Pilot or No Pilot – Which Option Would You Choose?

Financial advisers are in a prime place to hear, and tell, the stories of how good advice and insurance cover have provided great outcomes for clients.
However, as Rachel Staggs from SRSCC writes, telling good stories takes practice to get right even for experienced advisers.
Yet the benefits of showing clients the value of insurance and advice, through relatable stories, will resonate better than a good fact find and technical expertise.

Imagine you have arrived at the airport to catch a flight home. You are presented with two options. The first option is to take a flight that is operated by an experienced and qualified pilot who is being paid to fly the plane. The second option has no pilot, in fact, you have to fly it yourself. If you choose option two, a computer will be installed with access to the Internet to teach you all you need to know about flying.

Which option would you take? Option one, naturally.

What you are paying for with option one, the piloted plane is the experience and the qualifications. You’re paying for someone who knows how to keep you safe, save time and get you to your destination.

This is why people will pay for and take advice from a financial adviser. People can find the facts on the Internet, but they don’t understand what they mean or how to use them to their advantage.

How do you communicate this to a client? There are many ways, but with most powerful it is through emotion, through sharing stories about other people, just like them, that did take advice and those that unfortunately never see an adviser and don’t protect their family, income and business.

Emotional storytelling, sharing the human side, is quite simply one of the key ways to influence a client to listen and take advice. If every adviser were properly trained to read the body language of their clients [eyes, facial movement, posture, breathing rhythm], they would realise that jargon and facts trigger a particular emotion.  Usually, clients won’t state this reaction unless they are specifically asked, “How do you feel about that?” Do you ask that question?

Most people nowadays ask, “How’s business?” Take that golden opportunity and tell them, through emotional storytelling, rather than saying, “Good, all’s good and you?”

Much has been written before about the power of storytelling and how to do it. As a reminder to you, I have shared a simple formula below that you can use.

The formula for a good story:

  • A story is a fact
  • Wrapped in an emotion
  • That compels us to take action
  • That transforms us in some way

The key here is that a good story compels people to take action.

A simple exercise you can do either on your own or as a team is to craft your story (make it a real story but with names removed) and then share it with as many people as you can through the week. Always keep your stories fresh. A boring story can have the reverse effect of what you intended! That is an important aspect of storytelling.

7 Ways to share stories; the human side of your business:

  1. On the website
  2. Through social media
  3. When meeting with your referral partners
  4. When you meet a client
  5. Networking
  6. Socialising
  7. On your marketing collateral

Sharing stories and being able to ‘read’ your clients is a skill and does take the time to master but when you do, you’ll see the positive difference you are having with your business.

Every time you see a referral partner share a story about how you have helped someone either by working with them to find them the right cover or, through a claim that has been made. Most people nowadays ask, “How’s business?” Take that golden opportunity and tell them, through emotional storytelling, rather than saying, “Good, all’s good and you?” At first, you might feel awkward, and that’s OK but keep mastering this skill and you’ll see a positive change.


In her regular Practice Marketing column, Rachel Staggs provides insights to help advisers market their business to potential (and existing) clients.

Rachel Staggs is the founder and Managing Director of SRSCC, a specialist financial services consulting firm.

Contact or follow the author: Website | Email | Google + | LinkedIn | Twitter

  • Jeremy Wright

    Rachel, you are 100% correct that stories resonate well with clients and can help guide them about making a decision to take the next step along the winding road, that eventually leads them to commencing their Life Insurance journey, right through to the completion of all the requirements.

    However, there is a major difference between a future positive outcome that advice pertaining to Investing and buying a home, creates in a persons mind, which also creates a willingness to listen to and agree to paying an advice fee, proportionate to a clients excitement and satisfaction that comes from making, or being seen to make money from this activity.

    Please do not fall into the trap of believing, or attempting to convince all who will listen, that Australians are happy to pay a fee that even covers a small fraction of what it costs practices to provide Life Insurance advice and then do the expensive and time consuming part, which is the implementation of the Life Insurance products.

    People do buy and make most of their purchasing decisions, based on their emotions and what is considered the norm and all risk advisers who work in this space, will tell you, based on their research, which by the way, is the only accurate research, which is, having actually asked the people who will pay these magic fees, what are they willing to pay?

    The overwhelming response is either NIL, or a fee that does not warrant the time and effort required to produce the invoice, let alone to cover the REAL COST OF US PROVIDING ADVICE.