As a follow-up to my last blog, “Dick Wagner and the Need to Understand Clients’ Attitudes About Money,” and a prequel to my upcoming column in the May issue of Investment Advisor (both of which are based on my conversations with prominent financial planners about the impact that the late Richard “Dick” Wagner had on the profession and their careers), I was finally able to catch up with George Kinder.
Those of you who know him will also know that’s no easy feat: As the founder and driving force of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning, George divides his time between Massachusetts, Hawaii, the U.K. and traveling around the world. When George slowed down long enough to have a telephone conversation, he was in Spain conducting a mindfulness retreat. In his spare time, George wrote “The Seven Stages of Money Maturity,” “Lighting the Torch: The Kinder Method of Life Planning” and “Life Planning for You”: All three books are considered classics in the field.
In case you’re new to the industry, life planning is about using sound financial planning to help people to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. As the Kinder Institute website puts it: “Life planning connects the dots between our financial realities and the lives we long to live.” At present, there are some 2,500 trained life planners in 30 countries.
“I don’t think that life planning as we or I know it would exist if it weren’t for Dick,” George told me. “Coaching and psychology would have brought something to financial planning, [but] nothing like there is now. His passion for creating a profession, as spelled out in his famous Journal of Financial Planning article, ‘To Think Like a CFP,’ influenced people not only all over the country, but all over the world. What’s more, Dick played the political game in ways I never did. Without that presence on committees and at the top of organizations, the word wouldn’t have gotten out.”
Wagner had served as president and chairman of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the old International Association for Financial Planning, was a national committee member and president of the old Institute of Certified Financial Planners, and served on countless other committees at both organizations and their successor, the Financial Planning Association.