Lesson 9 | The Planning Table

The next concept we want to introduce you to is The Planning Table. This is a tool to help you determine who the important relationships are on the clients planning team and who helps them make financial decisions.

Sitting at the table are the clients. The seats on the side of the table are the Advice seats - people providing advice and guidance and in a regular relationship with the client. There are five core Advice seats that typically influence people making financial decisions and they are tax, legal, financial planning, investments, and insurance. Depending on the sophistication and complexity of some clients, they may already have a team like this in place, and other clients may be looking to build a team like this now or overtime as their situation evolves.

Across the table from the client are the Sales seats. These are people who offer a product or service, but not people that the client relies on for advice on a regular basis. An example might be a banking relationship, a mortgage provider, or even an investment or insurance person that has sold them something in the past but was more of a transactional relationship. These are important relationships, but more transactional as opposed to giving ongoing advice.

In some situations, the client may have someone sitting next to them on their side of the table that they consider to be highly trusted, who is likely bringing more of a discernment style approach to their situation. When the client is making decisions in these key areas of planning, investments, insurance, tax, and legal, that Trusted Advisor is the gatekeeper that all the information goes through. At Legacy, we call this the Most Trusted Advisor and our goal is to help our clients navigate their way into that seat with the right clients.

So as we go through this tool with a prospect or client, we want to determine the names of the advisors at the clients planning table, the specific roles they're helping with, and how they were referred onto the team in the first place. Understanding the relationships among the client’s other advisors is critical to understand how decisions are being made and who is influencing them.

There are a few reasons why The Planning Table is a game changer:

  1. First, It’s a differentiator.

When you're in an approach meeting with a prospective client and in the first interaction you express that you want to know who the key and important relationships are in their lives, that will set you apart from the rest.

  1. Second, It will help you get the lay of the land.

By going through this process, you’ll learn who their other advisors are, who their other key relationships are, if they have someone that is managing money for them, if they have somebody that they've done insurance work with, if somebody is providing comprehensive financial planning, if they have an accountant that they love, and if they have a lawyer that they love. You’ll find out who these people are. And by doing that, you’ll find out if anyone is in your core competency area, so you’ll know if they’re a competitor. It will also be important to see how they view you as part of the planning table as well.

  1. Third, It’ll tell you if there are any vacant seats or gaps at the table.

If there are any gaps, you can bring in one or more of your collaborators from your own network of professionals, and then you’re helping to build the team - this immediately elevates your status and value. If you’re dealing with younger clients with less complexity today, the Planning Table allows you to demonstrate your value for helping them build their team overtime with the right resources. This way your clients will never feel like they have outgrown you.

  1. And Fourth, It will allow you to make your intentions known.

The Planning Table conversation provides an opportunity to open the conversation and tell prospects and clients where it is that you do your best work, where you want to be sitting, and the role you want to play in their lives.

So here’s your Action Task. Take the blank Planning Table tool and put the names of an actual client on one side and ask yourself the following questions. Who is at their planning table? Make a list across the bottom of the page - are there lawyers, CPAs, other insurance, investment planning or banking relationships? Do you know who's at the table? If you don't, there should be some insight in there for you. Next, where does the client view you at the table? Go find out based on how they’ve communicated with you, where you truly believe the client sees you - are you in a sales role? Are they turning to you for real advice? Are they open to you providing discernment when you give feedback about how well the different options will help them meet their desired goals and vision for the future?

Then think about where you want to be sitting at the planning table. Is that spot occupied or is it vacant? Are you ready and equipped for that role? Do you think the client can see you moving to that role over time? If so, what are the things that you can do to help you move there? Knowing how you're viewed in the client's eyes and what seat you occupy at the planning table is critical.

The Planning Table

Planning Table Tool

Planning Table Tool