Ep 006

Using Visual Models to Simplify the Complexity of Finance


Simon Bowen

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Inside This Episode

As a financial advisor, your clients don’t choose you because they want an average future; they choose you because they want to win the game of life. 

The problem isn’t that you don’t know how to build a plan that will get them there.  

The problem is that you have to convince them that you are the person who can help them do it.  

So, how do you communicate to prospects that you’re the right person for the job?  

Today’s guest, Simon Bowen, is here to help you with that answer.  

Simon is Australia’s #1 authority on visual based thinking. In other words, he’s a master at using drawings to simplify complex ideas and information.  

Through his proprietary process, The Models Method, he has helped Fortune 500 companies, heads of Government, the military, industry leaders, and countless organizations, to accelerate performance.  

Whether it’s to convert more clients, distill complex topics into easy to communicate language for your team, or create higher levels of ownership across your organization so you can effectively scale, Simon’s visual models can help you get there.  

3 of the biggest insights from Simon Bowen

  • #1 The “compete & retreat” sales talk that’s pushing your prospects away—and what to do instead to create a collaborative communication experience that builds value and trust. 

  • #2 Powerful whiteboarding techniques you can use during meetings, to simplify complex concepts and help your clients visualize a path to success.  

  • #3 Why you can’t build a scalable or sellable business that relies on your sweat equity—and how to instead distill your genius into replicable frameworks that your team can easily model.  


  • 00:00 Simon briefly explains what he does and how he uses drawings to simplify complex ideas for business owners.  
  • 05:36 Understanding the psychological connection that humans have to drawings   
  • 06:42 Why your prospects are hardwired to push back when you pitch them your ideas for how to build their future—and what to do instead.   
  • 15:21 The one sales move financial advisors can use to immediately shift the client relationship  
  • 30:12 Simple, yet highly effective whiteboarding techniques to help your clients understand complex financial concepts.  
  • 40:17 The 4 components to creating compelling visual models that make your clients feel safe, understood, and confident about choosing YOU as their financial advisor 
  • 46:36 Why you can’t build a scalable or sellable business that relies on your sweat equity—and how to create replicable frameworks that others can follow.  
  • 1:00:00 The one thing Simon believes needs to change when it comes to the world of financial advising.  




  • Simplification is the greatest form of sophistication that there actually is.Simon Bowen 

  • 83% of the information that humans bring into their mind from the world around them comes through the optic nerve.” – Simon Bowen 

  • The human brain is a meaning-making machine and it needs to take pieces of something and put them together to make sense of things. And when we give people structured access, they go, “I get it and this is believable.Simon Bowen  

  • People don’t behave inherently safely but people want someone or something else to make them safe.Simon Bowen 

  • You can’t really guarantee the future. But if you’re a good financial planner, you should be able to guarantee the pathway to the future.Simon Bowen 

Brad Johnson: Simon Bowen, welcome to Financial Advisor Evolution. Glad to have another conversation with you. 


Simon Bowen: Yeah. Good to be speaking again, from the other side of the world. 


Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, hey, we did get a chance to hang out briefly this summer when you were in town, so that was good in South Carolina. So, it was actually nice these days to break bread in person versus just assume conversations. So, back to Zoom. Here we are again. 


Simon Bowen: Absolutely. 


Brad Johnson: Well, I’m going to cue this up, and then I know we have a short amount of time so we’re going to dive right in. So, for those of you advisors out there that are unfamiliar with Simon, I’ll just put it out on the line, stake my reputation on it. There’s not anybody I’ve ever met that can basically visually represent your value proposition better than Simon. That’s what he does full-time. Models Method is his company and here today he’s going to kind of show and tell some frameworks, some psychology behind explaining what it is you do as a financial advisor and how you add value. Simon, is there anything else, just for context for the listeners? Maybe this is their first time that would be helpful for them to know on your side.


Simon Bowen: Yeah, sure. You know, we focus in on people that have a complex sale to make. And I became kind of obsessed with the idea of in how we communicate complexity when the customer is hiding stuff from you. So, it makes their side complex because there’s stuff they’re not telling you, right? And I know that all financial planners just deal with that situation, right? They may be not set up as well as they should be or they’re not really in the position that they’d like people to think they are, etcetera, etcetera. And then the other side of the complex sale is when there’s dimensions of what you do, including just your intuitive genius, you know, time served in the trenches experience that makes it happen for them but you never actually explain it as a part of the delivery. You just go, “I think we should do this but you never explain why you should do that.” And so, if you don’t explain why the customer doesn’t understand that is value. So, you’ve got those two complexities, the complexity of what you do, the complexity of what the customer is hiding from you, and then the overlap you’ve got this complex sale and you know that demands a premium price, and yet people want to buy at lowest price.


And so, I’ll be kind of obsessed with this idea of how do we represent that complex sale simply because simplification is the greatest form of sophistication that there actually is. And so, how do we represent that simply? And drawing, you know, became the obvious thing. I grew up in the country like in a really small town country and then 900 people in town and 400 people in town and farmers basically. And, you know, when you got your car license and they said, “You need to get to so-and-so’s farm.” “How do you get there?” They would grab a bit of paper and draw a really bad map but that’s what you followed. You know, like the intermediary in any kind of complex conversation is usually, “Hey, let me show you,” and people draw something, you know. So, that was the start, I guess, of me starting to think about how do we draw. Because when we draw, we draw people in. It just happens. Particularly you start drawing by hand, you know, and you’re not using PowerPoint and things like that, people just get drawn into what you’re actually doing. You’re both standing side by side over the iPad or the paper. And so, it became a language that we created. And Ryan Deiss, who is DigitalMarketer, at one of the conferences I was speaking after him, I spoke about how we’ve created a new vocabulary for business. I think it is. It’s a different language and a very, very powerful one. So, hopefully, what we’re going to give people over the next little while is a different reframing to how you could communicate with people and sell to people. So, let’s do that. 


Brad Johnson: Yeah. Let’s go. So, by the way, finances you know, all of the I think this is without exception, every advisor I’ve ever met that has reached a level of success in finance, has some version of a whiteboard presentation framework, something where they take the complex world of finance and really try to simplify it. And I think the other thing that I was thinking as you were sharing what you do, it’s also this co-creation is the magic of a great framework because you’re there combining and having a conversation and like bringing something together right there in front of them. 


Simon Bowen: Yeah. Well… 


Brad Johnson: Do you think that’s a piece of the magic as well? 


Simon Bowen: Oh, absolutely. I can draw it for you, of course. 


Brad Johnson: Well, great. Here we go. 


Simon Bowen: Let me just share my screen for a moment and let me draw it for you. I’ll just… 


Brad Johnson: By the way, Simon’s pulling this up, if you’re listening on audio only, this is the episode to go out to YouTube. Go to the page that will be linked in the show notes here and make sure you watch the video version because you are going to miss, what, 83% of the context, Simon? Is that the statistic if they’re just listening? 


Simon Bowen: So, 83% of the information that humans bring into their mind from the world around them comes through the optic nerve. So, if you just use the auditory channel, telephone and speaking, you’re only operating through 11% of the bandwidth that we use. You know, 2% is taste, 1% is smell but licking and sniffing are not useful selling strategies anyway. And then the rest is kinesthetic touch and feel but so many people in sales use audio only, gift of the gab, voice, phone, written text, and it’s only 11% of the bandwidth. 83% is through the optic nerve. Why would we not use that? And so, it’s no accident that the top advisors are using whiteboards and stuff. The other thing is the first thing any of us did on paper was as little children, we did really bad drawings of mum and dad and family and stuff like that, and we got enormous emotional reward for those drawings that were treated like they were masterpieces. And so, there’s this really deep emotional connection to drawing as humans have. The oldest form of language on the planet is cave art. You know, we drew before we could write. And so, there’s this deep, deep psychological connection to drawings. But when you have two people in a complex conversation and that’s how we got you, the advisor, on one side, you had your truth. Your truth is we need to manage these five worlds and we’ve got to do things in these five worlds to make sure they’re squared away.


And the customer on the other side over here who isn’t in an ideal spot right now and if they were, they wouldn’t be talking to you. So, there’s something going on for them, right? And they have their truth. And their truth, they didn’t care about the five worlds. They’re interested in their one world, which is actually all about them and the future, their future world. Because the only reason someone would be speaking to an advisor was because they’re worried about their future world. There might be five dimensions or five storylines in that future world but they’re worried about their future world. So, they have their truth and what we tend to do in verbal-only kind of communication is we push our story towards the other person. Here’s what you got to do. You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to do that. We’ve got these five worlds. But if five worlds is really just an advisor’s way of trying to frame this thing so that people can understand it, I’ve never heard any client of financial planning talk about five worlds until an advisor gives them that language, right? They’re just interested in, “What’s my future look like?” That’s the only world. “Will I have enough money in retirement?” Right? “Is my family going to be protected? And what if I get sick or infirmed?” It’s all one thing, which is the future.


But when we push something towards somebody, we are all hardwired to push back. It’s how the human being survives the world. And so, there’s this kind of almost conflict. I call it a compete and retreat conversation. We’re competing for perspective and we’re pushing and retreating from that conversation. That’s the typical sales dialog that’s going on. But what we do in order to manage conflict or difference in perspective and things like that is we put an umpire between the two. So, every couple with children understands this to be true because they’re usually the umpire when two of their kids are in this compete and retreat tussle, right? But when there’s conflict, we usually put a mediator in play. And so, the mediator goes to, in every conversation, there’s a weaker party and the weaker party is the one that has less information and has a higher emotional investment. So, the person with the least emotional investment in a relationship is in control. And in this case, the client has the higher emotional investment because they’re worried about their future but they don’t have all the information. So, a good mediator will go to the weaker party and ask them what’s going on for them. And then the weaker party might share some of the things they’re concerned about.


And then a good mediator will go to the party with the information and a stronger position and they’ll inform them or give them some intel on what the other person is concerned about and thinking about. And then the stronger party can share some insights and go, “Well, how about this?” And then the mediator can share that but a good mediator will share by asking more questions and getting them to think more expansively and so the mediator allows us to gather more intel and share more insights. And when we do that, we elevate the conversation. When we elevate the conversation, we elevate the value that goes with the conversation. And this is called the Coaching Triad. Every coach, every psychologist, every counselor understands the triad, right? Well, I discovered… 


Brad Johnson: We like triads around here, Simon, so you’re good. 


Simon Bowen: Say what? 


Brad Johnson: We like triads around here so you’re perfect. You’re right on point. 


Simon Bowen: It’s a great name, right? It’s the Coaching Triad, right? And so, what you get is this interesting mix of it can help discovery on this side and help selling or influencing on the other side. But it can’t take a mediator into a sales conversation with you. And so, what I discovered was that if we put a model between two people, the model becomes the mediator. And now, the person who’s leading the conversation, this person is actually using the model to ask the questions and the customer shares back into the model and says, “Well, what about that bit there?” And now we’ve got some intel that says, “Oh, you’re interested in this specific piece. That’s good to know. Here are some insights around that specific piece. Here are three things that you need to have to make that work.” “Well, what about that little piece there? How does that work?” “Oh, interesting intel. Here are two things that we do to protect you in there.” And so, the model becomes the mediator, the value increases. And now instead of being in a compete and retreat push-pull conversation where side by side, working on the model, standing at the whiteboard together, the physical dynamic of the conversations change. We’re now side by side working on something between us.


And the thing we’re working on is a natural mediator because we’re drawing their future for them. And when people can visualize their future, everything changes. If we’re just speaking their future for them, that’s our story of the five worlds that we’re sharing with them as opposed to drawing their future for them. I know that financial planners talk about the five worlds, Brad, but there’s only one world and that’s their future world. And we talked about this in a previous podcast. You know, the futures model is everybody wants the genius model that we help them build but actually my favorite model is the futures model. It’s just a ridiculously powerful conversation to be having with people because you’re talking about their future, their world, and you can talk about five different storylines into the future and things like that. But they really only care about their future. I mean, we could draw it again but we’ve already done… 


Brad Johnson: Yeah, So, for time’s sake, Simon, the futures model, I’m going to brag on it so you don’t have to. We did have that conversation. It was during COVID. So, what a perfect time because everybody was trying to figure out how to communicate via Zoom and you were kind enough to hop on. And I’ll tell you the power of that. I had an advisor in Sweden, of all places, reach out to me on Facebook, and he’s like, “That model, that one model, that futures model Simon shared,” and all he was doing was kind of trying to recreate it off of the video that the ten-minute conversation where we covered it and it helped him close a $10 million client. I don’t know if I ever told you that story but that’s the power of it. And he said it just simplified everything. This guy was procrastinating and it helped me in a very simple visual way, helped me get him to a decision point. And so, we’re not going to reshare it today. If you’re listening in, Simon’s kind enough, we kind of clipped that section out of our prior conversation. Just reply back to however you got this, whether it’s a DM on social, we’ll make that a deliverable that we’ll share out so we can kind of save everybody some time here. So, with that being said, there’s a couple of takeaways from that conversation, Simon. I love the concept of the model being the mediator and kind of the co-creation that we talked about.


A lot of our offices that we coach use kind of a CFP standard plan, which is those five worlds you talked about. So, if this is your first time tuning in as a listener, income investments, taxes, health care, legacy estate, those are kind of the five worlds. And I love your concept of they only carry about one world, their future world. Would you say the analogy that we could use there is if there was like one book, it’s like their future is a book. And in that book, you could have five chapters that would equal their future, which could be those five worlds. But if you’re not clearly simplifying here’s your future book and you’re getting down in the weeds on the five worlds, you’re probably losing them. Or is there a better way to kind of explain that concept? 


Simon Bowen: I’m definitely not saying the five words are not important. What I am saying is that’s financial industry speak, right? The customer intuitively understands those kind of five areas but the reality is that everybody is only buying two things. And any complex product or service is kind of the same. We’re all selling two things. The first thing we’re selling is aspiration. And what I mean by that is whilst humans, whilst not everyone wants to admit this, the reality is everybody wants to win. Yeah. They want a bigger car and bigger house than their neighbors. They want to beat that health challenge they’ve got. They want to win in terms of their income plan, their investment plan, you know, their health plan. Everyone wants to get to retirement, be super fit and healthy, live another 30 years in a plush lifestyle, and have everybody else wanted to have a helluva idea and everybody actually wants to win. So, sure, there’s five storylines but the truth is the first thing that people want to buy is they want to win. So, if I’m a financial planner or in the financial services industry, how do I show people their future? And I’ll talk about timeframes in a minute, but how do I show people their future against those five storylines, those five chapters, as you’ve said, and what winning looks like in each of those five chapters?


But the second thing that people want to buy is safety. Now, people aren’t inherently safe. People don’t behave inherently safely. And we know that to be true because they smoke or they drink alcohol or they overeat. 


Brad Johnson: Fast cars. 


Simon Bowen: Yeah, exactly. Right? Bad decisions and simple little things like they have a hobby in their shed woodturning but they don’t wear safety glasses or they mow the lawn without good sturdy boots on and a rock comes out and takes a chunk out of their foot or whatever. People don’t behave inherently safely but people want someone or something else to make them safe. We want the government to make us safe. You know, like we’ve just had a big cyber-attack here from a Russian crime gang, and they’ve taken most of the financial data from the largest health insurer in Australia. And they’re releasing things like the people that have had mental health claims or substance abuse issues onto the dark web and they’re holding that health insurer to ransom. Now, people want the government to fix that. Well, the health insurer is responsible for the data and everything else, right? And it’s criminals that actually did the deed. And the truth is, in today’s world, if the criminal element wants to get data from someone, they’ll get it. But people want the government to fix that. They want the government to make them safer.


And so, people buy two things. I want you to show me how I’m going to win at a better-than-average rate. I don’t just want to win average, like you’re not going to win any business as a financial planner if you sit down with a client and go, “I’m going to promise you an average future.” That’s not going to get it done, right? They want you to sit down and say, “I’m going to promise you a wonderful future and I’m going to keep you safe. If you do what we plan, if you follow the plan, there’s a level of failure that I can protect you from.” And I know that that’s a bold thing and financial plans have all sorts of regulatory requirements placed upon them and things like that. It doesn’t change the fact that people are buying two things, that helped me to win and win into the future and keep me safe, safe into the future. So, there’s three time zones that people are operating in. And it’s interesting. There’s the past. And in the past, actually, I’ll do all three time zones in the first instance, and then there’s the present. And then there’s the future. This is particularly pertinent in the financial services sector. So, the past is hindsight. And people visit the past often with regret, blind, or shame. People visit the past and let the emotions of the past flood in.


I’ve done a lot of work with the lake sporting teams in our Australian national teams and things like that. And when you look at people that perform at an elite level, so this is what the average do. When you look at people that perform at an elite level, they also visit the past, but they only visit the past to get the lessons. They don’t attach themselves to the emotion of the past. They just go to the past. They get the lessons. And the average person spends 20% to 30% of their time living in the past in regret. The elite spend about 10% of their time living in the past. The future is foresight. And people, the average person spends about 20% of their time living in the future and the emotions often attached to that is fear and anxiety, and interestingly enough, shame. Shame is a really interesting emotional state in the human condition. And why would people have shame about the future? Because they know they’re not set up for it. They know the future is coming and I didn’t do enough in the past to be prepared for the future. Elite performers spend about 10% of their time in the future, and they go there to make plans. They go to the future for plans. So, what’s the goal? Therefore, what are the steps needed to get to the goal? And these people bring all of that back into the present, which is insight.


They bring it back into the present and they execute based on the lessons of the past and the plans of the future. And they’re spending about 80% of their time in the present moment executing. The average person is only spending about 50% to 60% of the time in the present moment and they’re not executing on action. They’re executing on emotion, which is a real problem. And so, we can frame all of this. If we just use simple traffic light analogy, it’s red zone behavior and all of this as green zone behavior. And the difference is humans, the average human doesn’t do green zone very well in terms of the past or the future. If there’s so much emotion attached to these things, I might as well just avoid thinking about it in the present. So, I’m going to spend 50% to 60% of my time in the present in avoidance. And that one guy, that one conversation that I’ve just drawn there is everything about what a financial planner exist to address. A financial planner exists to bring the green zone to people that are operating in the red zone and help them understand these five worlds. And so, they’re basically saying, “I can help protect you from the things that you fear and anxious about in the future and your mistakes in the past because I’m an expert at capturing the lessons in these five kind of chapters of your future. And I’m an expert at making a plan.” And people don’t think plans are sexy but they’re sexy as hell because no one wins a Super Bowl or an Olympic gold medal without a plan.


Like, for a team to win a match, they’ve got to have a game plan, right? And I think we make the mistake of, “Oh, yeah, we’ve got to do a plan.” Make the plan as sexy as hell because the plan is what protects them from risk and offers them the chance to win, right? And once again, if people go and watch that little video about the futures model, you can’t guarantee someone’s end outcome in the future but a financial planner can guarantee the pathway because they have foresight. And why did they have foresight? Because they have walked that path with hundreds of other people already. And I know what the pathway looks like. They know what the green line. That will make sense to people if they go and watch that little video. The financial planner knows what the green line looks like to get to this wonderful future. And you can guarantee people, “If you do these things along that green line, all things being equal, that future will occur.” And if it doesn’t occur to you, it probably hasn’t occurred for anybody because the world fell apart. But if you do these things along the green line because I have foresight, I’ve walked that green line before, there’s no emotion attached to this. It’s a plan. And I’ve gone back into the past. I’ve looked at your history.”


The other thing that you can do is rule a line down this. This is one move in sales that a financial planner can do that will change the nature of the relationship with a client immediately and instantly make them feel safe, instantly make them feel safe. Rule a line on the past. Give them closure on it and make it not their mistake. You know, it’s like and… 


Brad Johnson: It’s like financial therapy. It’s like therapy, honestly. 


Simon Bowen: Yeah, of course. And you put a peg in the sand and you go, you know, it’s currently the 15th of what is for me. It’s probably still the 14th for you. 


Brad Johnson: But you have to explain what put a pig in the sand means. That might not be common in the US. 


Simon Bowen: Oh, okay. Okay. So, a peg in the sand rules the line. So, we have a lot of beach sports and beach cricket and stuff like that and you put a peg in the sand and that’s like the finished line. 


Brad Johnson: Oh, a peg. A peg.


Simon Bowen: Yeah, not a pig. 


Brad Johnson: Got it. I was like, is this like a luau? What do we got going on here? 


Simon Bowen: No, no, no. It’s just when I say things, we’re planning for sheep stations and stuff, people have no clue what we’re talking about. Chuck a sickie, you know, take a sick day off work, chuck a sickie. But now a peg in the sand like it’s the line, right? And so, you said, you know what? Imagine you’re a client and I’m working today, “You know what, Brad? It’s the 15th of November. Let’s put a peg in the sand today,” and everything that happened before today doesn’t matter anymore because it’s gone. It’s the past. And, you know, at times when we were together, you’ll say to me, “Yeah, but I didn’t put the money aside.” I’m going to say, “It doesn’t matter anymore.” And you know what? It also wasn’t entirely your fault, Brad, because the system is not set up for this to be easy for you. It’s actually set up to be quite difficult. And that’s why it’s important that you have the benefit of foresight who’s walked the path before you but you just need to be confident that the path is the right one. Let me show you a green line and do you want that line? And then people need to reference the futures model that we keep talking about. But let me just… 


Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, for context, I want to distill a couple of things you said because I think this is really key. First off, you’re giving them permission to close that chapter and you’re also letting them off the hook where there’s not that resistance you talked about before. You’re easing it. You’re letting it go away, like, hey, we’re not going to blame you for that. Maybe you didn’t have the proper coach. Maybe you didn’t have the proper plan, education, whatever. And so, you’re letting that go away but you can distill the lesson. We can take the lesson from that and bring that forward and now make better decisions going forward. The interesting thing and I don’t want to take us too far off track here but one of the common themes I see in all of your models, it’s progressing forward. Like one model you might start with that leads into the next model that kind of gets that we call it in our coaching, meet them where they are. 


Simon Bowen: Yeah. 


Brad Johnson: And so, I see the progression in your models. The other thing I see a lot, and this is for the advisors that have done a lot of whiteboarding because I know that’s many of them listening into this conversation, but I also see almost like it’s the best analogy I can make. It’s like a flower that’s blooming. The choreography on the unveil as well as the color selection even these last two models that were in two new models, I look at them through a different lens. I’m like, “Ah, you see us in the green on that one, the red on that one, the neutral color on that one.” So, can we give like just a short little snippet on maybe the why behind some of the choreography, the color usage in your models as well for those advisors that might be able to apply those lessons to their whiteboarding? 


Simon Bowen: Yeah, absolutely. So, first of all, if we think about a simple two-by-two matrix. So, so many people rely on words only and I’ll try and do all this in the context of a whiteboard and I use red and blue and green because they’re kind of hardwired. Everyone stops on red, everyone goes on green, and no one knows what to do with amber. And so, they are hardwired color schemes. So, if I want people to make a subconscious, “Oh, that’s bad. That’s good,” interpretation, I’ll often use the red, amber, green or red, orange, green of a traffic light system. I try to keep a lot of symmetry in the models. People don’t like things being unbalanced, and so I pay attention to, you know, there’s a reason why I’ve written words only on an angle coming off that corner because it applies to both sides. And I’m going to fan out from that corner. So, it’s on an angle deliberately. But when we… 


Brad Johnson: Also, for context, I just want to add this because I do know compliance and suitability is going to be listening to this. I think, first off, your color choice of red and green applies perfectly to finance. When stocks are down, they’re red. When stocks are up, they’re green, typically. And then I also just want to hit one thing that we hit earlier about people don’t want average, you know, as far as their retirement and return. I think the beauty of the holistic financial plan just to circle back, it’s those proper steps in the right place where I think so many advisors feel helpless because they can’t control the stock market. And, you know, if you sell on returns and overperformance compared to the guy down the street, that’s a losing proposition long term because as Warren Buffett himself says, “I can’t predict the future of the stock market.” And so, I just want to kind of package that real quick of not average in scope of returns, but average in scope of better planning to have a better, more ideal retirement. And for context, I didn’t want to break up the flow there earlier but I have assumed we’re all talking the same language there. 


Simon Bowen: Well, here’s the other thing. If you draw, the client can interrupt you and you can go down an entirely different pathway and then you’ll come back to exactly where you were and pick it up where you left off because there’s a placeholder waiting there for me. I’ve got a record I want to address. I’ve got a half-finished model and now I’m going to finish it. I know what it is already so I’m going to come back to that but just to pick up on what you’re saying and make the point, now, the future model that we keep referring to says you’re in the present moment and over X number of years, you’re either going to land in this ideal retired or ideal financial world in your future or this crisis place in your future. And there’s two different paths, a red path and a green path. And I won’t go into the model but what I keep talking about and what you’ve just been talking about is you can’t really guarantee the future. But if you’re a good financial planner, you should be able to guarantee the pathway to the future. And as long as we go through these gates and shut them behind us, and that’s called a plan, as long as we go through these gates and shut them behind us, and if we go through a gate and things are just tapering off a bit and we make the adjustments to get back onto the green line as we go through that, it won’t be a straight line.


The truth is, it’ll go like this. But as long as we end up where we need to end up and as long as we know we’re above that black line, we’re on the green line, you can guarantee a pathway. Here are the gates that we walked through across five chapters inside your future financial world. And we just need to walk through the gates together and no one falls off the green line. They just behave their way off the green line. Part of my job is to make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes of the past, which, by the way, were not your fault. You know, this kind of education, you would give them bad advice or whatever but what I do need to do is make sure that we have a plan that eliminates fear, anxiety, and shame in the future and gives you a better than average result. It’s a whole great context but this whiteboarding thing, Brad, people often use words only so which I see people on whiteboards all the time writing up the words they’re saying on the whiteboard. What a waste of time. When you use words only, people say, “I hear you,” but quite frankly, it’s just noise. And you know, the average adult reading age in Australia and England and the USA is 14.


So, the moment, you use any kind of industry jargon, you’re losing people depending on who you’re dealing with but if you’re using college-level, university-level language, you’re losing a percentage of the population. So, written and spoken words are only about 11% of the input channel through the auditory channel that people hear. So, what we need to do is open up the visual access to the concept that we’re talking about. We need to let people see the concept. 83% comes in through the optic nerve and when we open up that visual access, people say, “Oh, I see.” And what we say is much more interesting than what we hear. You know, one of the stories that I think is most applicable to this, remember that Thai soccer team that got stuck in the cave a few years back? 


Brad Johnson: I do. 


Simon Bowen: And when I first heard that story, it was just a report read out on the news. There were no visuals or anything. It’s just like a  youth soccer team has been stuck in a cave in Thailand and the cave is starting to flood and they’re worried about how they can get them out. And, you know, it was just auditory only, right, words only. And my immediate reaction was, “Well, you walk in there. Walk out before the flood comes. I don’t get it.” Then we all started seeing the graphics of the cave and how, you know, and now I’m thinking, “Why did you even go in there in the first place?” 


Brad Johnson: Right. Right. 


Simon Bowen: But now, “Okay, this is a real problem.” What we see is much more interesting than what we hear. But then we also need to give people this second component, which I think is the most critical thing about a model. The visual access is important but we need to give people structural access. The human brain is a meaning-making machine and it needs to take pieces of something and put them together to make sense of them. And when we give people structural access, which is what I’m doing at the moment by drawing this model for everybody, when we give people structured access, they go, “I get it and this is believable.” So, because I am explaining this whole idea right now in the form of a model, it’s far more believable than if I was just talking. And by the way, if I was just speaking at the moment, I already would have lost everybody. But if I follow the visual, this thing makes sense. And so, we get up into this green quadrant up here where people say, “I see. I get it. That is desirable. I want that.” And so, that might be the end of the story but if we view these two scales as performance scales, so 1 to 10 and we perform at 8 or above in terms of giving people structural access and we perform at 8 or above in terms of giving people visual access, we open up the super green quadrant up in the top right corner that no one really realizes exists. But this is the field of elite performance.


Elite performance is 80% or 90% or above. You know, no one would be happy going to a neurosurgeon for surgery and have the neurosurgeon say, “I’m going to give it my best shot to do an average job here.” It’s just like you want the neurosurgeon to be like, “What marks did you get at uni? I got a solid 70%.” That’s not the dude you want to have like you want the guy that got 90s, right? Or a dentist, “I’m going to give it my best shot and not hurt you.” No. I want like some certainty. And so, when we perform at eight or above, desirable becomes buyable. And the thing that shoves that into that 8 and above is performance, what we call choreography. How you walk through the story, how you unpack it, the pathway. So, there’s four components to great choreography. There’s the entry into the choreography. So, I said something right at the start of this that was my entry into the choreography. You know, if you think about this, it’s kind of like a simple two-by-two matrix. That was deliberately chosen. It’s like a simple two-by-two matrix. I’m seeking in somebody’s mind, this is a simple thing. It’s just a two-by-two. It’s nothing special. It’s just a two-by-two matrix. It’s not complex. It’s not hard.


The second thing is pathway. So, I am generally always moving from worst case to best case, which is, you know, from words and noise through interesting and then through believable, up into this desirable. The third thing is punch line. So, I spend a lot of time thinking about what’s the punch line that I’m going to have in this discussion now? Punch line. This is like I studied comedy and magic, stage comedy, stage magic. A trick or joke is set up, set up, set up, punchline, or reveal. And the punchline or reveal is this instantaneous moment where you shift the perspective rapidly. You shift the paradigm rapidly on people so it can’t go back to the old. And so, the punchline here was when I’d fleshed out this simple two-by-two matrix, and then I said, “Oh, but there’s this hidden space up in the top right corner where the elite live.” Now, all anybody cares about is what’s in that top right corner. How do I get that? And what’s up there is what really differentiates what we do in the world, which is bring great performance and choreography to visual models and whiteboard work, right? So, you’ve got to look for the punch line when you’re at your whiteboard, pre-prepare the punchlines you’re going to deliver and when are they going to happen.


And something has to happen visually alongside that punch line so you can keep going to the whiteboard and touching that part of the whiteboard where you deliver that really powerful punch line or you can circle it and you can draw it. And then the fourth thing is the exit out of the model or the exit out of the whiteboard discussion. That discussion needs to lead to something else, whereas a lot of people will get up to a whiteboard, they do the thing on the whiteboard, and then they just sit back down at the table again and keep going with the meeting, as opposed to let’s take all of that off the whiteboard and distill it into a conversation and bring it back to the table, right? So, the reason I went through that with you on the whiteboard was so that we could look at this thing right now. It’s important. And so, this entry, pathway, punch line, exit, which is transition into the next thing and every step should tell a story and that story should make them safer with you than they would be without you. You know, I’ve said you and I have spent a lot of time together. So, you’re familiar with the idea of buyer safety. You know, that the customer needs to be safer with you at every step of the process than they would be without you because that’s the only thing that insulates them against mistakes of the past. Every sale is an insurance policy. Every sale is an insurance policy.


So, people are talking to you out of interest because something’s not right with the way they’re set up for their future world. So, they’re talking to you and other people out of interest. And the interest is who could help me? So, they’re shopping around, right? But they make the decision to buy you or whoever they buy out of a need for insurance and this is the insurance they want. They want to be insured against failures of their past. And they want to be insured against the failures of their past that they themselves have caused or that other people have caused by letting them down. No one is talking to a financial planner in a vacuum that all got some kind of money. You know, 500,000 and up, 10 million, whatever the number is, they’ve all got money. They’re not in a vacuum. They’ve all done stuff. They’ve all had different advisors. They’ve all had an accountant, spoken to a lawyer, had insurance policies. No one’s talking to a financial adviser in a vacuum. What they want to hear is how are you going to protect me against the failures of my past that I’ve caused and that other people have inflicted upon me? In other words, I need to feel safer and safer and safer with you at every step of the way so that the safest thing in the world for me to do is to commit to you and use you.


And only when they get to that point has the sale occurred. And safer means that you can give me a better-than-average future. I’m not coming to you for an average future. Hell, I could probably manage that by myself. I want to win, you know. 


Brad Johnson: So, it’s time and I love this. We could sit here and geek out on this stuff for hours. Unfortunately, we don’t have hours. I want to get your take on maybe a closing thought or two and then we’ll let you get because I know you’ve got some people to serve right after this. So, I know we have a mutual friend in Michael Hyatt. In fact, I think you’ve done some work with him on models. And he was out at one of our events and he said, “You know, the thing I see in financial services is how many businesses are built on the personality of the founder.” 


Simon Bowen: Sure. 


Brad Johnson: You’ve met plenty of financial advisors. They’re charismatic. They’re the person they can host the dinner party. Everybody loves them. They’re magnetic. And a lot of founders I see, that’s how they’ve scaled their business that’s based on them. As we coach a lot, it’s how to build a business that not only it doesn’t become your life, it betters your life. And to get scale of any kind, but not everything can fall on you. We all know that. That’s business 101. So, I’m curious your take on models and basically being able to distill this wisdom out of maybe a very charismatic founder that has that magnetic personality, that maybe they’re 60 years old, they’ve been doing this for 30 years, but now they’ve got the next guy in line, the young 25, 30-year-old go-getter. And one of the biggest frustrations I see in finance is, “They just don’t get it. I can’t get them to close that sale or meet with that person.” But to me, it’s the model that can also be that foundational piece of passing that knowledge on. I know you’ve worked in finance a lot. I know that’s kind of a big question but what are your thoughts around just that concept in general? 


Simon Bowen: Yeah. It’s interesting. So, a couple of quick observations. I’ve had the real pleasure of spending a reasonable amount of time with Richard Branson including some really intimate conversations. At one point, he and I and one other person having lunch together and stuff like that and at one point I asked him, “You are still the face of Virgin. So, how does that work?” And he said, “No company in the world becomes great without a human face,” which was an interesting insight. So much of us are obsessed with how do you step out of the business and let the business be a business. Now, he doesn’t do anything operationally. He doesn’t have a diary and he doesn’t keep a to-do list. He just has a notebook and he makes a note of something. And then he tells the manager who is most responsible for that and then expects that it’s going to happen. You know, he doesn’t follow up or anything like that. So, he’s a great delegator but no great company became great without a human face. And so, the personality is really important, right? And that means you’ve got to be able to trust that people are going to deliver. And so, one of the things that we use models for is in every company there is what I call company genius behind it.


There’s a core genius that differentiates it in the market. 70% to 80% to 90% of what everybody does is the same as everybody else. As the other 10% to 15%, that is the intuition that you get paid the premium for. And so, that financial advisor that’s been at it for 40 years has a ton of intuition and company genius usually comes from the founder. I’ve got a model that I call The Origins of Genius. It comes from the founder or the owner. And one of the challenges in handing on a body of work or life work to somebody younger is we don’t have a great way of articulating it, where once again, we’re just talking to them in words, expecting them to take notes and remember it. But if we distill that intuitive genius into organized genius and build a model around it, now we can actually teach the model and the model contains the genius. The model becomes the core of the company, and then the founder or the owner just has to be the personality of the company. What’s the problem is most owners are trying to be the personality of the company and the core of the company. Make your genius. Turn that into a model and make that the core of the company. Here’s how we do what we do and deliver it to people and be the personality of the company and host a dinner and bring people in but know that all of these young people have a framework and a model.


The problem with youth and the advantage of youth is their energy level. It’s their advantage but it also means people move at a pace faster than perhaps insight. Insight is slow and energy is fast and that’s kind of the mismatch. So, if you examine all the great companies in the world, they all have a human face, which is fine, but make sure it’s the personality of the company. It isn’t the core of the company, which means distill what you do down into frameworks that you can teach and then people sell the framework. Sell the framework. It’s like a blueprint for the brain, then sits between the concept, which is financial planning, which is an abstract and reality, which is someone’s got a great financial future that has actually occurred for them now. What’s the blueprint for the brain that sits in the middle? It’s your framework, your model. It’s how you unpack this thing. It’s the core genius of the company. That is the distillation of people having taken hundreds, if not thousands of people down that green line in the past and decoding the gateways to walk through to make that happen.


So, now we’ve got these five financial worlds but what are the gateways inside that? What’s the frameworks? What are the plans and things inside of that? So, I do think for a company to be salable as an asset, it can’t be dependent upon the work effort of the owner but it can be dependent upon the personality of the owner and get it to a salable point because anybody that’s going to buy that company is buying it, thinking they’re going to do a better job than the previous owner. And I completely discount the importance of the personality of the owner. So, build your business off the back of your personality, but not off the back of your hard labor and distill that genius into frameworks and have the team work through the frameworks. It’s still a sizable asset. It’ll drive the business but people need to be able to believe in people. People don’t trust machines. People don’t trust technology. People need to be able to believe in people. I need to know there’s a human operating on me, not a robot. 


Brad Johnson: Right. And tell it’s 100% proven and tested after many reiterations, right? 


Simon Bowen: Correct. Absolutely. 


Brad Johnson: Cool. Well, here’s one final question for you and we will let you run. So, the concept of this show is Financial Advisor Evolution and that took a lot of time and thinking to get to that very simple short name. And it really comes from the thought process, much of which I am a curious person that loves to learn. I know you are as well. We’re in some of the same groups together, but if we look at the only constant in life is change. It’s the same in finance. What is the one thing and maybe sit yourself on the consumer side now, what is the one thing that you believe needs to evolve in the world of finance or the world of financial advising if you were going to share that to all the advisors out there? Here’s how it is today. Here’s where it should be or where it needs to evolve. Something needs to change. 


Simon Bowen: Yeah. And from a consumer perspective so this is an odd deal and whether or not it could happen is another question. But the regulatory and compliance framework that sits over the Financial Planning World, Financial Advisory World is designed to give the average consumer confidence that they’re not going to get ripped off, right? But it impedes the higher performing consumer from being able to have a conversation about what’s possible if we did some stuff like almost the promise that this sort of stuff would be possible for the people that understand risk and things like that. And so, I think one of the challenges from a consumer point of view is everybody’s treated like they’re not that bright and they have to be protected from themselves and the decisions of the financial planning world. And everyone’s not equal. Everyone is not actually the same. So, for me, financial, you know, the evolution of financial advice would be if I was in the financial planning world, I’d really only be interested in one category of clients and that’s the ones that understand risk and are pursuing substantial net worth. I mean, I don’t know that I’d be that interested in the bulk of the market, if you like, and that means I’ve got to step my game up in a whole lot of ways.


I’ve got to be obsessed with being amongst the 1% of elite who are just trying to unpack all of the nuances we possibly can to be able to give people a really sturdy view of their future. And I’m not a financial planner, so I’m not doing that all the time but I feel like too often we see people relying on a product that they sell or it’s buy this product, put this together as opposed to let me share my insights with you, which is advice. Basically, let me share the benefit of experience with you. I actually want the old guy who’s done this a million times but has done it 10 or 15 different ways that have all worked a million times and is constantly. I want the innovative old guy. That’s an interesting flavor to pursue. How do I have this tonality of the innovative old guy? He’s got all the water under the bridge but he’s constantly innovating for the top 1%. I might only be 30 years old, but how do I have this tonality of the innovative old guy? I might be 60 years old, but how do I have this tonality of the innovative old guy, right, who isn’t breaking any of the compliance regulations or anything else, but he’s really challenging people on what’s possible for them for the future? Because everybody wants to win. They want a better-than-average result, you know, and they want to be protected.


So, it’s kind of a rambling answer from an informed point of view. But if I was a consumer, that’s the person I want to meet. I want to meet the person that goes, “It’s okay. It’s okay. I got this. And we’re going to do some stuff that other people don’t do, but I know works. And let me show you the evidence of that and this is the pathway we’re going to go on. And you’re going to do better than most.” That’s a bold claim delivered so subtly and so carefully but that’s the person I want to meet, right? 


Brad Johnson: Well, I think the beauty of a great, well-thought-out plan, as you were drawing that futures model earlier that kind of zig and zag, it’s kind of like GPS. You know, you think about it, you want to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. Well, guess what? If you’re driving through the heart of L.A., it’s not going to be the route you thought. You’re going to get some redirects and things like that but you’re still going to get there. 


Simon Bowen: It never is. It never is. 


Brad Johnson: Yeah. And so, I love that kind of final thought and I also think what’s interesting, what I also heard from you is a more personalized experience, not a generic experience that oftentimes I do think you probably want some financial advisors over because you’re like compliant, suitability, kind of waters things down. It also has to protect us as well and so it’s this fine line and this balance. But I do love your concept of more personalized advice suited to the individual. 


Simon Bowen: Yeah. The compliance framework is really, really important but it’s my future we’re talking about. So, I want someone who… 


Brad Johnson: Well, and by the way, compliance and suitability is going to love the idea of more personalized, specific advice to that individual because that’s what they’re trying to do. It’s just it’s an interesting world we live in where that’s constantly evolving. Well, Simon, thank you so much. As always, man, you over-delivered. I knew you would. Excited to get this out to the world. And Triad home office, you’re always welcome, you know this. So, next time you make a trip to the States, you let us know and we’ll host you. All right?


Simon Bowen: All right. 


Brad Johnson: All right, my man. Appreciate it. 

Simon Bowen: Bye bye.


These conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into the advisory practice, advisors are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed is in accordance with any and all regulatory and compliance responsibilities and obligations. Please keep in mind that images, drawings, illustrations used as part of the client acquisition or sales process are considered advertising and must abide by the same rules, regulations and limitations as other marketing materials. Investment advisors are encouraged to seek pre-approval of their applicable RIA/BD prior to implementing new strategies into their sales process. TP03232823322

Copyright © 2023 Triad Partners, LLC


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