The article below is an excerpt of a full article that can be found at Michael's blog.
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.
However, the mind mapping tool doesn't have to be used in a purely business context. It can also be effective as a way to complete the data gathering process in a financial planning context. For instance, imagine the template below on a large monitor in your conference room, visible to both the planner and the (new) client. Ultimately, the branches below simply represent areas in which the planner might ask typical discovery questions, from technical areas like tax and investments to more personal questions around communication issues, the family's estate plan, or their goals for family education.
A key aspect for the value of mind mapping in financial planning...Read the full article, including information on how to get training for Financial Planners at http://www.kitces.com/blog/Using-Mind-Mapping-To-Get-Paid-For-Financial-Planning-Shadow-Work/