If prospective clients want to talk about what the market is doing every hour, then we may not be the financial planning firm for them. There is something way more important to start the conversation with. We want to talk about our client’s family and their background.
When we think about money, let’s be honest – we’re not talking about just money, but also a host of related consequences and deeply felt emotions. Sometimes, we have many baby-boomer clients and we spend more time trying to help them talk to their elderly parents and their adult children about money. It’s all about aligning a person’s values with their financial planning. This is the essence of financial life planning.
In past, we have advised clients not to sit their elderly mother down and start talking about where the cheque book is or what’s happening to her money days after their father (her lifelong partner) died. The point of this example is that before talking about financial specifics, we feel financial advisors need to appreciate that clients want to talk about their goals and life experiences.
We are in a unique position as financial advisors. People often tell us things they don’t tell anyone else. We can see the dynamics between our clients, their parents and their children, and we need to encourage communication between our clients and their family members. As a society, we have to start talking to each other. This is often difficult, especially when the topic is money.
Northern River Financial has a process designed around a series of questions that draws out clients’ feelings, their goals, and what they want their legacy to be. We specialize in life planning and integrating financial goals into the financial life plan.
We have seen more interest in financial life planning since the financial crisis because financial advisors are trying a new approach that brings more value to their clients. Asking probing questions nurtures a deeper relationship between the advisor and their clients.
An alternative strategy is too start by appreciating the concept of storytelling. Advisors should encourage their clients to start by telling stories among family members; ask parents what the economy was like when they were young and then graduate to talk about money. Tell your clients to appreciate the efforts their parents made in life and then thank them.
From a financial perspective, there is more to planning than the numbers and performance of the stock market. What value does this information have if we don’t understand its value to our clients? It is important to gauge our client’s perspectives towards life and their specific attitude towards their finances. We cannot even begin to offer advice on how to manage their money until we understand them. So yes, it’s not all about the money… it’s about Keeping Life Current.