Engaging Clients in the Planning Process
I have two friends, Jane and John, each of whom wants to build a new home. When I asked Jane about her new home, she was able to tell me about every detail – the floor plan, the windows, the appliances, the HVAC system, the roofing; and she described the lot to me in such a way that I could actually see the waves gently lapping on the lake shore, the dry stream bed that would run along the hill side of her lot and the mature trees that I imagine will keep her busy raking leaves in the autumn. She showed me the home plans for the house and it was just as she had described. She had spent many hours tinkering with the original plans to get them just the way she wanted.
When I asked John about his future home, he simply told me “oh, it will be really nice.”
“How many bedrooms are you going to have?”
“Maybe 2 or 3….or 4 if feel like I need them.”
“Well how about the kitchen? Are you going to have an eat in kitchen, or an island with seating?”
“I’m not sure. But I’ll definitely have a kitchen!”
“Open floor plan?”
“Absolutely! Unless I decide to have a more traditional layout. We’ll see once it’s built.”
When I asked John to see the home plan, he (not surprisingly) didn’t have one to show me. He figured he would start buying wood, screws, tiles, shingles – and just start building piece by piece. He had no plan to bring those pieces together.
Now, who do you think will be happier with their house when it is finally completed? (This is a trick question, because the chances of John building an actual house that will meet building codes are slim to none!).
Thankfully, neither Jane nor John are real so we will be spared having to see the results of the latter’s ill-advised approach to building a home. We can chuckle at the absurdity of this example, but think about how many people you know who don’t have a plan – a true, living, dynamic plan- for their retirement. They may have a vague idea of what their retirement will look like, but is that enough to get them there?
Bringing a plan to life
When developing a blueprint for a home, a client will painstakingly think through every detail. Width of doorways, placement of electrical outlets, number of smoke detectors, type of fixtures, width of hallways. Perhaps they will want the architect to show them the plan if they erase this wall, add this window, move this closet, rearrange this layout. It is a living, changing document that the client can collaborate with the architect on ideas and see what the results will be.
Like a home’s blueprint, a retirement plan needs to be thought out and detailed. How much income will they need? Will they travel? Build their dream home? Move to Italy? Do they intend to leave a financial legacy? More than likely, their goals will change and morph over time, so they need a plan that can be adjusted and a financial architect who can help them see what they need to do to get there.
Much like a house, a successful retirement requires a plan. Sadly, the financial industry has ruined the experience of retirement planning by removing the client from the planning process. Simplicitree© brings the “pencil and paper” experience back to your clients, and allows them to claim ownership of their plan. With a Simplicitree© plan, they can change this amount, remove this investment, add this life insurance policy and immediately see how it affects their retirement planning. It becomes a blueprint that will guide them through future decisions; it will grow and change with their life situations. Perhaps more importantly, you can empower them with the knowledge that they can build the retirement of their dreams!