Friday, 26 May 2017 11:47

Atkinson: Encourage clients to have 'big hairy audacious goals'

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I’m assuming that many of you have been in financial services/planning/advice for many years. It’s easy to get desensitised to the jargon, language and mental constructs that pervade our industry.

I worry that sometimes our clients find that it’s like going to a foreign country and having to engage with a radically different culture.

With exceptions this does not involve a beach, sun, sea and sand. Engaging with the industry tends to involve a language barrier and culture shock. Not exactly appealing.

It’s been great to read and listen to the Financial Wellbeing Book/Podcast as it reminds us that Pensions/ISAs/investing etc is not what ‘it’ is all about. So what are people really wanting? Are we actually answering their big questions?

There is a time and place for investment strategies, risk profiling, and tax planning. However we need to see them as the means – not the goal.


As a Paraplanner the easiest reports to write are those where we know what the client’s real goals are. This might be to fund the lifestyle they want in the future, to make specific gifts, or to have a particular experience.

Too often I think we want to quickly translate these real goals into financial services speak.

Some people do genuinely want capital growth or to mitigate IHT. However I think we need to let people's real world objectives 'breath'.

This is one Paraplanner's plea to let your clients dream big unconstrained dreams and for you to record this. Encourage them to consider having a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)!

Having this information means that we can frame the client's reports better. We can move from mere compliant reports to a product that has meaning because it answers the real questions.

With pension freedoms more people are feeling enabled to set their children on the property ladder - but they still want to enjoy retirement (however they want this to look). We can't answer this well without using cash flow modelling.

I recently prepared a report for a client answering just this question and cash flow powerfully answered (and stress tested) how he could do this.

Words would not have worked. Another client had the same goals but a different financial situation. The cash flow modelling showed that they need to make changes to achieve their goals (or adjust them).

If we just said 'it won't work' that would have been of limited help. Cash flow helps show the 'because' and explore solutions.

We have a great opportunity to use our technical knowledge and skills to help clients move from 'financial prudence' to 'dream lead finance'.

This applies whether your philosophy about money is 'spend it' or 'pass it on'. Let's dream dreams ourselves - have a BHAG!

Get your clients dreaming and show them what's really possible. Write it down and tell your paraplanners.

And Paraplanners, get your clients excited in your reports by pressing on these goals and BHAGs. It'll be hugely rewarding to write - even more so if we see the client's achieve their dreams in the future.


Dan Atkinson FPFS APP ACSI, Head of Technical, Chartered Financial Planner, at EQ Investors


Read 1528 times Last modified on Friday, 26 May 2017 11:51
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