Many financial advisors have traditionally aimed to present the financial plan as a thick, bound, all-encompassing document to be used as a tool to help clients achieve their financial goals. But beyond providing an in-depth roadmap for clients, the financial plan also demonstrates the expertise and value financial advisors offer. To help streamline the financial planning process and shift the emphasis from creating a one-time financial plan to providing ongoing financial planning guidance more easily, Carl Richards authored his book The One-Page Financial Plan, which focuses on the most important information a client needs to know in a one-page report. Even though it was originally faced with some opposition in the financial advisory industry, the one-page financial plan has increasingly become adopted among many advisors in recent years to the extent that financial planning software companies now incorporate tools to help advisors easily develop one-page financial ‘snapshots’ for their clients.
In our 89th episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and client communication expert Carl Richards discuss how the one-page plan has helped advisors present clear goals to their clients while still presenting their value proposition, how changes in the financial advisory industry have led to broader adoption of a one-page plan, and what it means for financial advisors now that financial planning software companies are adopting shorter reports as a tool.
As a starting point, it’s important to understand that financial snapshots don’t replace the work of creating a full financial plan itself. Rather, a one-page plan is an alternative to the deliverable for the client that not only saves the advisor (and the client) time, but also provides a living document for the advisor and the client that is easily updated over time throughout the advisor-client relationship. A full, traditional financial plan can be long and time-consuming to create. Which means that it may only be updated once every several years, if at all. A shorter snapshot version, on the other hand, is easier to update on an ongoing basis, which helps the advisor and the client change course (if need be) and helps keep the financial plan on track. The ability to make more frequent changes to the financial plan gives the advisor opportunities to provide proactive changes to the plan, while sustaining the client relationship over time.
Importantly, while advisors may have been likened to ‘mapmakers’ solely responsible for creating a plan, changes in technology and digital communication have enabled financial advisors to do full, in-depth analyses while connecting with clients to update their plans more dynamically and, in the process, serving more as ‘guides’ on their clients’ financial journeys.
Ultimately, the key point is that as financial planning software companies continue to offer automated tools that help advisors keep track of progress alongside their clients, advisors can focus more on building more dynamic relationships with their clients instead of just creating a static path for clients to reach their financial goals. Because going on the journey together with clients can increase touchpoints throughout the relationship, which increases trust and deepens relationships!