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What is the purpose of Touchstone Pathway?

The purpose of Touchstone Pathway is threefold.

  1. To provide easy access to important client information, especially during a client meeting, to save you time and money.
  2. To elegantly translate client values, goals, motivations, and strategies into firm guidelines in order to facilitate a more informed financial decision-making process.
  3. To compare client goals and actual actions to achieve these goals against financial planning best practices and prevailing rules and regulations, in order to guide advisors and their clients along their optimal pathway.

How does Touchstone Pathway achieve its purpose?

Integrate with top Client Relationship Management systems to import data already available. No redundant data entry required.


We’ve created an ever-expanding set of surveys to help you learn your clients’ important values, what issues or opportunities they are facing now or may be facing in the future, their goals and aspirations, motivations and strategies for goal accomplishment on various financial planning topics. Advisors can customize these survey templates or create their own.


Results are displayed in a user-friendly client dashboard for easy access and updating. Advisors and clients will collaborate in real time on what is working and what is not to understand what adjustments may be called for.

How many survey types are there and how do I use them to best effect?

There are three survey types: Discovery, Category Card Game, and Topic.

  • Discovery Surveys are high-level surveys that are meant to quickly understand what a client’s primary topics of interest are. Depending on how a client answers a question, a more detailed Topic survey may be triggered. Advisors can easily customize which Topic surveys are triggered when.
  • Category Card Games are set up like an online solitaire game. Drag and drop ‘cards’ into ‘buckets’ to quickly determine a client’s value, priorities, focus, etc. Advisors can customize the cards and buckets to make them uniquely their own.
  • Topic Surveys are more detailed topical surveys that delve into a client’s interest areas. Topic survey questions can be categorized into:
      • Goals (your clients’ desired outcomes)
      • Touchstones (your clients’ motivations and beliefs)
      • Pathways (your clients’ strategies and action plans
    • Completed surveys are displayed using these three categories.
    • As with other survey types, advisors can easily customize survey questions and their associated categories.

Help me understand what a Touchstone is in basic terms.

Touchstones are the beliefs & motivations behind client goals. It is their why. Why does Clarence want to save $10,000 for each of his children’s weddings? Because he wants the day his children declare commitment to their partners to be memorable and stress-free.

Help me understand what a Pathway is in basic terms.

Pathways are the strategies and action plans that articulate how a client will achieve their goals. How will Clarence achieve his children’s Wedding Goal? He will save $250/month until he reaches his stated goal. If his children set a wedding date before the goal is reached, he will dip into his emergency fund.

How are effective "Touchstones" and "Pathways" created within Touchstone Pathway?

We recommend the following:

    1. Gain an understanding of client values, goals, aspirations. This can be accomplished by assigning Touchstone Pathway surveys to clients.
    2. Using your clients’ values, goals, and aspirations as a guide, select desired surveys from the ever-growing list of Touchstone templates or create your own.
    3. Test-drive completed Touchstones with clients to confirm they resonate.

As an advisor, how do I begin using Touchstone Pathway?

  1. Input client data or import data from your CRM.
  2. Select and send pre-made surveys to clients or customize surveys to make them uniquely your own.
  3. After the client completes the survey, advisors can edit and/or fill in any remaining blanks or text as desired.
  4. Reference the client Dashboard to view completed Goals, Touchstones, and Pathways and prepare for client meetings. Watch surveys populate as your clients complete them!

What quantifiable elements does an effective Touchstone question have?

  1. Written in specific, quantifiable terms, including names, $ amounts, timelines, desired outcomes, etc. whenever possible.
  2. Describes course of action in terms of goals and aspirations.
  3. Written in client-centered language to keep clients committed to goal attainment.
  4. Written in general terms to remain valid throughout the passage of time, as circumstances change.
  5. Written in clear terms to provide an obvious path through daily noise and distractions.
  6. Written as decision rules to help clients remain true to their values (what is important to them) and achieving their heartfelt Financial and Life Planning aspirations and goals.
  7. When choosing content for survey questions, think about decisions that need to be made more than once and/or goals that may otherwise be difficult to achieve given the client’s pre-existing thought patterns.

How do I know which surveys to start with?

Surveys are best used in high priority areas of a client’s financial life: their greatest struggle or central need. If the client doesn’t perceive a priority focus area, a survey may not resonate as well.


We recommend you start with the Values “Category Card Game”, which will highlight what your clients find important. Other “Category Card Game” topics include the Satisfaction and Transitions surveys. These give an advisor a quick power read on what clients are thinking and going through.


The Initial Client “Discovery” survey is also a good place to start. This survey highlights which planning topics clients are currently most interested in. Depending on the client’s answers in the Discovery survey, Touchstone Pathway will trigger the more detailed Topic surveys, which clients will take at their convenience.

Are some Pathways more important than others?

Absolutely. The most important Pathways are the ones that are most critical to the client in achieving their primary goals and aspirations. If a new client is preparing for retirement and has saved enough already, you may choose to focus on a “Safe Withdrawal Pathway” instead of, “How much do I need to save for a ‘quality’ retirement.”

After my client has completed surveys and identified Goals, what is the best way for them and/or I to use Touchstone Pathway?

A central element of the Client’s Dashboard is “The Big Picture,” which takes all of a client’s completed Topic surveys and exhibits them together, sorted by Goals, Touchstones, and Pathways. As previously mentioned, Goals remind us what the client wants to accomplish. Touchstones can be referenced as circumstances change, whether that means a changing market or an unexpected life event, to remind us why a client cares about a goal. What are the client’s motivations and beliefs about a goal? Pathways remind us how a client plans to achieve their goals. Pathways are expressed in quantifiable terms and are a good reference point as circumstances change. Advisors can communicate to clients what their Pathways indicate instead of calling them to figure out what action to take next.

Are there other times, besides when circumstances are changing, that Touchstone Pathway can benefit me?

Absolutely! Advisors will use completed surveys: Goals, Touchstones, and Pathways, to easily prepare for client meetings. Touchstone Pathway acts as a repository for important client information. Touchstone Pathway contains your clients’ important demographic and psychographic information such as client job/career statistics, children’s names and ages, account information, balances, estate document details, insurance details, aspirations, and goals. Knowing and discussing these critical details are what separates Advisors from online-only financial tools — and Touchstone Pathway makes this information easily actionable.

How will I know when/if my client no longer needs a particular Touchstone?

Sometimes the answer is straightforward, such as when a child graduates from college. The College Education Savings Goal is no longer needed. Retirement Savings Goals will naturally give way to Retirement Spending Goals as the client nears retirement. Other times, the answer is more of a judgement call. If a client doesn’t want more than five primary Goals and their corresponding Touchstones and Pathways, a life event may occur that necessitates some juggling. For example, a Long-Term Care Goal may suddenly be more important than the Charitable Giving Goal due to the illness of a client or parent.

Is Touchstone Pathway meant for all of my clients?

If a client is coming to you strictly for investment services, an Investment Policy Statement will typically suffice. However, if a client is seeking Financial Planning services, they will benefit from utilizing Touchstone Pathway. If a client has expressed goals to you — there’s an opportunity for a Touchstone and a Pathway.

Will I be able to filter out the people I don’t need when I import contacts from my CRM?

You will be able to delete records from inside Touchstone Pathway, but depending on your CRM it may be easier to filter down to applicable clients prior to import.

What if my clients aren’t interested in taking surveys?

The client’s involvement level in Touchstones is at the discretion of the advisor. The client may need some encouragement to take the initial surveys and see the benefit over time. Surveys can be completed by the client and advisor together in a meeting depending on individual preferences.

I have 4000 contacts in my CRM between family members, companies, vendors, and clients. Who should I import?

Advisors have the ability to pick and choose which contact types they would like to import. Typically, advisors only import active clients to start, but you can import anyone you would like to create accounts for.

Will I be able to filter out the people I don’t need when I import contacts from my CRM?

You will be able to delete records from inside Touchstone Pathway, but depending on your CRM, it may be easier to filter down to applicable clients prior to import.

If Touchstone Pathway doesn’t integrate with my other software—how do I take financial information into account?

Touchstone Pathway’s questionnaires have a section for action items. Depending on the survey, clients will answer questions about how they are saving. However, to avoid duplication and asking clients to enter financial information that their advisors may already have access to, these questions are limited in scope. When using this version of Touchstone Pathway, we suggest using other systems separately to complement Touchstone Pathway. We are working on integrations with various financial planning software tools to reduce data entry and improve our value add.

Can I fill out Touchstone Pathway surveys in person with my clients?

Yes. By clicking “Answer Now,” in the online app, you are able to select individual client profiles and complete the questionnaires together. Questionnaires are written to be answered by the client alone and without any surrounding bias, but we understand that it might not be the ideal fit for every client. When completing questionnaires together, be sure to encourage clients to be honest with themselves in order to reap the full benefits of the program.

Can I send questionnaires to multiple people in the same family?

Yes. Questionnaires will be sent automatically to the email address of Client 1, but that can be changed during the email preview. Clients may also request separate questionnaires for certain policies that are more individual in nature.

What if I don’t like a certain question—can I customize what my clients see?

Absolutely. Touchstone Pathway is built to customize. Advisors can modify any template or create a custom survey and save it as their own. When modifying initial Discovery surveys, be aware of the trigger feature and make sure the correct Topic surveys are triggered.

How do I get started? What is involved to begin using Touchstone Pathway?

Touchstone Pathway has a short onboarding process with more customizations available in Settings. Advisors can add clients manually, import client data directly from their CRM, or export a .CSV file from their CRM and use it during setup. Email one or a few surveys to each client as desired. Completed surveys will start appearing in client detail pages automatically. Easy!

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