At Twenty Over Ten, we have the opportunity to work with so many amazing financial advisors to help them develop a site they love. We really value our clients and love to hear about how each step of the process went. This week, we were able to talk with Mary Thompson, the founder of ReFrame Financial Planning. Want to hear what she has to say about the web development process? Keep reading to find out!
Tell us a little bit about ReFrame Financial Planning. How did you get your start in the industry, and who do you serve?
Becoming a financial planner was a mid-life career change for me. I worked in the IT field for 15 years before taking a sabbatical so I could stay home with my children. When my youngest child entered kindergarten, I was offered an opportunity to work part-time for a local RIA helping with their client service activities. I found the idea of changing careers and working in the financial advisory space very appealing. This soon led to a full-time advisor position, the completion of my CFP® credentials and a partnership opportunity. After 10 years at that firm, I decided to break out on my own to build a practice focused on helping clients achieve the life they want with the resources, working with them to go beyond just what financial products or decisions they need to make to achieve this goal. I built my practice to help clients who want to rethink the second chapter of their lives by aligning their passion with their purpose. My typical client is in the early 50s to late 70s. They want to create a retirement that balances active engagement, either paid or unpaid and leisure pursuits.
How did you come up with the name “ReFrame Financial Planning,” and what does it mean to your clients?
The name of my company, ReFrame Financial Planning, evolved from the three tenants I choose to build my practice upon. The first is that clients need more than financial advice to create a plan for how to live their best life possible in retirement. Our industry helps people prepare for the financial needs of retirement. However, clients need more than financial advice to build a purposeful retirement. I believe, as advisors, we are in a unique position to help facilitate the conversations necessary to understand what that means to our clients and how they can achieve it. The second is that you should be able to receive competent financial advice without having to delegate the management of your portfolio to your financial advisor. I took many prospect calls at my old firm where the client was looking for financial advice and someone to help them navigate through their retirement transition but didn’t want to delegate investment management or didn’t have sufficient assets outside their 401(k) accounts to meet our firms minimum. The third is building a practice around jargon-free advice. The financial industry is filled with complex topics and products. As advisors, we tend to use technical jargon when explaining complex concepts to our clients. This language may be understandable to us but can often be overwhelming for clients. My goal is to educate my clients using plain English. I want to relate the advice I give to their goals and values in a manner in which they can understand and act upon. Each of these three tenants requires both the advisor and the client to reframe the expectation of what value and services they should receive from an engagement with a financial advisor. “ReFrame Financial Planning” seemed like a perfect fit.
We see that you work with a specific niche of “encore” adults. Tell us a little bit about this niche you serve and how you began to work with this particular audience.
“Encore Adults” or “Encore Adulthood”, which is typically defined as ages 50-75, is an emerging phase in our lives. It is evolving due to increased longevity and improvements in healthy aging that is allowing us to extend our contributions beyond typical retirement age. With the typical retiree facing a 20-30 year retirement period, retirees need to look beyond traditional retirement activities. There is a growing trend for retirees to “unretire” and return to their old careers because they didn’t properly plan for the non-financial realities of retirement. Just like they’ve built a retirement nest egg to meet their financial needs in retirement, retirees need to build a portfolio of activities that will keep them actively engaged and contributing well into retirement. This new way of transitioning into retirement requires more exploration than a financial readiness exercise. The challenge is that most clients don’t know what questions to ask other than the typical financial questions. As advisors, we need to initiate conversations that help our clients design a retirement that meets all their needs. As I began asking non-traditional questions about retirement goals, new opportunities and ideas about retirement began to emerge. The clients became more animated when talking about retirement and a large portion of our meetings would focus on what they were looking forward to getting involved with after they retired.
We love how you’ve incorporated some interactive lead capture elements throughout your website like your Return of Life Index Survey. Tell us a little bit more about why you chose to include a survey like this and how it helped your clients and prospects.
Since a major focus of my practice is to help clients build a purposeful life beyond financial freedom, I looked for non-traditional tools that could help facilitate conversations that would help uncover my clients’ stories – who they are, how did they get where they are, what money scripts may be driving their decisions, what does money really mean to them and what do they want to accomplish with it. I found the Return on Life Advisor group started by Mitch Anthony and Steve Sanduski. Their philosophy resonated very strongly with me. The quote from Mitch “To live our best lives with the resources we have now” summed up what I am trying to build with my clients. The tools they provide, such as “The Return on Life Index”, are designed intentionally as fact-finders into your clients’ lives, values, and purpose.
Your tagline – “Jargon-free financial planning” is so great! How did you come up with this and what does it mean to your clients and prospects?
The Jargon-free financial planning tagline came for discussions with the branding firm I work with. When discussing how I wanted to build my practice there were several reoccurring points. One, I want clients to look forward to our meetings, knowing our meetings can be fun and that they will leave feeling more comfortable with where they are going because they understand how the pieces of their financial puzzle fit together. Second, my job is to meet my clients where they are in their financial knowledge and it is my responsibility to communicate what they need to know in a manner they can understand. Third, eventually, I want all my clients to be comfortable making their own financial decisions because they understand how all the pieces and parts work together but still want to pick up the phone to call me for a second opinion. The phrase “Jargon-free financial planning” incorporates all that and more. You can be the most skilled financial planner and the expert in a certain topic area but if you can’t communicate what you know to the client in terms that they can understand and related it to what is important to them it will be difficult to get them to buy-in to the advice you are giving and act upon it.
If you could pick one favorite feature from your new Twenty Over Ten website, what would it be and why?
The incorporation of my calendar and ability for a prospective client to schedule a meeting. I know this may seem really simple but I believe our most valuable commodity is our time. I love that prospective clients can choose to schedule a meeting when it’s convenient for them instead of having to email back and forth.
When you were building your site, what were some of your biggest challenges? Was anything easier than you anticipated?
I think the biggest challenge with building my website was trying to keep my website simple, clean and easy to understand. There is so much you want to communicate about who you are, what you do and why you are different but you need to balance that with how long a visitor will realistically stay on any given page and how you can convey it in a manner that is easy to follow. I thought it would be difficult to get this done but Melissa made this very easy and created a beautiful site that is clean and simple. I love that the site is fresh, fun and inviting without overwhelming a site visitor with too much information and too much jargon.
Another challenge was finding pictures that represented the clients I want to work with. Most pictures of “retirees” have them engaging in typical retirement scenes – at the beach, eating a meal, relaxing with family, playing golf, etc. I struggled to find pictures that portrayed my target audience actively engaged – either in an educational, professional or community environment. I wanted a balance of both traditional and non-traditional retirement photos. Melissa was very creative and thoughtful about using the placement of both types of photos throughout the site. It helps portray the message that retirement can be more than leisure pursuits.
At Twenty Over Ten, it’s important to us that we’re delivering the best service possible to our clients. Is there anything about the process that you would change?
I think the only thing I really found hard to keep track of was the timeline and who was responsible for what. Although this is explained at the onset, I found it hard to remember what I was supposed to do versus Twenty over Ten. Much of this was new to me and sometimes I had difficulty tying the work being done to the discrete parts of the engagement. Some type of interactive progress report/activity tracker with roles and responsibilities and due dates, what’s included of the engagement, etc. would be great. For example, I couldn’t remember how many “elements” I could have added to my website without having to go back to the original document.
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