An interview with Mark Ciucci

Who is Mark Ciucci?

To help you make the most of your Lumiant subscription, we spoke to our advice whisperer and coach, Mark Ciucci. Mark has had an illustrious career in the USA, having been one of the founders of United Capital and its Honest Conversations program. 


An introduction to Mark Ciucci and his experience helping advisors be successful

Positioning Values Based Advice

With Mark’s experience in positioning values-based advice, we asked him about how best to position the Lumiant experience to your existing clients, how to gain permission to hold clients accountable to qualitative goals, and the value proposition of helping people to live richly (not die rich). These key takeaways will help you get clients to understand the importance of values-based advice and how best to position Lumiant’s offerings.

Mark saw the importance of values-based advice through his experience as an advisor, where he discovered the number one client value was to spend more time with people they love – a qualitative factor. Not some magic number in retirement or an intent to beat the market. But rather, the meaning behind the money goals. 

Uncovering the purpose money serves in their lives enables advisors to be uniquely valuable to clients. The goal after all is to ultimately give them more of what they want, and less of what they don’t. 

A traditional, product-led advice approach will not achieve this. It will give you the money but not address the why. The ONLY way we can get to the why and guide client behavior to generate meaningfully better outcomes for clients is through value-based discussions.


 How values can help guide client behavior

We all operate in an industry that is brilliant at helping clients die rich. Out of an abundance of caution, we encourage clients to save more, spend less, stick to their investment allocation, all to minimize the risk of running out of money.

In his workshops, Mark found that you can ask every group of advisors 2 questions –

  1.     How many of your client’s portfolios are at their highest watermark? All hands will go up.
  2.     How many of your clients have asked for a raise in the last 12 months? No hands will go up.

He found that as advisors, we train our clients not to ask for a raise even though they could spend more money now than they could have 5 years ago. So ultimately you end up with producing an outcome for your clients that the vast majority don’t actually value…dying rich.

Mark made it clear that the movement to values-based advice conversations can be uncomfortable and, if it’s not uncomfortable, you are probably not doing it right. To work on becoming fluent in conversations around values, we have put together some outlines of how best to navigate this change for your practice:

Not feeling comfortable talking about values? Mark’s advice: get comfortable or find someone in the office that is.

How to Introduce Lumiant to Clients

Step One: Select your Five 

To start the introduction process, there are 5 categories of clients that you should first center the experience around:

  1.     Your best client
  2.     Your worst client
  3.     Your problem client 
  4.     The client that’s always asking “what’s new?”
  5.     The client that wants the new hype

How to introduce Lumiant to Ciucci’s Five

Step Two: Introducing Lumiant

When you’re introducing anything new to clients, whether it be software, processes or products, it’s important you answer three questions before they ask them. These questions are:

  • Why are you making a change? (Phase 1)
  • What is changing? (Phase 2)
  • Why should I care? (Phase 2)

By answering these questions up front, your client will be much more likely to go ahead with the new process.

How Ciucci would introduce Lumiant to clients


Before you start talking to your clients about Lumiant, you must first ask yourself what are the top three things you have achieved with them over the past five years. This helps you to frame the change positively - we’ve achieved a lot together, now it’s time to take the next step in our journey.

Then the introduction comes in 2 phases. 

Phase 1

You might say:

“We have been working with each other over (X) amount of years and over that time I think you would agree our firm has done a great job at (you need to decide on these 3 things) being responsive, being proactive and at delivering excellent performance portfolio results. But things are changing. We’ve got markets that are at record valuations, interest rates are at an all time low, we’ve got Covid and as well as we’ve done in the past, it’s the opinion of the firm that we simply must do better.”

So, the structure for Phase 1 is to say three good things about your firm, then follow with a declarative statement that no one is going to disagree with - “we must do better.”

Phase 2

You might say:

“As my best client, there’s no one I would rather get their input from than you. You’ve always been someone who has helped me evolve, been candid with me and if I wanted anyone’s perspective it’s yours.”

“We’ve done a tonne of research and we’ve trained a new process to use with our clients. As a valued client of the firm, I just want you to know upfront you don’t need to change anything. Our relationship will stay the same, but this is the way we’re going to be working with our new clients going forward. And as our best client, we wouldn’t want to withhold an option from you that we would give to someone you could refer to us tomorrow.” 

“So, I’d like to give you a test drive and you can let me know after if it makes sense for you and your family.”

For your best clients you may also want to add – “as our best client, you don’t need to worry about cost. Our firm is 100% absorbing that.”

For clients who are in a couple, it’s important to have both members of the relationship present in your values meeting. Again, highlight the performance you have achieved for the clients in the past and then ask them if they will be willing to trial your new offering, and to involve their spouse in the meeting. Values meetings are different to your standard financial meeting, which may not necessarily require both members of the relationship.

For these meetings you can differentiate between the ‘CFO Spouse’ and ‘Non-CFO Spouse’ as they will find Value from the meetings in different ways. Your CFO Spouse is likely to pay the bills, organize bank accounts, check their portfolios and keep tabs on their wealth. The other individual we refer to as the non-CFO. They are less likely to keep close tabs on their households financials and instead focus on managing different areas of the family’s lives and wellbeing. There are no specific genders attached to either role, it is determined by personal tendencies, and interests.  

In Values meetings you’re able to give the Non-CFO Spouse more of a voice because you’re talking about things they care about. Rather than just investment talk which, quite frankly, has no meaning to them. This is the beauty of the values session. It gives money meaning and allows them to better engage in the financial plan that will support them in living their best life. 

Now you’ve introduced Lumiant and received agreement to conduct a values session, how do you ensure you keep them accountable to everything you will discuss in this session?

Step Three: Holding clients accountable to their values and non-financial goals

Values and non-financial goals can feel unnatural for advisors to engage with.  “We’re experts in money and wealth management - not personal lives,” I hear you say. This opinion misses a trick. While it may be uncomfortable territory, values and non-financial goals are great ways to engage your clients outside of meetings. 

But before you start engaging clients and become their accountability partner for their entire lives, you first need to ensure they are willing to be held accountable. 

For example – if a client wants to run a marathon and needs to put in 5km a day to make it happen, you need to be told in advance it’s okay for you to regularly check-in on this goal.  

So, you should ask permission to hold clients accountable for the qualitative side – the quantitative side of advice is implied and in the job description. No one is surprised when you ask them to up their super contribution. 

On the qualitative side – it’s new. We want to make sure that: #1 they’re serious enough to be held accountable and that #2 they are willing to be held accountable by you. 

You need to bargain with people to get them to where they want to go. Every profession has this struggle – but advisors haven’t had this up until now. As an advisor introducing it and reframing it is important, so that clients are more comfortable.


Running a values session and asking permission

Step 4: Helping clients to live a rich life

Our industry is extraordinarily good at helping people to die rich. What we end up with is over 90% of plans ending with a legacy. Unfortunately, only about 15% of clients have a specific legacy goal. Most people's legacy goal is “whatever’s left”. We as an industry build plans to provide an outcome that clients don’t particularly value - not something you want to put on a billboard. 

If the goal isn’t to die rich, it should be to live rich. 

If you want to live rich, we need to understand what ‘richness’ means in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Really think about – what is a life well lived for your client?

The concept of happiness vs satisfaction.

Happiness is experiential, and it happens in the moment. Whereas, satisfaction is introspective – it is your own personal view of have I lived a life well lived? It’s looking back on life in totality and asking if you are truly satisfied. 

We want clients to look back at their life and be more than satisfied. This is what behavioral finance is about. We want there to be a qualitative component to life that goes beyond money by giving it meaning. Helping clients live a rich life across their dimensions of well being and helping their family to live a life aligned to their values.

This process will be more engaging, more fruitful and deliver better outcomes for clients and their families. Outcomes that let them say, they have lived their best life thanks to the support of their financial advisor.


It’s time we help clients live a rich life


Why not give it a go?

Download our training activity, "Picking your first clients" below. 




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