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The Form Signer

23 May 2024

‘I don’t need advice. I just need you to sign this form…’ 

How many times have you heard this opening gambit from a client?

Normally accompanied by a cheery ‘Don’t worry, this’ll only take 5 minutes’, as they congratulate themselves for making your day a little easier.

And of course, when you look at the form, it’s normally from a provider asking the client to confirm they’ve received advice before doing whatever DIY action they are attempting to perform.

To be fair to the client, it’s not their fault.

They’ve been told by their provider/solicitor/employer that they need to ‘Get a form signed.’

And signing a form takes 30 seconds, right?

That’s why they haven’t even taken their coat off. They genuinely think they’ll be in and out in a few moments and you can both get on with your day.

It doesn’t help that, for a certain generation, getting a form signed by a professional was a common task before the internet. Buying a house or renewing a passport often meant going to a solicitor’s office and having them sign the back of your photograph to verify your identity.

So, here’s your problem…

They want a form signed. You want them to engage in your Financial Planning service so that, once completed, you can sign their form.

Their current engagement level is very low. They haven’t come to you with a Financial Planning mindset prepared to put in the time and effort that’s required.

They’ve come to you for what they feel (or want to be) a 5-minute administrative task.

You’re probably in between the dry cleaning and renewing the car tax at the post office.

You know that to ‘sign their form,’ you’ll need to complete a full Financial Planning process, including financial coaching, policy discovery, cash flow modelling, product and fund analysis, and recommendation suitability reports—several weeks of work.

This contrasts unfavourably with the 5 minutes your client is currently willing to invest in this task.

Even the first meeting is going to be a struggle because your pitch will likely take at least 30-45 minutes to walk through your Financial Planning process, hopefully including a coaching taster session.

So, what to do?

Well, what would your GP do?

If you showed up at your doctors with a DIY prescription and said, ‘Don’t worry Doc, this’ll only take 5 minutes. I don’t need a diagnosis; I just need you to sign this form so I can get some Tramadol’

How far would you get?

Not very….

So, you need to separate the ‘signing of the form’ from the ‘advice process the form is confirming that you’ve undertaken’.

The only way is to show and tell – with the emphasis on the ‘show’.

If the form says, ‘Please sign to say the client has received regulated advice on this transaction’, show them what ‘regulated advice’ looks like.

Have some example fact finds, client reports, financial plans, and suitability reports in your meeting room so you can show and tell.

The sheer thickness of the example reports will soon start to help your client understand that this isn’t a 5-minute job and that you aren’t just trying to hustle them for more fees.

Even with this, you’re unlikely to get an immediate buy-in from your dismayed potential client.


Firstly, it’s not the answer they wanted. They’ll probably want to go elsewhere in the hope that you’re flannelling them and someone else will just sign their form.

Secondly, they’ve only allocated 5 minutes to this task. They aren’t in the right head space to have a proper discussion – and they’ve probably turned up without their partner.

Sometimes, the best course of action is to schedule a proper first meeting a few days later, allowing them time to go through the stages of denial (“You’re wrong!”) and bargaining (“Someone else will do it, I just need to speak to more advisers…“) before reluctantly accepting the need for financial advice.

However, it’s important to differentiate between the client who genuinely didn’t realise they needed advice and the client who knows they need it but doesn’t want to pay for it.

That’s a story for another day. – Software, Training & Business Services for Financial Planners


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