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As a financial advisor, it's easy to forget how difficult financial topics can be for others, given they aren’t focusing on this daily like you.

Many people - including potential clients - still struggle to grasp these concepts. Therefore, it's crucial to communicate our ideas in a clear and accessible manner.

And one of the most effective methods is through the use of analogies.

Financial advisors who leverage storytelling and analogies to explain complex strategies and concepts gain a significant edge over their peers.

Analogies create vivid mental images that resonate deeply1 with clients, making the information more relatable and memorable.

  • Remember, when communicating, simplicity is crucial.

Thus, by using compelling analogies, advisors not only improve client understanding but also may leave a lasting impression by highlighting expertise and essential insights.

So, with all that, here are eight powerful analogies you can utilize to attract and support clients

1. Illustrate Your Importance: “Financial Advisors Are Like Your Personal Finance Trainers”

This analogy is pivotal as it addresses the primary question potential clients ponder.

'Why do I need a financial advisor?'

Well, just as personal fitness trainers aid individuals in hitting their fitness goals, a financial advisor plays a crucial role in guiding clients toward a “healthier” financial future.

  • Customized Plan: A personal trainer designs a workout plan tailored to the client's specific fitness goals and physical condition. A financial advisor also creates a personalized financial plan based on the client's individual goals, risk tolerance, and current financial situation.
  • Expert Insights: Just as a trainer has expertise in exercise techniques, nutrition, and motivation, a financial advisor possesses deep knowledge of investments, savings strategies, and market trends. This expertise enables clients to make informed financial decisions.
  • Accountability: A trainer holds clients accountable, ensuring they adhere to their workout routines and achieve progress. A financial advisor keeps clients on track with their financial plans by helping with discipline and focusing on long-term goals.
  • Adaptability: When fitness goals change or challenges pop up, a trainer adjusts the plan to maintain progress. Likewise, a financial advisor adapts the financial plan in response to life changes or market fluctuations, ensuring ongoing financial stability.
  • Trust and Commitment: Clients trust their trainers to safely guide them toward fitness goals, even if they don't fully grasp every exercise. Thus, clients rely on their financial advisors' expertise and commitment to navigate them toward financial success.

2. Why Clients Should Follow You: “Financial Advisors Are Like Experienced Mountain Guides”

A financial advisor is like an experienced mountain guide who leads climbers up a challenging peak. Their expertise ensures that the climbers can move across treacherous terrain safely while reaching the summit despite any obstacles.

  • Knowledge and Experience: Just as a mountain guide possesses knowledge of safe paths, potential dangers, and optimal times for ascent or rest, a financial advisor understands market conditions, economic indicators, and investment opportunities. They utilize this expertise to guide clients toward their financial goals.
  • Critical Decisions: Similar to climbers trusting their guide’s judgment to navigate obstacles, clients rely on their advisor’s experience and comprehension of financial landscapes. When an advisor recommends a strategy that may initially seem risky, clients may trust them based on their analysis and strategic planning.
  • Reaching the Peak: The ultimate objective is for climbers to safely reach the summit while enjoying the journey and overcoming challenges with the guide’s support. Likewise, clients can achieve their financial goals - guided through both the good and the bad - by their advisor's expertise and help.

3. Financial Planning: “It’s Like Building a House”

Just as building a house requires important beginning steps – such as having a solid foundation, detailed blueprints, and a step-by-step building plan - financial planning requires a strong base, a clear vision, and a holistic approach.

  • Foundation: The foundation of a client's financial plan involves comprehending their current financial status, establishing realistic goals, and developing a budget. Without a solid foundation, their financial stability may be compromised.
  • Blueprints: In financial planning, the blueprints are essentially the client's financial goals and strategies. These blueprints guide every decision, ensuring that each step taken aligns with their goals.
  • Execution: This phase represents the implementation of the plan, where clients build their financial future through actions like saving, investing, obtaining insurance, and estate planning.

4. The Stock Market and Investing: “Imagine You’re Gardening”

The analogy here is that investing in the stock market is like tending to a garden. You need to plant seeds, nurture them, and be patient as they grow.

  • Planting Seeds: When clients invest in stocks, they are planting seeds with the potential to grow over time. And the selection of seeds (stocks) determines the type of plants (returns) they may yield.
  • Nurturing: Similar to a garden needing water, sunlight, and protection from bugs and pests, investments require regular monitoring, rebalancing, and stability against market risks.
  • Patience: Just as plants take time to grow, investments demand patience. Immediate results may often not be visible. But with consistent care and attention, the garden (portfolio) may flourish over time.

5. Trust Services: “Passing the Baton in a Relay Race”

A good analogy to explain trust services is like passing the baton in a relay race. It’s about ensuring a smooth and seamless transition of responsibilities and assets from one person to another.

  • Trustworthy Teammates: In a relay, team members rely on each other’s abilities. In trust services, beneficiaries rely on the trustee’s ability to manage and distribute assets responsibly.
  • Smooth Transition: Just as a baton must be passed without dropping it, assets and responsibilities need to be transferred seamlessly to avoid disruptions.
  • Coordination: Successful relay races and trust transfers both require clear communication, understanding of roles, and precise timing.

6. Emotions in Investing: “It’s Like Riding A Roller Coaster”

The emotional experience of investing is like riding a roller coaster. There are ups, downs, and moments of euphoria and fear that can change your mood. And just as on a roller coaster, there might be times when you want to get off right as the worst is over, but you must stay seated to enjoy the full ride. And vice versa, you might underestimate or not anticipate the big drops ahead.

In both cases, it's essential to trust the ride and stay the course, knowing that, like a roller coaster, the market will eventually rise again, providing a thrilling and rewarding experience.

  • Ups and Downs: The stock market's fluctuations resemble the peaks and valleys of a roller coaster. Maintaining composure during these swings is essential.
  • Euphoria and Fear: Investing brings excitement in bullish markets and anxiety during downturns. Managing emotions helps in avoiding hasty decisions.
  • Stay Committed: Just as staying seated throughout a roller coaster ride ensures you experience the full thrill, sticking to a long-term investment strategy is crucial amid short-term market volatility.


7. Diversification: “Eating A Balanced Diet”

Diversification in investing is like maintaining a balanced diet. Just as a body needs different nutrients from various food groups, a portfolio also needs a mix of different assets.

  • Variety of Foods: A balanced diet includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Similarly, a diversified portfolio includes stocks, bonds, real estate, and other asset classes.
  • Getting The Right Nutrition: Each food group serves a different purpose for your health, just as each asset class contributes differently to your portfolio’s performance.
  • Risk Management: Eating a variety of foods minimizes health risks, while diversifying investments minimizes financial risk.

8. Portfolio Rebalancing: “Tuning Your Guitar”

Rebalancing an investment portfolio is akin to tuning a guitar. Like a guitar that can drift out of tune over time, your portfolio may deviate from its original allocation due to market fluctuations.

Regularly tuning a guitar ensures each string produces the right note, creating harmonious music rather than discordant sounds. Similarly, rebalancing your portfolio maintains alignment with your financial objectives, time horizon, and risk tolerance, thereby sustaining intended performance and balance.

  • Initial Tuning: Setting up a portfolio is like tuning a guitar to achieve the perfect pitch, ensuring all chords harmonize with the song being played (long-term goals).
  • Ongoing Tuning: Just as instruments need periodic tuning to maintain accuracy, a portfolio requires regular rebalancing to stay in rhythm with long-term goals.
  • Consistent Performance: Regular tuning results in beautiful music, mirroring how portfolio rebalancing supports consistent performance aligned with a client's risk tolerance and financial goals.


  1. "Why Images and Analogies Work So Well: The Science Behind It" - CITIZENS FOR PICTURE ROCKS


This communication is general in nature and provided for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be considered or relied upon as legal, tax or investment advice or an investment recommendation, or as a substitute for legal or tax counsel. Any investment products or services named herein are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered an offer to buy or sell, or an investment recommendation for, any specific security, strategy or investment product or service. Always consult a qualified professional or your own independent financial professional for personalized advice or investment recommendations tailored to your specific goals, individual situation, and risk tolerance. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes only.

Information contained in the materials included is believed to be from reliable sources, but no representations or guarantees are made as to the accuracy or completeness of information. This document is provided for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice.

Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc. is a Registered Investment Adviser and Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services and securities offered through Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc.