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

Are You a Financial Planner? Do You Want to Know Why People Don't Buy Financial Planning?

If you want to boost your financial planning skills, you don't want to miss this free email course.

Just fill in your best email here below, and you'll receive the first lesson right into your inbox.




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

Waar denk je dan aan?

Mark Stern

what makes you happy?

Mark Stern

what do you want your future to look like?

Bill Mullen

What does retirement mean to you?

Bill Mullen

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

Joe George

What prompted you to meet me today?

Anish Vora

The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind


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


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

Leo Harper

How are you?


What is important to you


What’s important about money to you?


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


What is important about that to you?


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?


What is your biggest concern / goal ?


What was money like for you growing up?

Alvin Yeo

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?


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…


What’s your idea of financial freedom?

Mark Fenton

How can I help you?


What does success mean to you

Brian Koch

What does success mean to you?


Why are you here?

Chris Wheatman

“What’s important to you?”


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

Ben Northwood

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

Nobby Kleinman

How much will be enough?


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


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

dev golchha

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

What would you like to accomplish today?

Alan Fleischauer

I ask: Why are you here.


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

What are your dreams?


Why are you here? What do you need?

Daniel Riecker

What is your legacy?


Tell me more.


Wie kann ich Ihnen helfen?


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

John Kostic

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

David Patrickson

What is it that keeps you awake at night?


What worries you most at the moment?

Allistar Walker

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?


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


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

Joe Maree

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

Ross Feldman

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

Abubakr Siddique

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


What would be your ideal outcome from working together?


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


„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.\”


How do you feel today?

Robert Levin

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

Stephen Buckle

What do you want?


Why are you here?

Greg McDonald

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


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


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

Erik Olson

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


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


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


What do you value the most?


What is your one overriding financial objective?


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

Eric B. Soiland

Why are you here today?


What\’s one thing you want accomplish today?

Say Seng, Ong

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

Scott Weldon

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

Is there anyone you would commit a crime for?

Terry Lyon

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 ?


What\’s important about money to you?


Tell me about yourself


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

Mike Davis

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


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

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?


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

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

Andrew Watts

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


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


What is important to you in an adviser?


How can I make your life easier?

William Offen

So what\’s the alternative?

Charles Donahue

\”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

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


What are you passionate about?


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


How can I help you?

Mike Clark

Tell me about yourself


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 ?


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.


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


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


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?


what are the implications of doing nothing


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


What does money mean to you?


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


How can I help you.


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


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?\”


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

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


what are you seeking from a financial planner.


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

Jack White

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?\”


What\’s important to you?

Michael Chindamo

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

Chris Nairn

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

Hubrien Meijaard

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

    I would say peace of mind Hubrien 🙂

Doron Strusberg

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


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


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


Are you ready to start taking control of your retirement?


What are your goals for the future?


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?


The ideal questions varies in every situation


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


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

Michel Metten

Where stands your famuliy in 5 years?


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


WHY have you come to see me today?


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

Brett Surman

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


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

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

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

what\’s your most important financial goal?


Tell me about your kids.


How have you been affected by the recession?


What about your finances keeps you up at night?


What is important to you?


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


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

Wil Huizinga

Which non-financial issues will you encounter in retirement?


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

Carien Jutting

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.


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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