How Financial Planners Can Use Guarantees To Build Trust

How Financial Planners Can Use Guarantees To Build Trust

Build trust as a Financial Planner

Imagine grabbing a cab.

Picture yourself sitting on the back seat and looking at the taxi meter. Don’t you hate watching the taxi meter going up, knowing that every extra inch of the way is costing you?

Why do you hate this?

It’s because of the pain you are suffering. Not the physical pain of course, but rather an activation of the same brain areas associated with physical pain.

Now, picture your client paying an hourly financial planning fee. Is it any different?

Spending money hurts. Literally.

Your clients are not weighing their current gratification vs. future gratifications. They experience an immediate pang of pain when they think of how much they have to pay.

So what if you could remove your prospect and client’s pain of spending? Do you think it would benefit the number of people you want to serve?

The question is: how?

The Real Reason Why People Don’t Buy Financial Planning

You see, when we experience pain, a certain region of our brain – the insular – lights up under a brain scan. And not only for physical pain. But also a psychological pain.

So, what’s psychological pain?

Well, for example, spending money is.

It’s what social scientists call the “pain of paying”. This is the unpleasantness associated with giving up our hard-earned cash, regardless of the circumstances. It turns out that the pain of paying has two interesting features.

Via Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely:

First, and most obviously, when we pay nothing we don’t feel any pain of paying. Second, and less obviously, the pain of paying is relatively insensitive to the amount that we pay. This means that we feel more pain of paying as the bill increases, but every additional dollar on the bill pains us less!

This diminishing sensitivity to the pain of paying means that the first dollar we pay will cause the highest pain, the second dollar will cause us less, and so on, until we feel just a tiny twinge for, say, the forty-seventh dollar.

Let’s take this wisdom back to our financial planning service.

If you’re an ‘hourly-rate financial planner’ or a ‘monthly-fee financial planner’, what do you think happens when people have to pay you several times?


Every time they have to pay you, you let people feel the pain of paying. It doesn’t matter if the price is low, they still feel a psychological pain.

It gets worse.

Because researchers from Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, and MIT were able to show that activity in the insular can PREDICT whether people buy or not …

In the trial, participants first saw a product, then saw its price, and finally decided whether or not to purchase it.

As soon as participants saw the price, the insular got active… And activation was much greater for the products that people eventually didn’t buy, than for the products they did buy.

So when people don’t buy, it’s not just because they’re evaluating your service and thinking about what else they could do with the money, it’s also because they experience the IMMEDIATE psychological pain of spending!

And that proves it:


How to Make Buying your Financial Planning Service Hurt Less

First things first: why does buying your financial planning service hurt?

Well, the pain of spending stems from the fact that your financial planning service is an intangible service.

It’s not a product, which is tangible. It’s not insurance, which is tangible.

Financial planning, by contrast, is intangible. In fact, financial planning does not even exist when people buy it from you. So, your prospect buys a service with no guarantees – and because of that, he buys uncertainty. 

Such as:

  • The uncertainty that your service doesn’t live up to your prospect’s expectations.
  • The uncertainty that it may be a big waste of time.
  • And even worse, the uncertainty that they just made a wrong decision that cost them a lot of money.

So, what do you need to do?

You have to remove the uncertainty. Because when you remove the uncertainty, you increase the number of people who want to buy your service.

How do you do that?

Well, here’s the secret right off the bat:

You let people 'own' your financial planning service

(Backed by Science) Why Ownership Works 

Why does the seller of a house usually value that property more than the potential buyer? And why does the seller of an automobile envision a higher price than the buyer?

In many transactions why does the owner believe that his possession is worth more money than the potential owner is willing to pay?

There’s an old saying that goes like this: “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor”.

Well, when you’re the owner, you’re at the ceiling; and when you’re the buyer, you’re on the floor. In other words: the ownership of something increases its value in the owner’s eyes.

Ownership pervades our lives and, in a strange way, shapes many of the things we do. And since so much of our lives are dedicated to ownership, wouldn’t it be nice to make the best decisions about this? Wouldn’t it be nice, for instance, to know exactly how much we would enjoy the service of a financial planner?

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. People are mostly fumbling around in the dark. Here’s Dan Ariely again:

  1. People fall in love with what they already have. Ever sold a house? Then you probably remember the moment when you put the “For-Sale-Sign” in the window. You probably also remember the fine and special moments in that house. A warm glow of memory washes over you and the house. Now, I don’t think it’s very likely that people get a warm glow about their financial advisor, but still, it’s hard to say goodbye to him, because most of the time it feels fine to stay put;
  2. People focus on what they can lose, rather than on what they may gain. When we put a price on our beloved house, we think more about what we lose (the fine memories in the house) than what we will gain (future fine moments in the new house). Likewise, your client focuses on the good moments his current advisor helped him with some difficult money-issues.
  3. People assume others will see the transaction from the same perspective as they do. We somehow expect the buyer of the house to share our feelings, emotions, and memories. Or we expect the buyer of our house to appreciate how the sunlight filters through the kitchen windows. Unfortunately, the buyer of the house is more likely to notice the strip of black mold in the corner. Just like many new financial advisors notice the “gaps” in the previous financial advice, rather than the good parts.

Still, the question remains: how can you let your prospects ‘own’ your service while not letting them feel the ‘pain of paying’?

Here’s the answer: You give them a rock solid guarantee.

And I know what you’re thinking: I can’t give any guarantees about the outcomes of my financial plan!

I understand.

But that’s not what I mean. I mean a type of guarantee that transfers the uncertainty from the prospect to YOU, the financial planner.


Like when you don’t deliver the value as they would expect, they won’t be out of pocket.

Just think about Zappos, FedEx and – for the Dutch readers – Coolblue. These famous companies use the perfect guarantee for their customers. And they’ve built billion dollar businesses…

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Here are 4 Types of Guarantees You Can Use

Derek Halpern (founder of once wrote a post about guarantees. And it got me thinking how to use guarantees in our financial planning service.

And what’s the irrational thing you should know about guarantees?

You might think that guarantees with the least conditions are always the best. But that certainly isn’t true.

Research shows that if customers are uncertain about the outcome of using your service until they experience it, conditions actually make your offer more credible.

So, let me walk you through some types of guarantees you can use with your financial planning service.

Guarantee #1: The Standard Money Back Guarantee

Offering a money back guarantee doesn’t seem possible for our financial planning service, right?


I’ll tell you in a minute how to do that, but first remember this:

A simple money back guarantee won’t make your service stand out from your competition unless you’re the only one who is offering it!

When I started as a self-employed financial planner, I’ve implemented this in my own business. Here’s how I did it (sorry about the dutch language):


So, what happens here?

First of all, what I’m doing here is adding a little context.

You see, the most expensive option (the offer I don’t want people to choose) is seen as a price-anchor, making the other two options appear cheaper – and the cheapest option is a real no-brainer. The effect is that people rationalize purchasing the less expensive option by avoiding the most expensive option. You can read psychological evidence here.

But it’s not the only weapon in my psychological armory.

I’ve also added a money back guarantee to my € 195 option. People get a € 195 consultation with me. And if they aren’t satisfied, then they can easily use the money back guarantee. No strings attached.

Pretty powerful.

Guarantee #2: The Extensive Money Back Guarantee

If you want to go crazy, you can do what Zappos does. They offer a 365-day return policy.

There’s a huge benefit for you when using this strategy. Just think about what I told you about ownership a couple of sentences ago and you’ll know.

And by the way, you become really, really remarkable when using this strategy. And if you want to know why being remarkable is rewarding .., just click here.

(One side note: if you offer this type of money back guarantee, please put that money aside …)

Guarantee #3: More than Money Back Guarantee

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment. When they decide to hire you, they’re not only risking the money they spent. They’re also investing time and passing up other opportunities.

So, in reality, if they don’t like your service, they still suffer a loss, even if they get their money back.

As a clever financial planner, you can adjust the payoff of your guarantee and offer MORE than money-back to solve that problem…

You can say something like this: “If you aren’t satisfied, you get your money back AND we’ll guide you to other financial planners who can better serve you”.


Promoting other financial planners?

Yep. You’re right. Again, try to stand in your customer’s shoes. When you are offering a guarantee like this, you’re actually saying: “We really care about YOU (and not about our Assets under Management).

And by the why, science proves that vulnerability leads to powerful relationships with your prospects.

Guarantee #4: The Minimum Result Guarantee

Instead of a vague satisfaction guarantee, it’s always better to be clear and specific about the results customers can expect. And that’s what a minimum result guarantee does.

Now, I know that offering this type of guarantees can be scary. I mean, what result are you really delivering after say one year? You can’t say something like: “You’ll reach our lifetime financial goal in one year”.

So, what are the alternatives?

Think smaller. Look at the results you achieved with your previous clients. And ask yourself: what’s the minimum result I can guarantee? Maybe it’s something like:

  • Peace of mind after only one conversation
  • No financial-product-selling
  • A conversation about yourself first, and your finances second

Now, I understand that sometimes it can be really difficult to actually go out and implement these kinds of somewhat unusual guarantees, especially if you haven’t tried it before.

That’s why I’m offering you an extra PROVEN guarantee I’ve successfully implemented in my own service.

Copy and paste this guarantee, and you’ll ease the pain of paying.  I’ve created a FREE pdf with The Simple, Yet Rock Solid Guarantee that Makes Your (Hourly) Fee Feel Less Painful To Clients

The only thing you have to do is to answer this question: What guarantee do you (want to) use in your financial planning service?

Please, answer this question by leaving your comment – here below – and you’ll instantly receive a free PDF with The Simple, Yet Rock Solid Guarantee that Makes Your (Hourly) Fee Feel Less Painful To Clients

Thank you for your comment.

Let’s make financial planning matter.

Ronald Sier

Leave a Reply 65 comments

Ana Reply

I am impressed with the call to actions you have here. Nice!

Emil J. Velez Reply

What a wonderful post, you have put quite a lot of effort into this one, I can tell. Love everything about this, great post. Hope to see more such posts from you soon.

Jason M. Johnson Reply

Great post! and incredible blog! Very helpful post! I must say. Simple & interesting. Wonderful work!

greg sf Reply

I agree with the three plus a value guarantee, if we can’t show that you more value than we charge then your money back.

Artie Reply

Satisfaction guarantee– if not satisfied, your money back

Mirketa Reply

Thanks for sharing

Steve Kostovski Reply

Financial planning can be used for guarantees to build trust. But sometimes we might think that guarantees with the least conditions are always the best. And it’s actually not. There are types of guarantees as mentioned in the article that helps us think about how to use guarantees in our financial planning service.

Justin Reply

Happy with value provided or your money back

Nobby Kleinman Reply

Lifetime guarantee to save you money, with a 30-day money back guarantee.

David Reply

We guarantee to focus on you and not financial products

Kim Klein Reply

Peace of mind after only one conversation
No financial-product-selling
A conversation about yourself first, and your finances second

James Reply

Minimum result guarantee, along with the return policy with the price options.

julie lord Reply

If you’re not satisfied, pay us only what you think it’s worth.

Stephen Marsh Reply

If you’re not satisfied, pay us only what you think it’s worth.

Andrew Parkinson Reply

We guarantee to put your interests first.

Warren Reply

-Peace of mind after only one conversation
-No financial-product-selling
-A conversation about you first, and finances second

Roger Reply

I’d like to implement the minimum result guarantee, along with the return policy with the price options. The power of the multiple Price points has been evidenced to me before but I fail to introduce it. Time for change!!

Marie DeLauretis Reply

More than a money back guarantee (I will lead you to another Financial Planner who can help you) and the Minimum Result Guarantee with no product selling, peace of mind etc.

ELIzabeth Reply

No product selling

Ben Reply

Guarantee that we will always be on your side of the table.

Daniel Reply

No product selling

Ryan Noren Reply

If you’re not happy with our service, I’ll connect you with another planner

Gary Caulk Reply

If, after we have crafted your Plan, you don’t feel you have more clarity, confidence or peace of mind, we will waive or fee as we haven’t done our job properly

LG Reply

We guarantee our advice service is worth at least the cost or more in tangible tax savings and piece-of-mind you are maximising your financial position.

Justin cilmi Reply

We guarantee too put clients before products.

Alan Reply

If you’re not satisfied, pay us only what you think it’s worth.

Sloan Wilkins Reply

People before products; we place you at the centre of all the we do

Ben Reply

Peace of Mind Guarantee
No Product Selling

Cathy Reply

These are great guarantees:

-Peace of mind after only one conversation
-No financial-product-selling
-A conversation about you first, and finances second

On my scheduling page for a 30 minute prospect call, I guarantee that we’ll discuss an action step you can take immediately to improve your current situation.

Richard Truitt Reply

Payment only due if satisfied

Mike Reply

If the value of your plan is not obvious we will refund your money.

Joan Birdsell Reply

I’m not sure I could guarantee peace of mind after one conversation – peace of mind depends on more than financials in my mind, but I definitely could offer No Product Selling, a conversation about them first, financials second, as well as a referral to another planner. All great ideas!

Marc Reply

No product selling guarantee, coupled with referral to other professionals if I am not able to help the client

Brian Reply

12 month no questions asked money back guarantee if you aren’t happy or satisfied with our services. No strings attached.

Egor Reply

To implement immediately: More than Money Back Guarantee – I’ll guide you to other financial planners who can better serve you

Paul Reply

Hi Ronald,
thx for your guarantee examples. It fits ! Since a few weeks I have been thinking about my fees being paid easily.
And now I am inspired. I know from now on I will give more than a Money Back Guarantee, because it’s about them !

Ernie Reply

…the value you receive from the services will be equal to or greater than the fee…

Steve Reply

Guarantee to always put the clients interests first
Guarantee not to receive commissions
Guarantee to develop a personalised strategy to achieve goals
Guarantee to educate the client and to involve them in the process.

Thomas Reply

brilliant as always! 🙂
I offer a 100% Money back garantee if the customer is not fully satsfied with the outcome of the financial planning process.


Kim Reply

that we will focus on you and your goals not the amount of money in your bank account

Dougal Reply

I like the minimum results guarantee idea. Not sure yet what would be the minimum result specified, but I think it would have to be value based and measurable.

Chris Reply

Not selling a product and deliver a cost free written summary after the first meeting

Kees Klijsen Reply

I m prepared to garantee them a \’Wow-effect\’.

Theo Reply

We garantee them peace of Mind and if not for whatever reaseon I\’ll guide them to another planner.

Chris Reply

Let\’s agree a minimum fee of X, but if you don\’t feel that you\’ve received at least that much value from working with me, you don\’t need to pay me anything.

Hubrien Reply

The minimun result (wat also is the maximum…): peace of mind, not only at the end, but also during the planningproces.

Thanks Ronald for sharing this words here.

ML Reply

Satisfaction guarantee– if not satisfied, your money back

dazza Reply

guarantee you are now working toward your goals, and we guarantee our services will be provided and our value proposition is adhered to

kathy waite Reply

If you aren’t satisfied, you get your money back AND we’ll guide you to other financial planners who can better serve you”.

David Reply

better position

Jamie Reply

Hi Ronald, interesting post. What would I like to guarantee my clients? Tough one… Off the top I would say that I would like to guarantee them that I will be there with them through thick and thin, providing consistent and disciplined advice. That\’s been some of the most satisfying feedback I\’ve received from a few of my top clients….

Rob Reply

Excellent idea! This is definitely going into action.

Martin Reply

Not satisfied, you don\’t have to pay us. Risk reversal!

Francis Klonowski Reply

I\’d like to guarantee that I can bring some order to their financial situation – and help them improve the outcomes [NB – Website currently under review]

Andrew Reply

We promise to try our best to help them understand what weare telling them

Peter Reply

Guarantee to put the client\’s interest first over my own

Peter Reply

Minimum results guarantee seems to provide something more tangible – for example, you will have a complete financial picture before any advice is given

Peter Reply

Minimum results guarantee seems to provide something more tangible

Wil Reply

Promise X percentage savings.if savings nog achieved they recieve X percentage from our fee back.

Monica Reply

My guarantee is that the change I would make, using my advice would ultimately be free to them – that the value I create in savings, earnings, peace of mind and ease of management would outshine my fee entirely.

Dan Suiter Reply

I haven\’t put it in writing, but I guarantee my clients/prospective clients that during the first meeting \”…no paperwork to sign.\” and \”It\’s all about learning more about you; I will listen more than I talk.\”

Judith Reply

For me it would be all three of these:

Peace of mind after only one conversation
No financial-product-selling
A conversation about you first, and finances second

These are pretty much an unspoken guarantee within my practice at present.

Nikki Reply

I lOVE the \”No product selling\” guarantee – which is easy for me to implement.

Adam Carolan Reply

I think the guarantee that offers fees to be paid back if you are not providing value is a great idea and something I have been mulling over for a while.

Steve Seehawer Reply

fixed interest cap

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