'Life planning is an unprofitable, idealist movement that can only result in fewer clients'. Couldn't be more wrong, says George Kinder.
The pioneer of the life planning model and founder of the Massachusetts-based Kinder Institute of Life Planning, now enjoying an extended stay in the UK, attended the IFP Conference in Wales earlier this week.
According to the Institute, life planning focuses on the 'human side' of financial planning: "In life planning we discover a client's deepest and most profound goals through a process of structured and non-judgmental inquiry".
He spoke to Professional Adviser.
How does a financial planner become a life planner?
"The truth is so many people are finding a way to do it. The advantages UK financial advisers have is they bring to the table an understanding of financial products and systems. For years they have been caring about their clients.
"The people skills can come naturally or you can get training, and the training can be very precise. My recommendation would be for them to learn the processes of a life planning interview."
How can firms 'sell' life planning as a concept?
"They should let the client know that, because of regulation and the study they have done, they are now approaching the world of finance in a very different way. The fundamental thing is to make sure the services and products you deliver fulfil the dreams and aspirations of your clients.
"You should let them know that is your passion now, that is what you care about and are excited about. As a result, your business model is using some new, different exercises to identify your goals.
"You say: 'I'd love to do this with you, and you are likely to find it all very exciting yourself but, by having these discussions with you, I will be able to more accurately fine tune what the right mix of services and products are for you."
Is life planning a genuine alternative for firms used to a different model?
"You sometimes get some cynicism about this, and it usually means the adviser is scared of doing things in a new way, and worried about having a genuine relationship with their clients. That's really the issue. Every culture feels a bit nervous as they begin to shift because this has been a sales culture for a very long time.
"Is there anything less appropriate for a human being than to be sold a financial product when in fact finance is so critical to so many aspects of their lives? It is critical for their health, family, retirement. What on Earth are we doing in sales? It is ludicrous. There will be people who cling to the old model.
"The consumer does not realise there is any honest way to do the financial work. They do not trust us. We say: 'yes there is'. We're going to do this with transparency, integrity, using the simplicity and elegance of financial models and we're going to really listen to you for the first time.
"We are going to deliver what you care about most in life. As a consumer, which one are you going to choose? We have an opportunity here to brand something exceptional."
George Kinder is the founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning. Find out more HERE.
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