Your Financial Planning Process That Supports Client’s Life Goals
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching to mend the part that is within our reach” -- Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Providing comprehensive financial planning services is mandatory for today’s Wealth Management practice.
Financial planning goes beyond software and tools; it’s about making financial decisions that support client’s life goals. Life decisions must be made before financial decisions can be made. You as the financial advisor can make a significant impact on your client’s lives by helping them through the decisions that will help put a level of order into their lives.
As Carl Richards says, Many Americans do not have their financial lives in order because they don’t have their life plans in order. If we don’t know what will make us “happy,” then it’s difficult to make financial decisions that support those goals.
Financial planning is about knowing where you are today, where you want to be at some later point in time, and how you will (or must) behave to get there...
...but financial plans themselves are worthless unless goals are established first.
Your value as a FA is ongoing and continuous. If goals and situations change, plans must change, so the process of financial planning is vital. Essentially, if you put together a plan and it becomes “shelfware” while your life and goals move on, it’s of little value. However, if the plan is re-evaluated on a regular basis—annually or as needed, based on changes—that plan can keep current with the client.
You bring great value to the process by helping your clients establish their life goals as well as their financial goals and by delivering your process on a continuing basis. Help clients understand the realities of finances in context of their lives and the financial markets as time goes on.
Richards says, “No plan will cover every situation—and that’s okay. You don’t have to choose the perfect investment or save exactly the right amount or predict your rate of return or spend hours watching television shows about the stock market or surfing the Internet or stock picks. You don’t need a plan for every contingency.” He asks, “If planning isn’t the solution to our money problems, what is? More simply, what can we do to get what we really want?” He gives us his answers, which are the points advisors need to get across to their clients:
- ...focus on reality, don’t chase fantasies.
- ...protect yourself as much as you can. Risk is what’s left when you think you’ve thought of everything.
- ...assumptions about the future are almost always wrong.
- ...embrace uncertainty.
- ...recognize and seize opportunities when they come up.
- ...decide what you really want and re-ask the question as time moves on. Financial decisions should align with what you know about yourself, your clients, and the world as it changes.
- ...control what you can, like behavior.
- ...frequently validate goals, plans, situations, and assumptions.
- ...behave rationally (or as rationally as possible) and with discipline.
As Mitch Anthony says, “If you want to survive and thrive, your value proposition must move from ROI to ROL (Return on Life)—which means helping your client get the best life they can from the money they have.”
Put money in context of your client’s life. Only humans can satisfy deep interpersonal needs. That’s how close the best advisors get to their best clients.
Financial planning is an on-going process that outlines the direction we hope to go. A plan assumes that you know what’s going to happen—even though you don’t. Surprises are the rule. Bad things happen, but remember, good things also happen. Your value is continually reevaluating your assumptions based on longer term perspectives and your client’s current reality.
Start with a “get organized” meeting with your client because many people are just not organized enough to provide all the information needed to develop a financial plan (Michael Kitces).