Financial advisors who simplify complex topics with visuals

A picture says more than a thousand words. If this age-old saying appeals to you, you’re not alone.

In fact, studies consistently show that people benefit significantly when information is presented visually, not just in writing or verbally. Consider these stats:

👀 “90% of information sent to the brain is visual” (MIT study)

🧠 “The human brain can process an image in just 13 milliseconds” (MIT study)

🗺️ “People who follow instructions with illustrations do 323% better than those who follow instructions with text only” (Effects of Text Illustration: A Review of Research ECTJ)

When it comes to financial planning, is a picture worth a thousand figures?

According to Dr. Ted Klontz, an expert in financial psychology, the answer is a definite “yes.” dr. Klontz says visuals help people better understand money concepts and develop more engaging relationships with their financial advisors.

Is a financial advisor using visuals right for you?

If you’re considering hiring a financial advisor, you may want to find one who uses visual aids and tools to help you learn important money concepts faster, feel more confident in your personal finances, and make the complex much more understandable.

Fortunately, a growing number of financial advisors are now using easy-to-understand visual aids and illustrations to make meetings much more enjoyable and rewarding for their clients. But where can you find an advisor who uses visuals? We’ve created this guide to help you find US financial advisors who use imagery in their client meetings so you can find an advisor who might be right for you.

And while you can choose to work with a financial advisor who lives in your area, most of the financial advisors in this guide can work with you online no matter where you or they live. By hiring a virtual financial advisor to meet with you using a video conferencing service like Zoom, you’ll even save time on the commute to meet with a personal advisor, allowing you to spend more time on more important priorities.

Examples of visuals that simplify financial planning

To demonstrate the value of visual aids, let’s look at a few real-world examples that a financial advisor can discuss with you based on your individual financial planning needs.

🎓Financial Aid Visual

This is an image a financial advisor uses to identify when income and wealth are being assessed for financial aid planning purposes. The process of applying for colleges and filling out financial aid forms is stressful enough!

If you’re saving for college and interested in the potential of financial aid to lower your costs, your advisor can use an image like this one to explain what’s being graded and when it’s graded so you can plan today to achieve a better result in the years ahead.


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🧓 Visual for Minimum Distribution Required (RMD) calculations

This is an example of a visual aid used by a financial advisor that doesn’t just explain how the required minimum distribution calculations for retirees will change given the new death tables released for 2022 (Hint: benefits will generally be lower now! ), it also introduces a discussion of when to make distributions from certain tax-deferred accounts in a given year.

Should the benefits be taken as a lump sum at the beginning of the year, at the end of the year or in equal amounts over the whole year? If you’re interested in optimizing your retirement income to minimize taxes, a financial advisor using a visual tool like this can simplify a very complicated topic to help you gain confidence in your RMD strategy.

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⛳ Visuals to make financial planning more fun

Some visuals can even be used to make your meetings with a financial advisor fun? By drawing analogies with non-financial topics such as your hobbies and sports, visual aids can make conversations about financial topics more relatable and even more enjoyable.

This next example is a visual used by a financial advisor to explain how three primary investment planning concepts – diversification, asset allocation, and asset location – can be applied to the game of golf!

For example, just as you shouldn’t invest exclusively in one company stock, industry, or asset class, you shouldn’t use just one golf club on the course (unless we’re talking miniature golf!). Instead, you use a variety of different investment vehicles, each designed to help you achieve a specific outcome while reducing risk, much like a golfer uses different clubs designed to approach different shots in different ways.

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Q&A with Ross Riskin, DBA, CPA/PFS, CCFC, MS Tax

We asked Ross Riskin, founder of RWM, associate professor of taxation at the American College of Financial Services and chief creative officer for visiWealth, a company that specializes in creating images of complicated wealth management and financial planning topics, for his opinion on a few questions about using visuals as a financial advisor.

Q: Why is it important as a practicing financial advisor to focus on using visuals in your conversations with potential and current clients?

Ross: Aside from the pleasure I receive and the mental exercise I go through creating visuals, using them effectively has allowed me to better connect with potential clients and build deeper relationships with existing clients because I am no longer seen as a financial advisor – I am seen as an educator.

Using visuals effectively allows me to communicate complex concepts in a way that doesn’t overwhelm others and ultimately lead to them gaining an adequate level of understanding – something a good teacher is always focused on.

Q: Is there an example of a complicated topic you often use to simplify a visualization where you often see customers having a “light bulb moment”?

Ross: I don’t have a specific concept or topic in mind, but I can say that being able to use visuals when talking about a tax-related concept or strategy almost always results in a “light bulb” moment for the client in my experience.

Taxation is a topic that usually elicits one of three responses from a customer (and even advisors): boredom, confusion, and anger.

Using visuals allows me to neutralize those feelings and flip the script on what they think tax planning actually means. Not only has this resulted in my clients understanding complex topics better, but also their willingness to follow my recommendations has increased, which is a sign that a high level of trust has been established and the foundation for a long-term relationship is built.

Q: When someone begins their search for a financial advisor, how do you suggest they ask if the advisor provides educational support and visual aids to simplify complex topics?

Ross: That’s a good question and I don’t think people ask the consultants they’re talking about often enough!

If you’re interviewing a financial advisor, don’t hesitate to ask them if they can use visual information to not only explain complicated planning strategies, but also help you answer more specific and straightforward questions you may have.

If they’re poking around to answer this question or say they can’t, prepare to be bombarded with complicated text-heavy emails, 40-slide PowerPoint presentations, and pages upon pages of tables with tons of numbers. as part of the ‘planning experience’.

Meet financial advisors using visuals

If you’re ready to find a financial advisor who uses visual aids to make planning for your financial future more enjoyable, over the next few weeks you’ll find a growing number of advisors on Wealthtender ready to work with you . Just scroll down to find financial advisors on Wealthtender who use visuals and may be right for you.

Or browse our list of financial advisors to find financial advisors with the experience and credentials that matter to you, then ask if they use visual aids to help their clients become better informed and educated about their financial future.

Financial advisors using visuals Are you a financial advisor?

If you’re a financial advisor interested in hosting more engaging and rewarding meetings with your clients, visit to access high-quality visuals that cover a wide variety of planning concepts at a low annual cost.

About the author
Brian Thorp, founder and CEO of Wealthtender profile photo

About the author

Brian Thorp

Brian is CEO and founder of Wealthtender. He and his wife live in Texas and enjoy the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin.

With over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, Brian applies his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.

Connect with Brian on LinkedIn

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