How Utilizing Visualizations Can Enhance Shopper Communication

Govt Abstract

Communication is likely one of the most vital expertise for a monetary advisor. Whereas technical experience is critical to formulate a monetary plan, with the ability to clearly talk the findings to a consumer could make all of the distinction between whether or not or not the consumer will perceive and comply with implement the advisor’s suggestions. Many advisors are accustomed to utilizing verbal communication with shoppers (e.g., in consumer conferences) and written communication (e.g., by means of the supply of a written plan), nevertheless, some ideas are troublesome to clarify and perceive by means of these means. However by utilizing visualization aids of their communication, advisors can make clear complicated info and generate higher conversations with shoppers.

In keeping with one studying mannequin, there are 4 fundamental classes of studying kinds: visible, auditory, studying/writing, and kinesthetic. Analysis means that communication and schooling are each more practical when a number of studying kinds are included as a result of a person’s most well-liked studying model typically varies day-to-day. Moreover, presenters who use visualizations can are usually perceived by their viewers as higher ready, extra skilled, and extra fascinating than those that rely solely on text-based displays. Taken collectively, these findings counsel that utilizing visualizations when presenting info to shoppers utilizing different modes (verbally in conferences and thru written plans) could be a good method to reveal experience whereas constructing rapport with the viewers.

When contemplating methods to use visualizations, it is very important acknowledge that totally different kinds of visualizations can be utilized to fulfill totally different communication aims. As an example, visualizations might be categorized based mostly on their content material (conceptual or data-driven) and goal (declarative or exploratory). By contemplating the character of the content material and goal of their message, advisors can select an acceptable model of visualization to implement. For instance, data-driven, declarative concepts might be conveyed by ‘on a regular basis information’ visualizations, similar to a chart or graph objectively illustrating relationships between details and figures (e.g., the S&P 500’s efficiency in the course of the previous 12 months). Alternatively, a conceptual, exploratory thought could be higher conveyed by means of an ‘thought technology’ visualization, similar to an array of concepts that encourage brainstorming concepts. Conceptual, declarative concepts are finest conveyed by means of visualizations that illustrate troublesome ideas, and information pushed, exploratory concepts can typically be conveyed by combining visualizations merged collectively from a number of sources of data to encourage identification of recent tendencies or themes.

Advisors can select to create their very own visualizations (similar to a easy Venn diagram), however may go for turnkey software program options or white-labeled merchandise for extra elaborate visualizations. Whichever possibility an advisor chooses, there are key design rules to bear in mind. For instance, the considerate use of traces, colours, shading, font dimension, and different visible components might help to speak concepts and draw consideration to key features of the visualization.

Finally, the important thing level is that visualizations could be a useful gizmo for bettering advisor communication and consumer comprehension. Given the data-intensive nature of monetary plans, visualizations can function a helpful complement to written and verbal communication from the advisor and may present readability to shoppers, which can provide shoppers extra confidence of their plans and of their advisors!

Michael Lecours

Writer: Michael Lecours, CFP®

Visitor Contributor

Michael Lecours, CFP® is a Co-Founding father of fpPathfinder. fpPathfinder makes checklists and flowcharts to assist advisors be extra diligent within the planning course of for his or her shoppers. Michael can also be a monetary advisor and planner at Ohanesian / Lecours. Michael started his profession in promoting and makes use of that have to distill complicated monetary planning ideas into easy methods for shoppers. He has been featured within the Journal of Monetary Planning.

Relating to communication, monetary advisors usually take one in all two approaches to clarify monetary planning ideas to shoppers and prospects. They are going to both verbally clarify their concepts or write out their factors in an e-mail or report back to share with their consumer. Each might be helpful as strategies of communication, however every comes with its personal particular set of points.

For instance, a consumer who solely hears a suggestion might change into overwhelmed attempting to maintain monitor of the numbers, whereas a consumer who solely reads the advice might get misplaced within the particulars and fail to know the high-level motive that the advisor is recommending the technique. Whereas there are numerous methods to beat miscommunication, there's one specific technique to assist advisors be certain that their shoppers perceive what they should know: incorporating visualizations when speaking with a consumer throughout conferences.

Visualizations Are Efficient Aids In Communication

Visualizations might be an vital instrument to assist advisors talk with their shoppers. Think about the previous adage, “An image is value a thousand phrases”, showing in Printer’s Ink, an promoting commerce journal printed within the Nineteen Twenties, advocating using extra graphics and fewer textual content for ads to be efficient throughout a time when most ads consisted of textual content. To the purpose of this adage, visualizations have typically been used all through historical past to assist clarify complicated concepts, as they provide a singular alternative to obviously convey ideas that may in any other case be notably troublesome to clarify by means of both spoken or written phrase alone.

The explanation visible communication might be so efficient offers with the way it pertains to totally different studying kinds. In keeping with the VARK studying mannequin, developed by Neil Fleming to assist folks perceive the strategy of studying that works most successfully for themselves, there are 4 fundamental classes of studying kinds: visible, auditory, studying/writing, and kinesthetic. Whereas Fleming argued that folks had a most well-liked studying model, additional analysis has urged that more practical communication and schooling happen when a number of studying kinds are included as a result of somebody’s most well-liked studying model truly can differ day-to-day.

Vark Model of Learning Styles Mike Lecours Visualizations

Within the classroom, lecturers typically try to teach college students utilizing strategies that handle quite a lot of studying kinds as a result of folks have other ways of taking in info most successfully and thus have a choice for the way they study finest. A 2011 examine by Iranian researcher Abbas Pourhossein Gilakjani discovered that the scholars within the examine usually most well-liked to make use of visible studying kinds over auditory or kinesthetic studying kinds.

The important thing level, although, is to acknowledge that conveying info solely in a single specific model – e.g., all the time sending every part as a written e-mail, or all the time explaining verbally – might not be match at the very least a few of the time for some shoppers (and doubtlessly not match all of the time for sure shoppers which will have a robust choice for an additional studying model). For which using the visible model – in any other case much less typically utilized by monetary advisors – creates the chance to increase communication.

Visualization Can Help Consideration, Settlement, And Retention

To look at studying kinds in a enterprise setting, a examine by Swiss researchers Sebastian Kernbach and Martin Eppler was carried out in 2010 to see if visualizations did a greater job speaking a proposed enterprise technique than textual content. The authors offered a enterprise technique to review contributors utilizing one in all three codecs: a text-based bullet listing, a visible metaphor (which makes use of a graphically structured structure utilizing a metaphor to symbolize new concepts utilizing ideas from an already mastered topic space), and a temporal roadmap diagram (designed to visually spotlight the chronological capabilities and relationships within the technique).

Text Based and Visual Presentation Formats Mike Lecours Visualizations

Their outcomes urged that the visible codecs (vis-à-vis the visible metaphor and temporal roadmap displays) have been “considerably higher than textual content by way of the achieved consideration, settlement, and retention.” This additional means that visualizations are an vital ingredient within the communication technique.

One shocking revelation from Kernbach and Eppler’s analysis was that presenters utilizing visualizations have been perceived to be higher (extra ready, extra skilled, extra clear, extra persuasive, extra fascinating, or a mixture of those attributes) than presenters who used textual content. This means that advisors who incorporate extra visualizations into their communication might merely be higher favored by a consumer or prospect. And if the advisor is healthier favored, the consumer could also be extra doubtless to stick with the advisor or to behave upon the recommendation that's offered.

The Course of Of Visible Pondering

Dan Roam, the writer of The Again of The Serviette, has laid out 4 steps of visible pondering that apply to folks when truly a visible:

The Step Visual Thinking Process Mike Lecours Visualizations

Step 1 – Trying. Step one of visible pondering entails truly wanting on the visible. For this step, people are accumulating and screening the visible. They could be wanting on the complete visible to know what's attempting to be communicated, or they might be in search of one thing acquainted or one thing they acknowledge (and will even see components which might be complicated). In essence, a person merely begins by getting their bearings with the visible.

Step 2 – Seeing. The second step entails a extra thorough inspection of the knowledge and entails choosing areas of the visible to deal with. Maybe the particular person begins in search of patterns or observing the place patterns don’t exist. At this step, components of the visible might begin to stand out for additional inspection.

Step 3 – Imagining. On this step, an individual begins to suppose critically about what they've seen. Maybe they might be questioning in regards to the ramifications of what they see within the visible. Or, maybe there's a want for extra info to additional perceive the visible. At this stage, they're pondering critically in regards to the visible and what it might be speaking.

Step 4 – Exhibiting. The ultimate step within the course of is with the ability to present the visible to another person and assist talk it to them. This step is about making the visible extra clear. Maybe there are key factors, tendencies, or observations to share.

In apply, when contemplating visible content material to make use of with shoppers, advisors might undergo these 4 steps. Maybe they Look, See, and Think about a consumer’s efficiency report earlier than Exhibiting it to them throughout a gathering presentation. On this case, advisors are serving to the consumer undergo the primary three steps of their very own technique of visible pondering extra simply.

The Type Of A Visualization Can Be Categorized Primarily based On Its Content material And Function

Not all visualizations are the identical. Completely different kinds of visualizations needs to be used to help in several communications aims. In his 2016 Harvard Enterprise Overview article, “Visualizations that Actually Work”, Scott Berinato gives a framework that characterizes visualizations by asking two questions:

  • Is the knowledge within the visualization conceptual or data-driven?; and
  • Is the aim of the visualization to declare one thing or to discover one thing?

The primary query addresses the content material of visualizations and whether or not they're used to explain qualitative info (like an idea or technique) or quantitative info (similar to information, info, or statistics), whereas the second query addresses the goal of visualizations and whether or not they are often organized as declarative (to make a degree or an announcement) or exploratory (to elicit suggestions on a brand new development or to brainstorm concepts).

Relying on the solutions to those questions addressing each content material and goal, a visualization can match into one in all 4 classes, as illustrated within the graphic beneath.

The Four Types of Data Visualization Mike Lecours Visualizations

Every of those 4 common classes identifies how the model of visualization fulfills a singular goal of communication, as mentioned beneath.

Thought Illustration: Conceptual – Declarative

On this case, the visible helps to speak a identified idea. If a consumer known as involved a couple of market correction and expressed a need to promote their shares, an advisor might start by speaking about why they need to keep invested. To strengthen the argument, the advisor might comply with up with an e-mail to summarize the dialog and embody a visible.

Carl Richards is a pacesetter on this discipline with lots of of straightforward sketches to clarify complicated ideas (together with one that may realign a consumer’s deal with the vital issues which might be inside their management). On this case, the visible can ship a robust message that may be misplaced in written or spoken communication. In different phrases, the visible is used to “promote” an idea or technique.

Idea Illustration Communicating Known Concepts Mike Lecours Visualizations

Thought Era: Conceptual – Exploratory

In comparison with Thought Illustration, the Thought Era visualization is a helpful support within the brainstorming course of. For instance, an advisor can use thought technology visuals to uncover one thing new that they don’t already know and that the consumer might have by no means considered earlier than, similar to by serving to shoppers or prospects take into consideration their future and priorities to establish the objectives they need to handle of their monetary plans.

Idea Generation Discovering New Information Mike Lecours Visualizations

On a regular basis Information Visualization: Information-Pushed – Declarative

When most advisors take into consideration visualizations, they consider data-driven charts and graphs displaying account valuations or internet value over time, which regularly include bar charts and graphs that report on 1 to 2 varieties of information (time and account values are usually the most typical). These visualizations might help to set the context for extra significant conversations and for reporting functions. Utilizing charts might help shoppers shortly and simply put key numbers in perspective relative to earlier years. If a consumer appears at an announcement and sees that their accounts are down a complete of $10,000, it might evoke concern. But when there's a chart that reveals that, during the last three years, their accounts have appreciated greater than $250,000, it will possibly assist to place that $10,000 decline into perspective.

Under is a quite simple chart of a well-liked funding – an S&P 500 ETF – displaying the date on one axis and the worth on the opposite axis. The info reveals how the worth of the ETF has modified during the last 12 months. It’s reporting on a development and making a declarative assertion about how the ETF has carried out.

Everyday Data Visualization Providing Context for Additional Discussion Mike Lecours Visualizations

Visible Discovery Of Information: Information-Pushed – Exploratory

That is typically the class the place many alternative sources of information are mixed into one visualization to establish new tendencies or themes. There could also be some trial and error concerned because the parameters of the visualization are modified to see if higher tendencies or insights might be garnered.

For instance, the chart beneath illustrates the identical inventory proven within the “On a regular basis Information Visualization” graphic above, however now it consists of a number of totally different information factors. A few of the modifications embody using shade, development traces, buying and selling quantity exercise, and the kind of traces used (e.g., candlesticks).

Together, these additions create a special perspective from the earlier chart. Whereas the earlier chart reported on just one facet of the information, this chart consists of extra information concerns to encourage the invention of insights and tendencies.

Visual Discovery of Data Identifying Trends and Themes Mike Lecours Visualizations             

Turning Concepts Into Visualizations

Understanding the advantages that visualizations can provide to enhance communication efforts is step one for advisors to absorb designing an efficient visible; the subsequent step is to establish which model of visualization will work finest to speak info to shoppers. Fortunately, there are instruments and sources out there to assist create efficient visualizations.

Typically, there are two choices for advisors to contemplate: Creating the visualizations themselves or contemplating one of many many turnkey choices for assist. For many who determine to construct their very own, there are programs that may assist train methods to make efficient visualizations. Harvard gives a course on information visualization that focuses on serving to professionals higher current information and knowledge (with no necessities for a particular software program or programming expertise).

Particular visualization classes might be created both by the advisor themselves or by means of using turnkey choices.

Thought Illustration (Utilizing Visualizations To Clarify Advanced Ideas)

Creating Visualizations Your self: Advisors can create visualizations on their very own with many alternative instruments. Visualizations don’t must be sophisticated – Carl Richards used a Sharpie marker to sketch out his ideas. Microsoft Phrase and lots of different purposes provide easy instruments and templates to place collectively visualizations similar to course of maps and pyramid charts.

Categories of Microsoft Words SmartArt Illustration Tool Features Mike Lecours Visualizations

Advisors may use software program applications to create graphics that look extra skilled. Canva is a well-liked design utility that can can help you create all types of graphics. And the perfect half is that it is extremely straightforward to make use of.

Napkin Finance Book CoverAdvisors who can create the idea, however don’t have the will or means to truly design it themselves, can outsource designers to assist carry their idea to life. For instance, Fiverr, Upwork, and 99designs can join advisors to quite a lot of totally different designers. Writer Tina Hay developed sufficient visuals to assist her create a ebook entitled Serviette Finance: Construct Your Wealth in 30 Seconds or Much less. You may learn her story and see a number of examples of her work at

Turnkey Choices: Advisors preferring to not create graphics themselves have loads of turnkey choices to contemplate, relying on their communication aims. The turnkey choices usually present advisors with the visible and provides them the chance to then white-label it to their firm/model.

As an example, comparable in model to Conduct Hole’s graphics, MoneyVisuals gives a large library of graphics to assist support in explaining troublesome ideas. MoneyVisuals takes it a step additional, although, by writing client-facing memos that may accompany the visible, which the advisor has the choice to share with their shoppers.

Money Visuals Mike Lecours Visualizations

One other instance is fpPathfinder, which creates flowcharts to assist clarify monetary planning ideas like their 2022 model of “Can I Make A Deductible IRA Contribution?”. The flowcharts might help illustrate the foundations related to sure planning methods or assist visualize the important thing decisions a consumer should contemplate earlier than making a call.

fpPatherfinder Can I Make A Deductible IRA Contribution Mike Lecours Visualizations

Thought Era (Brainstorming Periods)

Creating Visualizations Your self: Thought Era visualizations might help advisors establish new concepts or lead higher brainstorming periods in consumer conferences. For instance, utilizing a whiteboard or iPad (or every other medium handy for the advisor and consumer) to create thoughts maps might help shoppers seize objectives and talk their aspirations or just assist them categorize their belongings.

Turnkey Choices: MindMeister is an utility that may assist with thoughts mapping. Thoughts mapping workout routines are an ideal instance of how an advisor might incorporate a visible element into a gathering presentation with a brand new consumer or prospect to assist establish and focus on their monetary objectives.

No matter whether or not advisors use a instrument to facilitate brainstorming or select to do it themselves, they might discover it useful to see how different advisors have included brainstorming into their processes. For instance, Sten Morgan incorporates whiteboard periods into a few of his conferences to assist the consumer or prospect perceive a few of the planning choices to contemplate.

Creating Visualizations Your self: On a regular basis Information visualizations are the true area of Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Advisors who need to create their very own visuals can use these two purposes for his or her flexibility in creating all kinds of various charts and graphs to clarify information.

Turnkey Choices: Most monetary planning and efficiency reporting software program covers this sort of On a regular basis Information visualization. They typically embody the aptitude to create charts displaying the change in a consumer’s internet value or efficiency of particular investments.

One-page monetary plans may fall into this class, as they supply a concise method to seize a variety of helpful info on one web page. A number of one-page choices assist report on tendencies for shoppers, together with One Web page Monetary Plan, Stunning Monetary Plan, and Proper Capital’s Snapshot.

Fident One Page Financial Plan Mike Lecours Visualizations

Clearnomics gives white-labeled chartbooks illustrating market and financial charts. Included are observations that accompany every chart to assist clarify vital tendencies and to place the chart into perspective.

These graphics might be discovered elsewhere, however this can be a highly effective instrument to make use of as a result of the white-labeled visuals might be personalized to match the advisor’s model.

Clearnomics Total Returns and Pullbacks Mike Lecours Visualizations

Visible Discovery (Uncovering New Insights By Trying At Visualizations)

Creating Visualizations Your self: As soon as advisors have information, there are a plethora of instruments out there to assist them create refined visualizations. Harvard Enterprise College has compiled a listing of a number of high instruments that enterprise professionals can use, starting from Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets (which permits the consumer to add reside monetary information like inventory costs to visualizations) to stylish charts developed by Tableau (which has particular options to assist the Wealth Administration business collect insights into sophisticated buying and selling methods and inventory screening) and Datawrapper (which is a free web site that can convert consumer information right into a personalized, polished graphic format and supply embed codes for the completed graphic).

One other format to contemplate is a Sankey diagram, a kind of visualization that depicts processes by indicating charges or frequencies with the sizes of chart components. An fascinating instance of a Sankey diagram that advisors have created illustrates the consumer’s earnings and bills. Mike Zung of Java Wealth Planning has included a model of this right into a deliverable he offers to his consumer and was featured within the Kitces Monetary Planning Worth Summit of 2021.

Cash Flow Estimate Baseline and Mike Lecours Visualizations

Turnkey Choices: Making an attempt to supply clear information can generally be an excessive amount of of an impediment for advisors to deal with. When that is the case, there are many choices to contemplate that may assist them uncover new concepts for shoppers.

Mike Zung has just lately developed a sequence of templates that permit advisors to create their very own one-page monetary plan. One of many modules permits for the creation of a Sankey diagram that outlines cashflows. He has additionally turned this right into a module out there in Stunning Monetary Plan.

Funding-oriented choices embody Fund Visualizer and Morningstar Advisor Workstation, which can be utilized to determine new insights for a client-specific portfolio that may in any other case be troublesome to see if wanting solely on the information or simply seeing the numbers. The intention of those sorts of stories is to uncover new observations, tendencies, or insights that in any other case could also be missed.

For instance, Morningstar Workplace’s Portfolio Snapshot offers a Threat Evaluation chart that shortly reveals the danger/return profile for particular person investments, the portfolio as an entire, and the benchmark. This will uncover observations for the advisor that they'd not have seen in any other case.

Morningstar Risk Analysis Mike Lecours Visualizations

Visible Capitalist gives visualizations with a broader market and financial perspective in a singular means. For instance, contemplate its illustration of the State Of The World’s Debt. Merely this instance invitations inquiry in a means that different charts might not present.

State of the Worlds Debt Mike Lecours Visualizations

Investments Illustrated gives an enticing account of US and worldwide markets in an enormous chart that examines varied features of market historical past.

The Big Picture Mike Lecours Visualizations

Whereas a chart illustrating a typical stability sheet or assertion of money stream is ubiquitous, monetary planning software program firm Asset-Map introduces a singular perspective by using a Gestalt-style visualization that presents the identical form of info in a means that's extra intuitive and extra digestible for the consumer.

In an earlier article, Derek Tharpe means that the one-page format of a consumer’s Asset-Map helps “advisors draw out patterns and formulate holistic perceptions which might be related to the consumer’s broader environmental contexts.” Merely presenting the identical form of info in a singular means can lead to new insights that may in any other case be misplaced.

Asset Maps Holistic One Page Client Reporting Format

One of many key aims of Visible Discovery is to current info in new methods to encourage the identification of recent tendencies or observations beforehand unrealized. Whereas many examples listed on this part could also be used initially with shoppers to discover Visible Discovery, these similar approaches might change into extra helpful as On a regular basis Information Visualization instruments over time as shoppers change into acquainted with them. It's because the function of visuals which might be used with shoppers regularly (e.g., Asset-Map stories or Sankey diagrams) are usually much less about visible discovery (because the visible now not presents them with novel info that promotes new concepts) and, as a substitute, change into extra about reporting on present tendencies.

Design Ideas Of Efficient Visualizations

For the visuals which might be developed to make a degree (i.e., Thought Illustrations and On a regular basis Information Visualizations), following sure design rules will assist to make sure concepts are communicated clearly. One of the vital vital features that units a well-designed visualization aside from one that's poorly designed is how the general context of the communication is considered. Strains, colours, shading, font dimension, and varied different components needs to be utilized to assist talk the thought and draw consideration to the important thing features of the visible to help in communication.

Good Charts Book CoverScott Berinato has authored a ebook on this very topic entitled Good Charts: The HBR Information to Making Smarter, Extra Persuasive Information Visualizations, and has additionally offered two wonderful webinars on the subject: The Proper Stuff: Chart Sorts and Visualization Greatest (and Worst) Practices and Higher Charts in a Couple of Hours: Sketching to Win. These are all sources that may assist advisors perceive vital rules about utilizing visuals to create efficient displays.

UX Collective additionally gives a number of design-related gadgets to contemplate when designing a chart. A couple of of probably the most related examples embody:

  • Use a well-recognized chart sort. For those who use a fancy or uncommon chart sort, it might be distracting for the consumer.
  • Add not more than 5 slices to a pie chart. It turns into too cluttered to incorporate greater than 5 slices. If that isn't doable, contemplate a special chart sort.
  • Don’t use randomly generated colours. Take care to pick out colours which might be distinct from one another. Be conscious that inexperienced is commonly used to symbolize one thing constructive, and pink typically represents one thing adverse. Which implies that displaying a adverse quantity in a inexperienced font could also be complicated!
  • Development traces might be distracting. Earlier than including a development line to a chart, see if the story might be advised with out including the development line.
  • Embrace a legend solely when it's truly wanted. In some circumstances, the knowledge ordinarily present in a legend might be included into the title of the chart.

Under is a abstract of a few of the instruments and sources recognized earlier:

Visualization Tools Resources and Turnkey Solutions Mike Lecours Visualizations

Finally, the important thing level is that visualization performs an vital function in communication. Whereas it doesn’t essentially exchange an precise dialog with a consumer, it does present an exquisite complement to a gathering or e-mail. Not solely can visualizations assist to convey an idea extra clearly, however, as analysis has urged, they will additionally lead shoppers to understand their advisor extra favorably.

For monetary advisors, the business lends itself very effectively to using visualizations. There may be an awesome quantity of vital but complicated info (from funding to tax-related information) that have to be communicated to shoppers. Thankfully, there are many instruments and sources out there for advisors to develop nice visuals, whether or not they choose doing it themselves or discovering turnkey options. And by strategically utilizing visuals, advisors can attain their communication objectives, offering readability for his or her shoppers and serving to them perceive their monetary plans to make the fitting selections!

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