Guest post:”Using Story Telling to Educate Clients and Prospects”

Plenty of financial advisors write books to enhance their credibility. However, I don’t know many who have written fiction in their pursuit of a broader audience. In his guest post, Chuck Rylant explains why he turned to telling stories to reach clients and prospects. You may want to consider something similar for a blog post or presentation.

Using Story Telling to Educate Clients and Prospects

By Chuck Rylant

Getting and keeping your readers’ attention is incredibly difficult when you’re competing with thousands of messages from multiple media sources. It is even more difficult when you’re writing about a topic often considered dry and boring.

We in the financial planning industry often find mutual funds, interest rates and tax laws intriguing, but our clients and those who need our services often do not. Before I wrote my personal finance book, I thought long and hard how I could share a message that would stick.

I decided to take a lesson from the bestselling book of all times—the Bible—with claims of 6 million sold. It’s hard to argue with those kinds of numbers.

Regardless if you follow a faith or not, most know the story of Adam and Eve. We have all heard about the forbidden fruit and the message of temptation. We remember the lesson because it’s told as a parable.

Do you think we would remember those lessons as well if they were written as a list of rules to follow? There is such a list, but I suspect more people know the forbidden fruit lesson than can cite the list of 10. It’s far easier to become engaged and remember the lesson if it is presented as a story.

One of my more popular blog posts is a true story about my first experience in Mexico where I illustrate a point through a kidnapping. Stories can be presented as truth or fiction and have the same impact.

I used to take pride in the fact that I never read fiction, until I realized I was missing a powerful way to improve my own writing. It is certainly a skill that takes time to learn and improves with practice, but try it and watch how much more engaged your readers become.

Chuck Rylant, MBA, CFP® is the author of How to be Rich: The Couple’s Guide to a Rich Life Without Worrying About Money available at

7 replies
  1. Susan Weiner, CFA
    Susan Weiner, CFA says:


    Thank you for sharing your approach with my readers!

    The kind of stories you tell on your blog and in your book would also be effective in speeches and one-on-one meetings. In fact, some advisors may have already developed stories for those situations that they could benefit from putting into writing.

  2. Joe Callinan
    Joe Callinan says:

    This was a great article!

    I completely agree that the best way to share a complicated message is through the use a storie. If you ever listen to a great presenter (Steve Jobs, ect..), you’ll notice that they ALWAYS use this approach in their presentations. Unfortunately, it’s also an approach that takes more time. Don’t be lazy, turn your message into a story!

  3. Robert Hagedorn
    Robert Hagedorn says:

    Saint Augustine couldn’t do it. But can YOU explain what kind of fruit Adam and Eve ate in the story? Think, read, and give the real explanation based only on the facts in the story. No guesses, opinions, or beliefs. We’ve already had way too many of these. Treat the whole thing as a challenge. But first, do a quick Internet search: First Scandal.

  4. Steve
    Steve says:

    Nice article and a good point about reading fiction! It seems that many professions that rely on science and numbers tend to have that as a weakness among its members. Read more stories = tell better stories.

    (Not to nitpick, but according to the NY Times article here, the bible sells 25 million per year, which probably means uncounted hundreds of millions have either been sold or given away. Not sure where 6 million comes from in the article above.)

  5. Chuck Rylant
    Chuck Rylant says:

    Thanks Steve, you make a great point.

    I looked for and found a lot of conflicting data on the actual number of bible sales. You are correct that the number is not well known for a couple of reasons. The obvious is that when it was first written they were not tracking sales as well as today 🙂

    The second was the point you make which is how many are actually sold versus given away. For book sales to really count towards the big lists, such as the NY Times, they have to be sold through retail such as Amazon, etc.

    I think we can all agree that it is a pretty popular book though 🙂

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