A few weeks ago, I was in Richmond, VA, for my parent company’s annual advisor conference.
One of the topics that came up several times during the meeting was the idea of where to start our work with people.
People like you.
Traditionally, most financial advisors want to talk about your investments. And only your investments. That’s where their work and advice starts, and unfortunately, that’s where it ends.
There are financial planners out there who will at least take some time to discuss your financial situation beyond your investments. Things like your saving, spending, goals, debts, insurance, and more. And while I believe this is a much better alternative than a sole focus on your investments, it’s not without its drawbacks.
For instance, some financial planners are simply investment advisors in disguise.
They see the financial planning process as really nothing more than an elaborate portfolio or product proposal system. Yep, you guessed it, their portfolio or financial product just happens to always be better than the one you own now.
Or it’s an insurance proposal process where no matter where you are today and where you want to go, you’ll need some permanent life insurance and/or an expensive annuity to get you there.
But I, and many of my colleagues believe there’s a better way.
A better way to not only deliver advice but to also increase the confidence in a positive outcome with your personal finances. And your life.
That’s it. That’s where I believe we start.
Who are you?
What makes you tick?
What’s important to you?
Who is important to you?
What’s your purpose with your money?
Many financial advisors assume that you simply want more money. And maybe that’s true.
But why do you want more money?
What’s the money for?
What if the pursuit of more money keeps you in a job you hate that’s impacting your health or your time with family and friends?
What are the alternatives?
What would you do if you were designing your life from scratch? Starting right now.
I could go on, but I hope you’ll glimpse the rich opportunities in taking some time to explore the role of money in your life.
Now, this isn’t anything woo-woo or new age. I’m not suggesting we hold hands and sing campfire songs together.
In fact, it’s just the opposite.
It’s an attempt at a meaningful exploration and conversation of what’s truly important to you.
For instance, I’ve had this conversation with couples that have been married 25+ years only to have one of them say to the other, “I never knew you felt that way.”
Sometimes, during these conversations, there are tears. Sometimes there’s laughter. Sometimes there’s both.
But at the end of the day, it’s simply having a conversation.
So to wrap up, most financial advisors follow this process with their clients:
Or maybe they introduce some financial planning up-front and it looks more like:
- Financial Planning
And some planning is better than no planning if you ask me.
But I think the best way to work with folks like you is:
- Life planning – who are you and what’s important
- Financial Planning – where are we going and what resources are available
- Investments – this is just a small piece of comprehensive financial planning
- Start over at #1
This approach not only makes your personal financial planning more personal. It also brings rich detail to your goal-setting and decision making and can often identify not just what you want more of, but also what you’d like less of in your life.
In short, it all starts with you and your life, and you should be the centerpiece of any work or advice you receive from a financial advisor.
Both upfront and ongoing.
But as you might guess – or may have experienced – this isn’t how many advisors operate.
I’m trying to change that one client at a time.
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