Making Progress

A couple of months ago, I had a conversation with an advisor who was in the process of changing firms. He admitted that he was a bit surprised when a few clients elected not to follow him to the new firm.

These were great clients that he had coached through several difficult planning decisions.

Ultimately, he concluded that, “people have short memories.”

It’s amazing how much of a boost we receive when we feel like we are making progress. Video game designers build levels and quests into their games to increase engagement (and playing time).

For example, here is a progression screen from the game Clash Royale:

This is my son’s favorite game right now so you can imagine why he always wants to play “just one more battle” so he can receive the next reward.

I once heard a productivity tip that suggested starting a to-do list by writing “Make to-do list” so you can immediately cross something off. Be honest, don’t you feel a pull to finish this list?

Clients are looking for the same sense of progress and momentum. That’s why we recommend referring to ongoing meetings with clients as a “Progress Review” instead of a “Portfolio Review.”

During those meetings, you can emphasize where they are, where they’ve been and where they’re going. It can even be helpful to occasionally look further back to where they were before they started working with you.

The progression doesn’t have to be focused on assets. You could remind them of the peace of mind they now have. Or the challenges they’ve overcome personally or financially. Perhaps they are now debt-free or have established a legacy plan. If they are in the accumulation stage but facing a down market, you can emphasize the number of shares they’ve acquired.

As Jim Rohn said, “Success is steady progress toward one’s personal goals.” Therefore, financial advisors and planners should remind clients of their progress so they feel their success.

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