, what would you be doing today? In 5 years? In 10 years?

Ajay Rai Reply

Thanks for this useful information. this can be very useful to those who want to gain knowledge about this topic. Again thank you for sharing this post.
Keep writing and sharing.

Dustin W Reply

What does the word “wealth” mean to you?

Chris Reply

What are your goals?

Monisha Murthy Reply


Robin Reply

Hoe vaak denken jullie aan geld?
A. Eigenlijk nooit
B. Soms
C. Iedere dag/week/maand

Waar denk je dan aan?

Mark Stern Reply

what makes you happy?

Mark Stern Reply

what do you want your future to look like?

Bill Mullen Reply

What does retirement mean to you?

Bill Mullen Reply

What happens if you discover at age 85 that medical bills become your highest monthly expense?

Joe George Reply

What prompted you to meet me today?

Anish Vora Reply

The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind

Michael Reply

Paint a picture for me, what does life look like in 5, 10 or 15 years if everything goes well.

Lena Reply

What regarding your personal finances/goals is keeping you up at night?

Leo Harper Reply

How are you?

jonathan Reply

What is important to you

Daniel Reply

What’s important about money to you?

Casey Reply

My question: When you see these risks/concerns, how does my solution make you feel?

Adam Reply

What is important about that to you?

Thabiso Reply

What things do you see yourself having or doing in 5 years time that would make you feel like you have made progress in improving yours and your loved ones lives?

David Reply

What is your biggest concern / goal ?

Barb Reply

What was money like for you growing up?

Alvin Yeo Reply

If you were told by your doctor, that you had 24 hours to live, what would be the one thing you want to accomplish within that time?

Andrew Reply

If you had a goose that laid golden eggs ? would you eat it, sell it or insure it?

If they answer insure it then they get it…

Andrew Reply

What’s your idea of financial freedom?

Mark Fenton Reply

How can I help you?

Rob Reply

What does success mean to you

Brian Koch Reply

What does success mean to you?

Ronald Reply

Why are you here?

Chris Wheatman Reply

“What’s important to you?”

Joe Reply

If you had unlimited resources, what would you do with your life?

Ben Northwood Reply

What are you hoping to get out of our meeting today?

Nobby Kleinman Reply

How much will be enough?

Rashesh Reply

What’s the most important thing you’d like to talk about today?

Robert Reply

what does money mean to you? Keep asking why, and you will zero in on the client’s values and fears.

dev golchha Reply

I ask# ‘Why’ are you looking to invest/save/insure yourself? I focus on the WHY of my prospect/client. This brings clarity to both the client and me as an advisor.

rich dworzak Reply

What would you like to accomplish today?

Alan Fleischauer Reply

I ask: Why are you here.

Schomacker Reply

Welche Rolle spielt Geld in Ihrem Leben?
Wenn Sie an Ihr Geld denken: Welche Sorgen , Anliegen oder Gefühle kommen Ihnen dabei in den Sinn?

Felipe Aquino Reply

What are your dreams?

James Reply

Why are you here? What do you need?

Daniel Riecker Reply

What is your legacy?

Jim Reply

Tell me more.

emwe Reply

Wie kann ich Ihnen helfen?

Cindi Reply

Once the job you have to do is over, what is it that you want to do in retirement?

John Kostic Reply

What’s the most important question I can answer for you today?

David Patrickson Reply

What is it that keeps you awake at night?

Rein Reply

What worries you most at the moment?

Allistar Walker Reply

What are your 5 year, 10 year, 20 year goals or expectations? If illness, disability or death were to strike you today where will that leave your . . . . . ? What would it need to protect those that you care most about?

Rob Reply

What’s the most important thing you’d like to talk about today?

Sterling Reply

What has brought you to the point where you want to deal with your financial situation now?

Joe Maree Reply

May I ask you a few questions please? Then .. unpack the clients story

Ross Feldman Reply

How can I provide the most value to you in the time we have together today?

Abubakr Siddique Reply

*Yes, you are working harder, what about your resources?
* Well organized office. Do your finances organized?

James Reply

What would be your ideal outcome from working together?

Andrew Reply

How soon will you be able to proceed with my recommendations?

Elgin Reply

„Sie vertuen weniger Zeit mit der Sorge um die Finanzen und können sich schöneren Dingen widmen.
Sie haben eine Ansprechpartnerin, die Ihnen zuhört und Sie unterstützt.
Sie können sich weniger Sorgen um Ihr Vermögen machen und sich sicherer fühlen.\”

Elgin Reply

How do you feel today?

Robert Levin Reply

Why are you taking the time to talk to me today?

Stephen Buckle Reply

What do you want?

Andrew Reply

Why are you here?

Greg McDonald Reply

What is it that you want your financial planner to do for you?

Jasmine Reply

What would success look like, feel like and sound like for you?

Marne Reply

What do you want in life? Why am I here? What do you expect from…?

Erik Olson Reply

I\’ve been liking a series of four questions suggested by Mitch Anthony, the first of which is \”What is your story?\”

wunmi Reply

What would the future hold for you if you lose your job today?

Cindy Reply

What is that in your life, you value most? how it is important and why do you think so?

Vipin Reply

What do you value the most?

Mark Reply

What is your one overriding financial objective?

AZ Reply

What type of investments do you usually make? And how do you conduct your research?

Eric B. Soiland Reply

Why are you here today?

Brahma Reply

What\’s one thing you want accomplish today?

Say Seng, Ong Reply

Here is a bag of silver. Tell me how are you going to use it to make your life better.

Scott Weldon Reply

If you could have done one thing differently five years ago what would that have been?

Or you could solicit the same response from your client by asking this question:

If you could talk to the person you were ten years ago what would you have told yourself to be sure to do?

Martin Glennon Reply

Is there anyone you would commit a crime for?

Terry Lyon Reply

Hey Ronald, I love your blog…great insight. I start my meeting with my clients asking the question…At this point in your life, what matters most and it does not have to be financial ?

Lowell Reply

What\’s important about money to you?

Hilary Reply

Tell me about yourself

Charu Reply

What will be your financial Goals if i give you freedom of surplus funds available?

Mike Davis Reply

Where are you now compared to where you wanted to be?

John Reply

On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable do you feel about retirement?
Follow up questions to explore emotional and financial reasons for their answer.

Daniel Claudio Reply

Who do you want to be? What (financial) goals can you derive from this vision? What can you do now and in the future to achieve these (financial) goals?

Giorgio/Italy Reply

what are you afraid of? what goal do you want to achieve with your money? what goal do you want to achieve with your debt ?

Andrew Watts Reply

How would a major catastrophe affect your plans? What would life look like for those in your family tree?

Andrew Watts Reply

What is retirement looking like for you? Is that ok?

Gary Reply

If you compared 5-10 years ago with now what would you do differently?

Ben Reply

What is important to you in an adviser?

Mike Reply

How can I make your life easier?

William Offen Reply

So what\’s the alternative?

Charles Donahue Reply

\”Shall we get started creating a plan to help you achieve all of your financial and life goals?\”

You must ask for the business 100% of the time.

If they say yes then ask:

\”Tell me about a time when you created a plan followed through with it and made something really great happen in your life?\”

William Offen Reply

In an ideal world, what do you want to get out of our meeting today?

Andrew Reply

What are you passionate about?

Andrew Reply

What would you say right now, is your one, major, overriding finacial objective?

Richard Reply

How can I help you?

Mike Clark Reply

Tell me about yourself

Phil Reply

When we sit down again in a years time, what would need to be different or to have happened to feel that you are making progress towards achieving your lifetime goals ?

Greg Reply

I think the best question I ask is what are your short term and long term financial goals? It helps me find those problems and discuss how to resolve them.

Ryan Reply

What money messages, direct or indirect, did you receive from your parents?

Alastair Reply

If your income stopped how long could you fund your lifestyle for?

Paul Reply

If you had died recently and your family were coming into my office to ask me what their financial future was looking like, what would be the 3 most pertinent questions they\’d want answers to and what answers do you want me to provide them?

Matt Reply

what are the implications of doing nothing

mark Reply

(Mr/Mrs Client) Why are you here (in my office) today?

Mandy Reply

What does money mean to you?

Nicole Reply

The most important part of the financial planning process is actually implementing the advice – therefore the most valuable question is \”May we proceed?\”

John Reply

How can I help you.

Michael Reply

To get started, please tell me about you and your family.

Maggie Reply

It is hard to add to this fantastic list. Once dreams, goals and worries are on the table we ask \”How do you make decisions?\”

Peter Reply

Once you retire, where do you want to go, what do you want to do with your life?

You & I can then work out how to make sure you can get there.

When can we start working together?

Paul Burch Reply

On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you of achieving your goals without the help if a financial planner?

Enes Reply

what are you seeking from a financial planner.

Marti Reply

What prompted you to reach out? What are you most dissatisfied with in your present situation?

Jack White Reply

In a non-office type presentation room (3 comfortable chairs in front of a big screen TV [HD serving as computer monitor]) we ask, in a variety of ways depending on what we learned from initial pleasantries: \”What brings you to our office today?. In essence we\’re asking why ore you here an less threatening, in our opinion, way to ask \”What\’s important about money to you?\”

Julie Reply

What\’s important to you?

Michael Chindamo Reply

What is the most important legacy do you want your family to remember you by?

Chris Nairn Reply

If we were having this conversation, and it was three years from today, and you are looking back over your life, back to today, what has to happen both personally and professionally for you to feel happy with your progress? Courtesy of Dan Sillivan

Derek Reply

Why am I here? or What are you hoping I can do for you?

Scott Reply

If you didn\’t have to work and there were no boundaries to what you could do, how would you ideally spend your time

Marc Reply

If money was no issue at all, what would you be doing today? In 5 years? In 10 years?

marc Reply

It\’s not a question, at least not right away. It\’s a warm smile; eye contact; a good handshake. Then the killer question: it\’s really good to see you today…how are you?

Ian Kemp Reply

If we could achieve just one thing together over the next six months , what would that be?

Joe Reply

When you finally achieve financial independence, what do you intend doing with the rest of your life?

Ben Reply

What would an ideal relationship look like for you with someone like me?

Hubrien Meijaard Reply

I am a dutch financial life planner so my important question is: \”wat geeft je rust?\” .
Allright, i\’ll try to translate…..\”What gives you ease/give a rest/peace of mind/tranquillity…?\” Ronald help me, whta is the best translation for \”rust\” here…?!

    Ronald Sier Reply

    I would say peace of mind Hubrien 🙂

Doron Strusberg Reply

Do you want to have a machine that will make you money or do you want to have your own proccess of making money?

Rutvij Reply

Me and my team did extensive homework to improve YOUR financial life.

Darren Reply

If money was no object, what would you like to be doing with your life in 10 years time?

Andrew Reply

Are you ready to start taking control of your retirement?

Peter Reply

What are your goals for the future?

Chetan Reply

What are your immediate concerns that you would like addressed and what should be the outcome of this meeting or the series of meetings that may happen during the course of our planning process?

Mark Reply

The ideal questions varies in every situation

Vasileios Reply

Would you like to smile during your whole life no matter what?

Anita Reply

How do you measure personal success in your life and how does money relate to it?

Michel Metten Reply

Where stands your famuliy in 5 years?

James Reply

What do you care most about and what is it worth to you?

Blake Reply

WHY have you come to see me today?

Mark Reply

What are your expectations of me as your adviser and by what would you measure our relationship a success?

Brett Surman Reply

\”What\’s important about money to you?\”

Greg Reply

Suppose we\’re talking 5 years from now and you\’re really happy with the direction your life has taken. What has happened over that time? What has made your life fulfilling and rich?

Helen Harrison Reply

Please rate your satisfaction with your current financial situation between 1 and 10 ? … What would need to happen to rate it a 10 ?

Mike Leffler Reply

Marsha, I really like, \”What is important to you?\” I think I\’ll make that my question too. Hope you don\’t mind.

riobert wander Reply

what\’s your most important financial goal?

Wayne Reply

Tell me about your kids.

Michael Reply

How have you been affected by the recession?

Justin Reply

What about your finances keeps you up at night?

Marsha Reply

What is important to you?

Tyler Reply

Is the goal to have the most money, or to achieve the actual goal?

Martyn Reply

If you knew you couldnt fail what would you really want to do with your life.

Wil Huizinga Reply

Which non-financial issues will you encounter in retirement?

Justin Reply

What would a great outcome from working with me look like?

Carien Jutting Reply

In five years how do you visualize your life to be ? I concentrate of life and family goals. Then work on how to achieve them.

andrew Reply

If we were meeting 3 years from today, what has to have happended for you to be satisfied with your progress.

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