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How to use visuals in your financial planning process

10 Oct 2022

Growing your investment portfolio

A picture is worth a thousand words. The familiar adage, first introduced to mainstream media in the 1920’s, changed the way that newspaper advertisements were designed. Daily and weekly periodicals prior to that were composed primarily of text. Can you imagine an article or ad without images? Discussing financial planning without visuals has the same effect.

Modern learning is classified into four categories. Reading/writing counts as one because its two sides of the same coin. Auditory learning has become more popular with the increased adoption of audio books. Kinesthetic learning is the “hands-on” physical approach. Visual learning, which is the fourth category, is what we want to talk about today.

Financial planning visual aid

Using Visual Aids to Help Tell the Story

We’ve all complained about boring PowerPoint presentations at some point in our professional careers. Consider the alternative. The presenter stands up in the front of the room and expounds for thirty minutes on a topic you can probably read about in your free time. An impassioned speaker might keep you awake through it. Retention is another story.

Visual aids help tell the story. Colleges and universities use visual aids to help students retain more of what they’ve learned for longer periods of time. Marketing agencies employ graphics and video to build brand awareness. Successful financial planners don’t just tell their clients about their plan. They use visual aids to show them how it works while they’re explaining it.

Every financial planner has a different communication style. Your clients chose you because of who you are, so we’re not suggesting a wholesale change in the way you interact with them. Think of this as adding illustrations to an already good book. Clients will still read the same story. They’ll just have a better opportunity to see your vision of what it’s about. 

Visual Aids versus Visual Overload

There is such a thing as too much information. Wealth management firms have gotten away from lengthy performance reports in recent years because they’ve found that clients don’t read them. It’s too much data to digest. The same trend is now gaining ground in financial planning. RightCapital Snapshot is a good example. It’s a one to two-page personalized plan summary.

Less can be more. Consolidating information and condensing it into a simple readable format is one of the best ways to reach clients in this fast-paced world that we live in. The infamous Microsoft “goldfish study” profiled by Time Magazine in 2015 says that humans have an attention span of 8.25 seconds. A goldfish will give you 9 seconds.

Just to be clear, we’re not suggesting you create financial plans that clients can read in eight seconds. The attention span window is for capturing their interest. They’ll keep reading if you “grab them” with a powerful visual. The colors, content, graphs, charts, and font styles all contribute to making that happen. Plain text and long-winded speeches don’t.

Laying Out Next Steps with RightCapital Blueprint  

This is where we go from commonsense to really cool. RightCapital Blueprint takes visual learning to a new level. Combined with Snapshot, it provides clients with much more than just a simple financial plan. Blueprint breaks down net worth, shows goals in chronological order, and displays individual and joint income, savings, and expenses.

Davis Jankowski at WealthManagement.com describes RightCapital Blueprint as “an interactive and customizable tool for visualizing and organizing a prospect or client’s household financial data.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Ryan Weiser of Weiser Financial Planning compares it to mind-mapping software he’s used before, without the manual updates.

Financial planners do a lot of work to ensure their clients are financially secure in their professional lives and retirement years. That doesn’t mean you need to spend hours explaining that to them. Snapshot and Blueprint were designed to be time-saving visual aids for client communication. You can use them to bring efficiency and scale to your practice.