Mind-Mapping: An Aid To Financial Planning Success
Author: Betty J. Zak
We have all heard the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, let’s turn our attention to a mind mapping picture being key to financial planning success and being worth real dollars and cents. Mind mapping has been around since at least the 70s largely through the efforts of Tony Buzan, author and consultant (Bruckenstein, 2008). Yet, it is just over the last 5-10 years that various financial professionals have begun to embrace this technique with amazing success in drawing up a financial plan. Whether you are the financial professional/advisor or the consumer, mind-mapping can help increase an understanding of the complete financial picture (2007).
A mind map is a visual presentation of thinking by using lines, colors, characters, etc. to associate concepts to a central idea (2012). In general, the result often looks much like a tree with various branches or as I like to call it, the central nervous system as it radiates throughout the human body to all essential parts. This technique capitalizes on using the linear thinking of the left side of the brain and the non-linear/creative thinking of the right side of the brain to draw a financial picture (Squire-Ryan, 2010).
What is Mind Mapping’s Role in Financial Planning?
Research results at the University of Sheffield note that mind maps help “develop a comprehensive understanding of all the key concepts involved in a subject area…” It goes on to state that it represents the “combined stakeholder knowledge in an easily accessible format…” (Meier, 2007, p. 47). Certainly, the financial professional as well as the consumer are both stakeholders as they develop a comprehensive understanding of needs and desires. Capturing and representing the information in a non-linear way results in a visual representation allowing for a shared understanding of the picture; it becomes the foundation for further expansion. View an example of a financial mind-map at http://investmentwriting.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Client-mind-map-A-B-2-8-11-2.jpeg (Murguia, 2012, para. 6).
This means that instead of gathering information and going back into the office to later draft a linear product document for discussion, the financial professional is moving some of the back-office activity into the front office/the home of the consumer. This technique captures the information necessary to move through the financial lifecycle and gives the consumer easily visual proof and confidence that the finance person understands the situation (Murgia, 2012).
While mind mapping itself is a tool, computer programs can assist. However, becoming comfortable with the concept and doing it manually is relatively easy and is the recommended first step for the finance person. Only then search for computer tools. Some are free and give the user a wonderful feeling for how a tool can help capture the ideas and information. I have used a few of the free computer tools and have found that they provide the essentials and can get you started to see how you wish to grow this technique. For a list and review of tools, even free ones, see https://www.fa-mag.com/news/mind-mapping-1874.html?section=2&page=3 or perform a simple search for product reviews.
So, can a picture can be worth a thousand words? Well, perhaps the recent merging of mind mapping and financial planning can result in just that picture that could be worth much more. By creating the map, stakeholders take ownership of the picture and “see” that those views are a driving force for future deliberation. As a financial professional, this relatively new approach is something to think about to help in communicating ideas and to help grow the business. As a consumer, this financial picture could be worth so much more than words…real dollars and cents.
Bruckenstein, J. (2008). Mind mapping. Retrieved from http://www.fa-mag.com/component/content/article/1875.html?magazineID=1&issue=91&Itemid=73
Buzan, T. (2012). Mind mapping. Retrieved from http://www.mind-mapping.co.uk/mind-mapping-definition.htm
Murguia, A. (2012). Investment writing. Retrieved fromhttp://investmentwriting.com/2011/08/why-mind-map-with-clients
Squire-Ryan, K. (2010, October). Map your mind around this. Training&Development in Australia.
Betty Zak is Lead Faculty/Area Chair for the College of Humanities and Subject Matter Expert for Personal Finance at the University of Phoenix. She also provides consulting services in personal finance, education, business and systems applications thru her company, Betty Zak, LLC.