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A peek inside your client's mind

Robert Gignac doesn't do what you do, but he's a very important part of what you do: he's a client. Check out his five steps to get clients thinking realistically about their future - and what you need to know to help them.

Thursday, March 25th 2010, 10:00AM

Understanding current reality
We don't understand your industry - it frightens us. There is too much terminology and the media make many of us feel incredibly nervous about our financial futures. As professionals, you understand the value of compound interest, but do your clients? Every time you teach us something, your value goes up in our eyes - and you keep us longer as a client.

Richly imagined future
The phrase "richly imagined future" gets people thinking and dreaming about their goals. You need your clients to share their goals to create a comprehensive financial plan. If our goals are articulated, it becomes easy to get excited about things other people want for us when we never really have any intention of following through. Then, when we don't follow through, we get frustrated and angry and try to shift some blame to you for getting us interested in the first place.

Aptitude for disruption
Disruption is how we stop doing the things that are not giving us the future we want. It will shock some of your clients to find out their current behaviour will not get them the financial future they want. How do you demonstrate this concept of disruption? How are you approaching their plans and managing their anxiety about the current status of their nest egg? Take the time to explain how you are going to put them back together, creating better plans.

Power of choice
Speaking as a client of the industry, the greatest thing is the sheer volume of choice we have of tools to create a successful financial future. And yet that volume of choice leaves us confused. Help us make those choices and understand why option A is better than option B, and that option C can be a fallback. Most importantly, get us to understand that we shouldn't be doing it on our own.

We all have stories of people who waited too long to choose, and they - or their families - suffered the consequences. Are you having these discussions with your clients? If not, start now.

Picture in focus
We - clients and advisers - should all have a picture in our minds representing what we want to achieve in life. Don't talk to clients about products, as these are only the means to help them obtain the picture. Get them focused on that picture, and you can get them to make the sometimes difficult choices and commit to the plan you create for the long run. Show us that you are committed to us obtaining that picture, and we'll honor that with our loyalty to you as clients. 

Robert Gignac is owner of Taynac & Associates, a company focused on personal and financial development. A sought-after speaker and writer whose clients include Advocis, Manulife Bank, and Investors Group, Gignac is a self-described longtime student of financial planning whose goal is to encourage people to take control of their personal finances. He provides insight on personal financial literacy through his bimonthly column in Enterprise magazine. Gignac is also author of the Canadian best-seller, "Rich Is a State of Mind".  His entire MDRT presentation is available at

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