In July 2020, we asked our clients to complete a survey to help us understand what they valued most about working with Jane Smith Financial Planning.
While we could have guessed at what these might be, we were thrilled that what we thought - and what our clients - said were in fact very closely aligned. We’re clearly on the same page, understanding what our clients want and appreciate from working with the team at Jane Smith Financial Planning.
We’re pleased to say it’s not only our knowledge and expertise that our clients value, or the peace of mind they get from what we do. It’s also the way we take time to understand their situation – in fact, the stand-out quality our clients told us mattered most to them was empathy.
I’m sure many of you will have experienced the same; when I tell people what I do, they often assume a Financial Planner crunches numbers all day. Yes, numbers are essential to Financial Planning. But the experienced Financial Planners among us know that the skill we use most can’t be found in a spreadsheet. It’s in client meetings, asking questions and listening.
If you don’t listen, you don’t know your clients, their dreams, their concerns, and you can’t create a successful financial plan for them. Yes, the job involves technical issues, tax and investment performance. However, more often than not, the decisions a client makes are based on their lifestyle and personality.
Former US President Barack Obama said: “Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”
While we’re not trying to change the world, we’re trying to help change our clients’ worlds for the better. Financial Planning is about translating what they want from life into a tangible way to achieve it.
A key part of that is to encourage clients to open up about what they want, what makes them happy and what worries them – and for us, as their Financial Planner, to understand all of that before planning anything.
In a world where people increasingly talk about AI, data and robo-advice, I truly believe that there will always be a place for individual, bespoke and personalised advice. Yes, we might use technology to help facilitate this, but no machine or tool can replicate empathy. There’s no real replacement for a human being able to listen, empathise and provide reassurance.
Nicola Watts APFS Chartered Financial Planner, Chartered Wealth Manager, CFP Chartered FSCI - director of Jane Smith Financial Planning
After joining the family business in 2000, Nicola qualified to provide advice in 2001, and has been a director of the business since 2006. Since the retirement of her mother (Jane Smith), Nicola bears sole responsibility for the management of the firm, and the advice provided to clients. Nicola is married to David and has two young children, Emily and Olivia, and Poppy the black labrador.