We live in a world of data overload. We are constantly being bombarded with information and messaging about how to think, act and even dream. The average American is on their smartphone for 5.4 hours per day. That is not even including the time in front of other devices like a work computer or television. It's hard to navigate the noise when there is always so much going on.
Our clients are experiencing this data dump every single day. With access to so much, our clients are also being asked to multitask responsibilities and decisions at similar levels of intensity. It's exhausting and makes it almost impossible to be present, much less to reflect.
Interestingly enough, the world of financial planning has also found a way to be part of this fast-paced world by making it possible to have a "financial plan" in minutes. As an industry we certainly want to have the tools and resources to make planning more efficient, engaging and impactful, but we also want to make sure that we are helping clients navigate the noise.
When we ask our clients about when they want to retire, or what type of interests they have, or how they want to support their children's education, or what concerns them about their future, we must recognize that all of our clients have been exposed to messaging with how they are supposed to respond. There is a subconscious expectation of what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to plan.
In this fast-paced world, we have a unique opportunity to slow down the messaging and help clients pause, reflect, dream and act in a way that is aligned with what is most important to them. Yes, this absolutely can come with ongoing conversations over the course of the year; but we must do more.
Even the best comprehensive planning strategies can be thrown off course by the daily distractions that come with data overload. We must find ways to be more creative so that we can help our clients center and be supported with what they value and want.
So what is the solution?
In order to get to the heart of what our clients value and want, we need to help them learn how to ask themselves the right questions.
We need to find ways to break up the noise in our clients' lives even when we are not engaged in a conversation. We need to recognize how they are currently receiving financial education and information and find ways to create opportunities for reflection and alignment. This could come in a variety of ways.
What works well for each client is going to be different but in this age of access and technology we can easily get creative and be thought leaders using video, blogs, webinars, podcasts, tweets, pictures, web calls, regular calls and even good old in-person, random meet-ups.
The opportunity for positive impact is here. Clients need and want guidance more than ever. We just can't start with the big planning questions.
Katherine Liola is founder and CEO of Concentric Private Wealth.