A financial calculator can be one of the best investments an advisor can make. I purchased an HP 12c financial calculator when I opened my practice in 1985. Now, I have an app on my iPhone that functions the same way. It’s called HP 12c lite.

This little calculator has closed many sales for me and it is an excellent prospecting tool. Try this: Ask a prospect what average returns they have been getting for the last 10 years. Their first answer will almost always be, “I don’t know.” Shocking!

It is beyond my comprehension that anyone would not know, to the decimal point, what his or her earnings are. Can you imagine someone not knowing their salary for their job? Preposterous! However, many seem to be unaware of their actual returns and their potential returns elsewhere. If they are averaging 10 percent and you may be able to improve that by 5 percent per year, the difference is staggering.

My investment advisor has averaged over 19 percent net of fees and expenses, so I am confident that he can beat most competitors by at least 5 percent. On \$100,000 over a 20-year period, the difference would be \$265,000. I’m sure any prospect could use an extra \$265,000. With a financial calculator, you can show them what they are missing in real dollars.

Here’s the discussion you could have with a prospect: “How much has your current advisor earned each year for the last 10 years?” If they don’t have an advisor, ask how much they have earned each year on their own. After they give you a number, ask, “Would you like to explore how you may be able to increase your earnings by 5 percent per year? Five percent doubles the total value of your account in just 15 years. Does that interest you?”

If it doesn’t interest them, they aren’t a prospect.

Of course, if you don’t have a way of accomplishing the target, find one. It also works on smaller differences. There are 5-year Multi-Year Guarantee Annuities available at 3.35 percent. Since interest rates on 5-year CDs are only 1.5 percent locally, I can offer a 1.85 percent difference. Over the 5-year period, that difference generates more than \$9,500 in additional earnings on a \$100,000 deposit.

Your financial calculator is a quick reference tool. When you only talk about the percentage of difference and not an actual number, the prospect has no concrete evidence in real dollars. You want to make it real. When he sees real numbers, he can see the difference. A financial calculator on your smartphone can make you very smart indeed.

Our prospects are not accustomed to spectacular offers. We shouldn’t be surprised when they get excited over seemingly small advantages. We can show how these advantages over time can make a real difference and help them get excited over what we can do for them.

Also, don’t get caught up with spreadsheets. They are formal and require a formal presentation. The financial calculator is a quick pocket guide that can really catch a prospect’s interest by surprise. You can prove everything later along with appropriate disclaimers and disclosures. Compliance will require you to disclose if you offer certain returns, so don’t offer; just discuss the possibilities if you could do it.

In the above examples you can see where the prospects will be very intrigued by the reality of a different direction. There is a series of questions that were taught to me by famous author, salesman and motivational speaker Judge Ziglar many years ago. I still use this today: “Can you see how you might be able to have an additional \$9,500 in five years? Would you like to have an additional \$9,500? If you were going to start earning toward an additional \$9,500 when, in your opinion, is the best time to start?”

Hopefully they will say, “Right now.”