As financial planners seek out differentiation in an increasingly crowded environment, a new trend is emerging towards the use of more interactive software tools to provide a more engaging client experience. While many of these new approaches revolve around the use of financial planning software live with clients – replete with quick data entry support and sliders for clients to manipulate the goals and see immediate impact – the reality is that even the old-fashioned data gathering meeting represents an opportunity to use technology to better engage new clients, and the tool of choice appears to be the mind map.
Although mind mapping has been used in other business contexts – from keeping personal thoughts organized to creative team brainstorming meetings – the tool may be especially appealing for financial planning, as it not only visually captures a lot of client information that is otherwise hard to see all at once, but it does so in a manner that provides a tangible deliverable to what others is some of the most intangible “shadow work” that we do for clients. Whether as a way to justify fee increases, or simply to increase the firm’s value proposition, adopting mind mapping becomes an appealing way to create perceived value for work that is ultimately useful for clients but also time-intensive and often unrecognized.
The rising interest in the use of mind mapping in financial planning has even led to the emergence of a training program being offered specifically to advisors on how to use the tool with clients, build a business model around it, and provides some templates to help get started. Of course, ultimately any mind mapping templates will still become very specific to the planning firm and its clientele – in no small part because the template becomes a de facto checklist process for the client discovery meeting – so some firms may simply wish to dive in themselves and get started! But regardless of the adoption route that is chosen, mind mapping appears to be an increasingly appealing tool for cutting edge firms to create a unique value and experience for clients.