What is the future of Financial Planning now that so many advisers have shifted to remote working? Does remote working destroy the human interaction which is a key part of Financial Planning?
A year ago, I didn’t know if our training company could make the switch to online platforms.
Kinder Institute of Life Planning is known for experiential education in delivering financial advisers and their clients into their dreams of freedom. The EVOKE® Life Planning method is based on the premise that advisers should first discover a client’s most essential, even most profound, goals in life before formulating a financial plan, so a client’s finances fully support those goals.
This may sound elementary but few of us spontaneously undertake a thoughtful inquiry into our deepest and most enduring values and objectives. Our advisers are trained to ask such questions and, just as important, listen to their clients’ answers. They therefore become a partner in clarifying and achieving their clients’ most meaningful and deeply felt aspirations. We call it Life Planning because what’s truly important isn’t your money, it’s your life.
It would seem obvious that these Life Planning conversations should happen in person where the adviser has their client’s full attention and can best read their emotions and body language. It’s the way I had done it for 30 years as a practicing Financial Planner and tax adviser.
Yet when the reality of pivoting to an online training model was the only option, I recalled the emotion I felt during a tribute to our late trainer, Ed Jacobson, with dozens of planners on Zoom. I felt the sentiment being experienced by the many advisers as they shared stories of Ed’s wisdom and mentorship. It was powerful. So powerful that I was convinced that not only could client-adviser relationships be forged online but that in some ways it could be a superior option.
For the past 11 months, Kinder Institute of Life Planning’s training curriculum has been administered online via Zoom under the leadership of Master Trainer Louis Vollebregt. It works brilliantly. We’ve now trained hundreds of advisers online in the Life Planning method and proven that meaningful communication starts with the planner being intentional about being present no matter the setting.
In an ever-changing world more and more reliant on technology, advisers must develop the skills to connect with their clients in significant ways through online platforms.
When we get through this pandemic together, I am confident that many advisers will employ a mix of in-person and online engagements with their clients. What’s important is that the adviser chooses to learn the skills that will make their online client meetings just as powerful as the connection felt during in-person meetings.
This isn’t the end of human interaction in financial services, but it is a call to action – to truly be a fiduciary to our clients we must become proficient at creating exceptional client experiences in online environments.
George Kinder, CFP®, RLP®, is the founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning and designer of trainings for client-adviser relationship skills. His new book, A Golden Civilization and the Map of Mindfulness is available now.