May 27, 2009

How do you Help Clients who have Trouble Reading?

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex … It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction. 
— Albert Einstein

In the United States, one in seven adults can't read. That's 32 million people — roughly the population of Canada.

In Canada, 40% of adults struggle with low literacy. Among these nine million, 15% face "serious problems dealing with any printed materials". 

We haven't talked about basic math skills or financial literacy yet. 

Financial products and services have an additional burden: they are intangible. You can't gauge a good insurance contract by touch. You can't smell the better annuity. 

You can be sure that you have clients and prospects who do not understand you, whether they admit this or not. 
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. 
—Albert Einstein
Visuals help. Audio recordings help. Video helps. Guess how many videos were viewed online in March 2009 in the US? Would you believe 11.5 billion? That's an increase of 64% over last year. In contrast, online newspaper readership is about 3.5 billion page views per month, an increase of 13% over last year. Even those who can read may prefer the ease of listening or watching. 

How can you make your messages simpler?


May 19, 2009

3-in-1: CALU 2009 / Lousy Books / Tweeting Financial Plans

How time passes. The last post, the 100th, took place three weeks ago. What happened to a post per week, most weeks? Life. In particular:
  • CALU 2009
  • lousy books
  • Twitter
CALU 2009
As usual, CALU was exceptional. Stephen Harper, Jim Flaherty and Michael Ignatieff. Preston Manning spoke. I sent live messages to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I blogged at Riscario Insider. I had my portable scanner, voice recorder, Bluetooth headset and newly-upgraded Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10.

Highlights were
  1. The Honourable Donald Bowman, the former Chief Justice of the Tax Court of Canada. He spoke about interest deductibility, GAAR and 10-8 leveraging. I had the opportunity to speak to him privately for a few minutes.
  2. Two members of the Richardson family (Carolyn the Chairman, and Hartley the President & CEO) on running a family business (now in its 5th generation) and succession planning
  3. Dr. Lance Secretan on the CASTLE Principles
I may write about these sessions in the future from my dozens of pages of notes.

Lousy Books
Most of the books I read or listen to come recommended. Recently, I've been judging books by their titles, covers and authors. This adventure didn't work well. There's lots of fluff out there. I won't mention titles. Luckily, you can learn from the bad: just do the opposite.

Twitter (@mActuary)
Twitter is the easiest way to communicate timely information. I mainly post links to articles that may interest you. Distilling messages down to 140 characters makes your message more potent. More like headlines. More likely to get read and recommended.

Can you summarize your financial plan in 140 characters? Jonathan Chevreau started with his 76,000 word book, Findependence Day, and got whittled down to 126 characters: Lose debt. Join pension. Own home. Spend little. Save tons. Invest wisely. Be tax wise. Marry 4 life. Insure life. Make will.

Impressive! I'm going to create my own summary. Why don't you try too?