Change the Conversation

A subject that retired clients never seem to tire of revolves around how long their portfolio will last.  The conversations inevitably center on the short-term market fluctuations and ignore the role that spending plays in the overall equation.

We have discovered an effective way to steer those conversations in a productive direction.

“If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.” 

Don Draper, the protagonist and advertising wizard in AMC’s smash hit Mad Men, is the Leonardo DaVinci of the art of changing the conversation to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

His skill is best demonstrated by, what is now just referred to as “the letter.”  Don’s letter, “Why I am Quitting Tobacco” was actually a full-page ad in The New York Times.  He ran it when he found out that his firm was losing its top account, Lucky Strike.

Dramatic, yes.  Effective, absolutely.  His phone started ringing with new prospects.

While this is fictional example, it can serve as an object lesson for advisors.

Changing the Conversation with Retirees 

While it is important for advisors to discuss market conditions and portfolio construction, it is equally important for clients to understand the role spending plays on a retirement portfolio.

Spending habits can be a touchy subject.  If handled incorrectly, the client becomes defensive or shuts down.

To facilitate conversations about spending, Brinker Capital has made a small but incredibly effective change to its quarterly reports on its retirement income solution.

A client reviewing a Brinker Capital Personalized Distribution Strategy report gets two valuable bits of information in addition to investment performance.  The first is communicated with a simple icon.   A traffic light.  The light’s color – red, yellow or green – changes in relation to the planning assumptions made, market performance and spending patterns.

The client is instantly oriented with the meaning behind the data, and knows what to do.

The other valuable piece of information that engages the client in discussion is a forward-looking estimate as to how long their money is going to last.  For example, a quarterly report might indicate that under current market and spending conditions, Client X’s portfolio will last 23 years.

It’s the number of years that grabs their attention.  They can connect with a number far better than they can with a percentage.

While the icons may not be as dramatic as Don Draper’s letter, they are effective. Sometimes by saying something in a slightly different way, you can ignite greater understanding among clients and increase their likelihood of success.

A subject that retired clients never seem to tire of revolves around how long their portfolio will last.  The conversations inevitably center on the short-term market fluctuations and ignore the role that spending plays in the overall equation.

We have discovered an effective way to steer those conversations in a productive direction.

“If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.” 

Don Draper, the protagonist and advertising wizard in AMC’s smash hit Mad Men is the Leonardo DaVinci of the art of changing the conversation to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

His skill is best demonstrated by, what is now just referred to as “the letter.”  Don’s letter, “Why I am Quitting Tobacco” was actually a full-page ad in the New York Times.  He ran it when he found out that his firm was losing its top account, Lucky Strike.

Dramatic, yes.  Effective, absolutely.  His phone started ringing with new prospects.

While this is fictional example, it can serve as an object lesson for advisors.

Changing the Conversation with Retirees 

While it is important for advisors to discuss market conditions and portfolio construction, it is equally important for clients to understand the role spending plays on a retirement portfolio.

Spending habits can be a touchy subject.  If handled incorrectly, the client becomes defensive or shuts down.

To facilitate conversations about spending, Brinker has made a small but incredibly effective change to its quarterly reports on its retirement income solution.

A client reviewing a Brinker Personalized Distribution Strategy report gets two valuable bits of information in addition to investment performance.  The first is communicated with a simple icon.   A traffic light.  The light’s color – red, yellow or green – changes in relation to the planning assumptions made, market performance and spending patterns.

The client is instantly oriented with the meaning behind the data, and knows what to do.

The other valuable piece of information that engages the client in discussion is a forward-looking estimate as to how long their money is going to last.  For example, a quarterly report might indicate that under current market and spending conditions, Client X’s portfolio will last 23 years.

It’s the number of years that grabs their attention.  They can connect with a number far better than they can with a percentage.

Our icons aren’t as dramatic as Don Draper’s letter, but they are effective. Sometimes by saying something in a slightly different way, you can ignite greater understanding among clients and increase their likelihood of success.

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