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The Agile Financial Planner

Sep 23, 2019

Think for just a moment about the typical way we planners and advisors engage our clients in the financial planning process. If they aren’t number people who really like the details, they are likely bored out of their minds every single time they sit down with us. Right?

As well, the things we require them to go through to give us the data we are convinced we need in order to help them are as painful as a root canal without novocaine. Seriously, it is. 

We’ve got to fix that if we’re going to have an amazing practice that serves amazing people by helping them achieve an amazing lifestyle. This episode is about that.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:42] The problems in the financial planning industry you need to solve
  • [2:01] Help I need from you about building a powerful financial planning practice
  • [3:12] Walk with me through the typical financial planning process
  • [12:00] How financial planning is like the Waterfall project management process

For a long time, I was part of the financial planning industry’s problem

I don’t talk much about my background - mainly because I don’t think it’s always relevant to what I’m talking about today. But this time, it is. I’ve been a professional in the financial planning industry for 27 years. In that time I’ve worked at a brokerage firm, at a major investment bank, I’ve owned a large RIA, and am now a single practitioner.

I’ve seen it all - and I’ve done it all - and I’ve come to discover that we are doing it wrong.

Look at the painful process we put our clients through

When you were taught to work with clients, you learned a step by step system for doing financial planning. Let’s look at the steps:

  • Establish rapport
  • Identify goals
  • Identify resources available
  • Provide analysis
  • Present options to clients (there's almost always a gap they need to fill)

That’s our typical approach, right? If we take a moment to put ourselves into the shoes of our clients, we’ll come to understand that the process we’re using is not fun. In fact, it’s painful - and the recommendations we give to our clients are limited.

One of the financial planning problems we need to fix is the solutions we offer

After we do our assessment for a client, what do we tell them they need to do? We tell them that they need to do something painful if they want to make up for the gap between what they currently have in place and what they want their future to be. Here are the typical options:

Save more money (which often costs them their present lifestyle)

Work longer (How many people are eager to do that?) 

Take more investment risk (How comfortable is that?): 

Settle for less later in life (That’s a bummer). 

Or some combination of these.

Honestly, those are ALL sucky choices. No wonder people don’t like to do financial planning.

How do we fix these financial planning problems?

Full disclosure: I’m not going to give you the answers on this episode. But I am going to help you think through why we have to do the following two things:

1 - Streamline the financial planning process, and...

2 - Make it engaging and inspiring so we can collaborate with clients and enjoy the process

I’m not the only financial planner out there who makes this a primary objective in working with my clients - so don’t hear me saying I’m the only one doing things this way. But I am here to tell you that if you are willing to make these two objectives front and center for you and your clients, you’ll be able to build a practice that serves amazing people in a way that helps them create an amazing life. Keep listening. There’s more to come.

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