The last taboo isn’t sex – it’s money. Although we may think that our clients speak openly with us about money, the subject often has deeper, more emotional ties that make it difficult to share.
A financial life planning approach can be valuable in bridging this gap and helping clients develop a more satisfying and successful relationship with money.
Financial life planning is an emerging, holistic approach that helps clients understand and articulate what is important to them in life and how this translates to their financial goals. A life planning approach examines what clients want to accomplish in the short- and long-term, what drives their financial decision-making, and how their background and experience influence their feelings about money. For example, we may believe that tax efficiency drives a client’s financial decisions, but the reality is that these decisions are often driven by family, legacy and other more personal factors.
A good advisor will help clients articulate what they want or need – a great advisor will help a client get to the root of what is important to them. A key step in the life planning process is to translate this understanding into concrete language and quantitative, measurable data that is valuable for the financial planning process.
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We often assume that clients understand our financial world and its lexicon. Rather than admitting their lack of financial knowledge or understanding, clients may defer to professional advice rather than connect through more tangible life goals. This is often coupled with our natural bias as advisors to impose our beliefs and experiences on the solutions offered to clients.