Blog Post

Business Strategy

We don't buy what we don't understand

Kim-Payne's avatar
Icon for Advisely Partner rankAdvisely Partner
8 months ago

We don’t buy what we don’t understand. We’re human.

When it comes to getting financial advice, so many people still fail to understand what it is, let alone how valuable it can be – so they don’t pursue it.

Let me ask: have you ever had a client seem eager when you first meet and then, no matter how many times you follow up, they don’t continue onto the next stage? Or have you ever had a ‘loyal’ existing client go elsewhere for advice that you provide?

For example, they see another adviser for risk or a mortgage – because, in their mind, you only look after their investments. And what’s even more frustrating is you know you’ve told them (many times) about all the different areas of advice you can provide, yet they still went elsewhere.

It’s not their fault. They didn’t remember all the goodness you’re capable of as they have a million other things on their mind. And they associate you with being the expert at what they are getting advice on now. The rest is in one ear, out the other.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Financial advice (whatever you specialise in) may be simple to you, but it does not mean it’s simple to others. Even really smart people with a litany of letters after their name can struggle to fully comprehend the complexities of what you do.

Too often I see advisers sit in front of new clients and try to showcase everything they do and all the areas of advice where they can help. After all, this will be an impressive repertoire that should impress a new client, right?


Too much information can do the reverse and instead serve to overwhelm an unsuspecting client. And a confused mind does nothing. When this happens, people may say they need to go away and "think about it".

The problem is, half the time, they don’t even know what they are going away to think about. Confusion overrides any rational thinking and all they can do is "run".

So, how can this be avoided? One way is to help clients better understand the value of your advice by making sure you set the scene and provide context as early on as possible in the relationship. You may already be doing this in your way, but having a variety of ways to help the message stick can help.

Here's one of my favourites: since people often forget the words you say, it can be easier for them to understand your message by using images/diagrams. This can help people make a clear link between the events that are going on in their lives (expected and unexpected) and the advice you provide.

Helping clients "join the dots" is often the missing link that can help people move forward. Here’s an example of how you can use images to set the scene and provide context for a lasting relationship with a client:

You could explain it like this: “Over your life, there are many decisions you need to make and events that will take place. Some of them you can plan and some will be unexpected.

"It’s important that we understand what your life looks like and, importantly, what you want it to look like – the people you love, what you value, what you believe in, and what makes you happy. In most cases, there is an underlying financial decision or implication that accompanies each event.

"And that’s where we step in.”

Then you can explain that you tap into all the different financial tools available (such as technical strategies, financial modelling, financial products etc) and come up with the right mix at the right time to ensure the decisions they make with their money is the right fit for their life.

This is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. If a piece is missing or in the wrong place, the picture is incomplete. Obviously, you'd need to make sure the conversation is relevant to the client you are with, but you get the gist.

A client of mine sponsored their daughter’s netball club. As part of the sponsorship arrangement, they could place a copy of their corporate brochure on all the dinner tables. How much business do you think they received from doing this?


One year, I challenged them to create a version of their brochure using the above diagram.

One of the icons they had was for "multiple marriages". This caught one of the guests’ eyes and they grabbed the brochure from the table, walked over to the adviser, pointed to the multiple marriage icon and asked, “Can you please arrange this for me?"

After many laughs, everyone else at the table picked up the brochure to see what they were laughing about. Curious, they all read it and another guest piped up, “I didn’t know you did all this; I just thought you did investments."

They got more business from that brochure than any other marketing efforts over the year. The beauty of using diagrams like this is it also helps people understand the breadth of what you offer (either directly or through referral/affiliate relationships) and the complexities of their life (just by virtue of being human).

You get to highlight that they may only need advice around one or two areas right now but as their life unfolds and they need advice in other areas, you’ve got them covered. What they need to know is how all the different events that go on in their life would trigger a need for your advice.

Remembering this is much easier than trying to remember all the technical things you provide.

It’s a powerful way to set the context and help people join the dots between their lives and the value of your advice.

That’s gotta be win-win for all.

Updated 26 days ago
Version 10.0


  • Anne-Graham's avatar
    Icon for Advisely Index Top 10 rankAdvisely Index Top 10

    Thanks Kim - it's happened to the best of us and is painful when a client goes elsewhere for advice because they didn't know they could get that advice from their current adviser. We all receive information differently and sometimes need to get the message out there multiple times. Visuals are great and easy to understand and remember and I love the visual in your article. 

  • roccomusumeci's avatar
    Exploring Newcomer

    Great article Kim, I love your emphasis on using visuals to showcase the value of advice. Have you considered videos to walk through the planning process for major life events? I've found short and sharp videos can vividly demonstrate how advisers help clients in an easily digestible way. Videos often edge out static images by bringing stories to life, sparking a deeper connection that stills can't quite capture, especially when tapping into the digital pulse of today's audience.

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