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The Principle of Storytelling with Aaron Klein

February 13, 2020

By Jim Cannon, CEO

With all the Oscar buzz this week, I couldn’t help but think about a recent Dynamic Resource Call we had with our advisors that pivoted, among other topics, to the principle of storytelling. Brief background: We hold resource calls monthly, conversing with industry professionals on relevant topics to help advisors grow their businesses.

Our latest call was with Aaron Klein, co-founder and CEO of Riskalyze, a leading FinTech innovator of cloud-based, risk-tolerance software. When we asked Aaron about the company’s explosive growth in recent years, he attributed it to the “great financial advisors who have jumped on to this and taken ownership of it, making Riskalyze a little bit more than just a company.” It’s become what Aaron calls, a “fearless investing movement.”

The way Aaron sees it, the true value of Riskalyze to an advisor is more than just the software, it’s also the process. The team has put a lot of thought into training advisors on how to integrate the technology into their process. This includes teaching advisors how to weave it into telling the story of their firm to clients and prospects.

Aaron himself, an excellent communicator, has a gift for storytelling. On the resource call, he had a profound way of describing how wealth advisors should use a well-documented—though often overlooked—principle of storytelling. Before sharing the principle, Aaron lightheartedly apologized because, “from now on, you all are kind of ruined. You’ll not be able to watch a movie the same way because you’re going to see it and know how the story is put together.”

He went on to tell us that every good story has a hero that is going through some kind of process or challenge. A guide appears in the story to help the hero get to the other side successfully. He illustrated the legendary story of Stars Wars with Luke Skywalker as the hero and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the guide that helps Luke to defeat Darth Vader and save the galaxy.

Aaron reminded us that all great stories have those elements in one form or another.

For a lot of wealth advisors, however, we end up telling the story in a way where the advisor is the hero. And that actually won’t work quite as well, according to Aaron, who prefaced, “despite advisors being really heroic people who do heroic work.”

Instead, he suggests advisors should apply the storytelling principle: “Craft the story you’re telling about your practice with the advisor as the guide. You’re trying to help get the client to the other side of the financial outcome they’re trying to achieve, whether that’s helping their grandkids go to college or changing the world through nonprofit giving or retiring with security and dignity for their family.”

Ultimately, whatever the financial goal, it’s the client who’s the hero.

Aaron and his team are steadfast in their belief that when an advisor puts her/himself in that context, it works. And it’s how Riskalyze strives to match the technology and the process that they teach advisors.

“We help advisors steal a lot of those elements and craft that into how they’re going to hold their client meetings, how they’re going to hold those prospect meetings, because I believe technology is like the campfire around which great advisors tell the story of their firm.”

At Riskalyze, it’s about delivering that level of support to the advisor story to help them be successful. Aaron explained, “A lot of times we think that being a great storyteller and advisor is only about growing the firm. No. It’s like 90 percent of it. Ten percent of it is about growing the firm; 90 percent of it is about actually getting the clients to stick with good decision-making and get to the other side of that.”

Aaron really got us thinking about the whole story of not being the hero, allowing the client to see the opportunity and guiding them through the process. I love that.

Give some thought to your firm’s story. Are you the hero or the guide?


(Photo: Tegan Mierle, Unsplash)