Why We Don’t Use Standardized Tests

A new client visited us recently. Some lifelong friends, who are long-term clients of our firm, had referred them. The new clients had recently gone to a seminar and participated in an online planning process. It’s now very popular for firms to have people take “standardized tests” to determine their planning parameters. The results painted a particularly bleak future for them, including needing to save more money each month than anyone reasonably could in today’s world or suffer the alternative of having to continue to work until they were 76 years old assuming they could keep their jobs, skills, and health for that long. Sometimes I think the firms that do this really believe that fear is a good selling strategy, but it created a perfect time for them to come in for a conversation. We sat down and flipped through their sixteen-page report that had been created from the standardized tests.

Their situation reminded me of sitting with my mother as we met with a surgeon in his offices. “Tell me, Mrs. Musick, how much medication are you taking for your back pain?” My Mom replied, “well sometimes I take a Tylenol, maybe two, if I am really uncomfortable.” The doctor looked down at us over his reading glasses.  “Really?! With these test results, I would have thought you were on something strong at least twice a day. As a surgeon, I never do surgery using JUST an MRI and x-rays. I treat people as a whole. At some point, you will likely need some kind of back surgery, but if you can tolerate the pain using simply Tylenol, then I don’t recommend surgery at this time.” She never had the surgery!


We made a copy of their report. We took that copy, walked the new clients to one of our shredding machines, and ground it up. Turning to them I said, “We never advise clients from just looking at a computer output. What we do as an alternative is to sit with you and work as financial artists to create a future through planning that is exactly you and operates within your circumstances and your resources.”


We then had a more in-depth discussion about how we work. I explained that we work to create health. We do that through service planning built upon solid relationships. We work to operate within reality, not scare tactics. We have the knowledge, skills, and abilities through our independent business model to create a realistic future for our clients and then help them navigate to achieve their future. We harness all of our resources to optimize results. Yes, we use computers for number crunching, but we rule the system, not vice versa. Our technology allows us to customize around the consumer, which is how professional retirement planning should be done.



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