I never understood how one could call oneself an adviser and not put the client’s interests first. In those days many of us thought we had started a revolution that would sweep across financial services because we were doing what was right.
It was exhilarating to see the growth of the movement and the respect it engendered. In the ‘80s it seemed all the financial advice articles were quoting practitioners and best practices coming from these movements. And Financial Planning (if not fee-only advice) were spread all across the globe, touching or creating the best practitioners on every continent.
I was privileged to be part of that global movement, as I introduced a new branch to it called Life Planning, which explicitly puts the clients dreams and aspirations first with a conversation/relationship methodology called EVOKE. With practitioners in 30 countries on all continents outside Antarctica, in Life Planning we have a saying: Model Integrity and Deliver Freedom.
So, I was stunned when the banking crisis was revealed to arise from massive fraud and malfeasance in financial product sales. Where was the advice? How could clients have possibly been placed first? Clearly, they couldn’t have. Had the thirty-year history of Financial Planning, 25 of fee-only, and 15 of Life Planning completely failed?
Personally, I was shook up. What on earth had I been doing? How naïve could I have been? Facing the power of product companies, was it naïve and does it continue to be naïve to think we could change the industry, delivering the trust to consumers that they both call out for and that we wish to deliver? Or would the power of the industry always overwhelm the markets toward profits and sales? If Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon could grow to near monopoly size market control almost overnight, why haven’t the consumer movements in Financial Planning done the same thing?
I began writing. At one point the book had mushroomed to 1,400 pages, with charts, surveys, facts and statistics when I realised it wasn’t me, and I pared the whole book down to its essence, about 90 pages. I spun off one book and a consumer website out of it, Life Planning for You. The global crisis in democracy and media exploded in America, Britain and the rest of Europe, shaking many citizens of countries far and wide. Politics had already played a role in my thinking but suddenly I realised that these two crises of economics and democracy were intimately related and had root causes. My book became about those causes.
They stemmed all the way back to the Industrial Revolution and to the thinking of Adam Smith. What if our foundational ideas about civilisation arising out of the Enlightenment were wrong? Not dramatically, perhaps, but just enough to inevitably bring the threat of chaos in the 21st century, with threats to democracy, to earth, threats of war and surveillance, equality and freedoms.
I realised that it was time to Life Plan Civilisation. In EVOKE our primary aim, and the leverage point for our meetings, is an amazing vision, one that so inspires the client that they are filled with Entrepreneurial Spirit to accomplish it, and as a consequence their vision becomes realised, and in short order. What if we did that to civilisation? All of us, together? After all we are a democracy.
Could we vision across the globe in a matter of months, with social media, and then deliver that vision within a generation so our children live in ‘A Golden Civilization,’ which is the title of my book. Its subtitle is ‘A Map of Mindfulness,’ because among my insights was the fairly obvious one, that all our astonishing progress in civilisation over the past 250 years has arisen from our great brains. Perhaps it is time to place an equal or even greater emphasis upon our great hearts.
Perhaps it is time to shift from a self-interest driven economics to one that is driven by self-knowledge. And certainly, it is time to bring our entire focus to maximising the delivery of freedom to all people and a sustainable earth, rather than our focus on maximising dollars and pounds. First the vision. What kind of earth do we want? What do our communities look like, our polity, our connections with each other. It’s time to create that vision now, time to Life Plan Civilisation.
• My book is currently available on Amazon for pre-order. You can visit our website, www.AGoldenCivilization.com to see how we (mostly financial life planners) intend to create a global viral vision over the next year. Or you can wait for my next article in Financial Planning Today!
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 for pre-order and will be released on 4 March, 2019.