Do you want to have greater impact with your clients, create more value, and escape the diminishing world of purely transactional financial advice?
If so, there is an important financial planning question.
But it is not a question to ask your clients. It’s one to ask yourself.
A financial planner client of mine shared a story about a meeting he had with a new potential client.
The client explained how she and her husband had planned to live their lives to the full when they reached their 60’s. Yet, sadly, they never got to live the life they planned because the lady’s husband passed away shortly after his 60th birthday.
After her husband’s passing, she reflected on why they had waited so long to live the life they had so often dreamt about.
I can relate to this story because my own father died in the prime of his life. I was only fourteen years old at the time and I had two younger sisters. My father was a good provider. But he went to work early, came home late, and we didn’t see a lot of him.
If he knew he had so little time left, would he have lived his life in the same way?
I will never know. But what I do know is that a great many of us live as though what truly matters in life can wait until tomorrow.
We assume we will be able to someday catch up on all the important stuff. Like our relationships, our health, our well-being, enjoying nature, time with friends, a favourite pass time, giving back to our community, doing a job we love, or our spiritual growth.
It is easy to forget how much these things mean to us. Especially the people we care about most.
If you need more evidence of this then palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware wrote a best-selling and much talked about book, ‘The top five regrets of the dying’. You can read a short summary of the 5 regrets here.
What is the most important financial planning question of all?
The paradox of financial planning is that it is orientated towards the future, yet life can only be lived now, in the present.
Tomorrow is never guaranteed, is it?
So, the most important financial planning question of all is:
Does my client think, feel, and behave differently, in a beneficial way, as a result of our collaboration?
In other words, how much better is your client’s life NOW?
Planning for the future is an intelligent thing to do. Yet waiting to live the life you want is a huge risk because some people won’t make it.
This moment is the only one we have, so it matters a great deal. Therefore, shouldn’t financial planning include living the life you want NOW as well as the one you want in future?
What’s the point of having money and wealth you are not using it to live the life you want now?
Never under-estimate the value you can create
What if the lady and her husband had been robustly challenged about waiting to live their lives?
What about the same for my father?
Of course, there is no guarantee this would have changed anything but that is not the point.
Why are we often timid about confronting our clients in this way?
Because we fear how someone might react. We make it about us, the self, the ego.
What is the alternative?
Be the one who takes a stand on behalf of your client. Ask the seemingly difficult questions and help them see new possibilities. No one is going to react badly because you want to help them.
P.S. Here is a link to a previous post – ‘Financial planning relationships – how to add massive long-term value’