Todd Sixt is the CEO of Strait & Sound. He is a successful and seasoned leader of financial service teams.
I’ve been writing a series of articles about best practices for wealth managers. In this article, I’d like to share another valuable idea that I’ve seen transform client relationships for the better—mind mapping. Mind maps are visual representations of what’s going on in someone’s mind.
Wealth managers often serve affluent clients who have a lot on their plates and on their minds. If a person works hard for decades to build wealth, this should bring them joy and peace of mind. Unfortunately, the exact opposite has often been true, in my experience. People work hard, invest and practice good discipline. But instead of their wealth bringing them peace of mind, it brings even more worries and anxiety. To help clients address this problem, I’d like to describe who needs a mind map, how to develop one and five reasons to do so.
Who needs a mind map?
Mind maps are about the best tool I’ve ever seen to tame complexity in a client’s life. For me, that’s the keyword—complexity. When a client has a complex personal and work life and a complex financial situation, this is a recipe for joy-sapping anxiety. In some instances, the more money someone accumulates, the worse the problem becomes. What sort of complexity?
• Multigenerational families where elders seek to keep the generations united and emotionally connected—generations who often do not share the same values or worldview.
• Business owners or senior executives who are time-starved from their work.
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• Families with complex holdings that might include equity in a private business, collectibles like gold, commercial real estate, trusts, investments of various kinds and more than one home.
• Families with numerous professional advisors, including a certified public accountant (CPA), estate attorney, insurance advisor and more than one financial advisor.
People like this often have so much on their minds that it’s hard for them to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
How do you develop a mind map?
A mind map helps clients see, in one simple picture, what matters to them and what they’re trying to achieve. For many clients, seeing their mind map for the first time is almost a cathartic experience where they say to themselves, “No wonder I’m anxious—just look at everything that’s on my mind.”
Most wealth managers are already trained in an important precursor to the mind map—discovery. We ask clients a broad-ranging set of questions to understand their situation. Wealth managers, unlike other types of financial advisors, ask questions about topics that go well beyond investments.
If you already have a solid discovery process, a mind map is a logical next step that will make discovery even more powerful for your clients. I’ve coached wealth managers over the years to separate their discovery questions into a few different categories that might include:
• Connections: who they love and the dreams they have for those people.
• Principles: the guiding values they’ve lived their lives by.
• Goals: what they’re trying to accomplish in life.
• Assets: what they own and how this contributes to net worth.
• Counselors: who they trust to serve them (like CPAs, attorneys insurance advisors and the like).
• Hobbies: their interests and passions.
If your discovery process is similar, developing a mind map should be a breeze. You simply take the answers the client gives you and add them to a mind map. But that simple next step could transform your client relationships. Why do I say this?
If there’s one frustration I’ve heard from affluent clients over the years it’s that their advisor doesn’t seem to really get them. The client feels like the service and advice they get is perfectly adequate but not really tailored to their situation. It feels cookie-cutter. Usually, they’re right. As advisors, we learn how to do things a certain way, and we often don’t alter our approach that much from one client to the next.
A mind map is a great solution to fix this problem. If we ask great questions and then show the client we were really listening—by way of the mind map—they feel that we get them. That fosters trust and goodwill. But this also allows us to be proactive, do research and make recommendations that align with their goals and dreams. That’s powerful.
Why should you use a mind map?
I believe there are five very good reasons to make mind maps a part of your client service approach.
1. It’s a great way to get to know clients deeply.
The process of building a mind map gives you a view into a client’s life that can be very comprehensive.
2. It lets your clients know that you really do care about them.
If you put time and effort into building a mind map, it sends clients a message that says, “I really care about you and want to help.”
3. It confirms to the client that you really heard and understand them.
Reviewing a comprehensive mind map can be a powerful experience for a client. I sometimes use a puzzle metaphor to describe this. If you buy a puzzle, you’ll usually see what the final picture is supposed to look like on the box cover. But often, the only thing the client has been seeing is a disorganized 1,000-piece puzzle. Your mind map shows them the full picture in one simple view, maybe for the first time in their life.
4. It empowers you to see where your clients need help the most.
Most wealth managers are process-oriented, taking clients through a series of steps. But where should you start, and how do you know that’s the best starting point? A mind map can make this clear.
5. It allows you to be proactive.
Clients love it when we see problems before they do, conduct our own research and then bring them our analysis both of the problem and of solutions we recommend. A mind map makes this entirely possible.
If you’re not using a mind map today, I recommend that you carefully consider this valuable tool. It could really improve your client relationships.
The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.
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As an expert in wealth management and financial services, I've been actively involved in the industry for years, gaining extensive experience and insight into the challenges faced by affluent clients. The article by Todd Sixt, CEO of Strait & Sound, resonates with my own observations and practices in the field.
Todd Sixt emphasizes the transformative impact of mind mapping on client relationships, particularly for wealth managers dealing with complex financial situations. I've witnessed firsthand the power of mind maps in addressing the intricacies of affluent clients' lives and bringing clarity to their financial objectives. Now, let's delve into the key concepts discussed in the article:
1. Mind Maps to Tame Complexity:
- Wealth managers often deal with clients facing complexity in personal and work life, exacerbating anxiety. Mind maps emerge as an effective tool to simplify and organize these complexities.
- Examples of complexity include multigenerational families, time-starved business owners, families with diverse holdings, and those with multiple professional advisors.
2. Developing a Mind Map:
- A mind map serves as a visual representation of clients' thoughts, helping them see what matters and what they aim to achieve.
- The process involves leveraging a well-established discovery process, categorizing client information into areas such as connections, principles, goals, assets, counselors, and hobbies.
3. Addressing Client Frustrations:
- Affluent clients often express frustration that their advisors don't truly understand them, leading to a perception of generic, cookie-cutter advice.
- Mind maps bridge this gap by demonstrating active listening and understanding, fostering trust, and enabling tailored recommendations aligned with clients' goals and dreams.
4. Five Reasons to Use Mind Maps:
- Deep Client Understanding: Building a mind map provides a comprehensive view of a client's life.
- Demonstrating Care: The effort invested in creating a mind map signals genuine care and commitment to helping clients.
- Confirmation of Understanding: Reviewing a mind map assures clients that their advisor truly heard and comprehends their situation.
- Identifying Areas Needing Assistance: Mind maps empower wealth managers to pinpoint where clients require the most help.
- Proactive Engagement: The tool allows advisors to be proactive in identifying and addressing issues before clients are even aware.
5. Recommendations for Wealth Managers:
- The article concludes by recommending that wealth managers seriously consider incorporating mind maps into their client service approach to enhance relationships and improve overall client satisfaction.
In summary, the utilization of mind maps in wealth management serves as a powerful strategy to navigate the complexities of clients' lives, foster deeper understanding, and provide tailored solutions, ultimately contributing to improved client relationships and satisfaction.