They love that you are going to put all your expertise to work to create a financial plan that supports them.
But the main thing they want is for the work that you're doing to deliver them into the life of their dreams.
I think of Life Planning as great Financial Planning. It’s the complete package. By adopting a Life Planning approach, advisers can deliver their financial acumen to clients in the most efficient and comprehensive way - by putting their clients’ lives first, rather than their money.
Source: Kinder Institute of Life Planning
The Financial Life Planner has all the skills of the traditional Financial Planner, but they know that the financial work does not come first in building a relationship. They need a full picture of the aspirations of their client before they can appropriately dive into the numbers.
Think about it! How on earth can you advise on how the money will be allocated, what sophisticated risk management methods to use, what tax techniques are necessary without knowing who the person is and where they really want to go? A Life Planner’s passion is delivering their clients into their dreams of freedom, not showing off specialty products.
Our EVOKE Life Planning process offers a framework for discovering these passions and it starts with the first meeting.
Rather than opening the meeting with their credentials and how much they have in common with their client, a Life Planner begins with an open-ended question and then listens, deeply.
What happens next seems like pure magic! The client gets to star in their own movie. They watch the film of their life unfold as they speak of the highs and lows of a great epic tale. It’s an incredible experience for both client and planner.
This can’t happen by talking all the time. It happens by listening in a way that is empathic wherever there is a struggle and is joyful when the client shares excitement.
What a wonderful friend you've become! Out pour the secrets, the deepest longings, now that the client feels your connection with them.
Once you've created that heartfelt bond, you’re able to inspire your client by painting a vision of their life using their words. I call it “lighting the torch.” We promise the torch within a relatively short timeframe - rarely as much as three years, more often six months to a year and a half. It’s a timeframe that the adviser feels is possible with energy and application and perhaps some sacrifices.
Putting in a timeframe that is extraordinarily exciting, and somewhat anxiety-inducing at the same time, delivers an energy that captures the passion of the client to live the life they’ve always wanted to live.
This vision is an opportunity to help them see that their longings are worthwhile and completely possible. The client will feel that you’re on their side and that you see their life as special.
You encourage them by saying, “we're going to make your life happen. Just the way you want it to happen.” What an incredible thing to hear from your adviser, from anyone really! How many people have ever said that to you? I've only ever heard it from Life Planners.
Because we don’t experience this deep listening from everyone, because we often feel alone in our longings, hearing someone believe in them in this way stirs something inside the client that causes them to begin to move on their dreams. They become solution-oriented and come up with creative ways for overcoming any hurdles in their way.
With the client moving, now comes the financial plan to support all their brilliant desires - efficient, effective, and perfectly-aligned with their trajectory.
George Kinder, CFP, RLP, is the founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning and designer of training for client-adviser relationship skills.