The current crisis offers everybody an opportunity to reflect on why they do things. Here, Chris Budd discusses how the coronavirus pandemic is making people feel thankful for the things they value...
The World Health Organisation recently declared the Covid-19 crisis to be the biggest event to affect the world since World War II.
History shows us that we often emerge from times of great crisis changed, both as individuals and as a society. As we sit at home during lockdown we have an opportunity to reflect, to consider what the world of financial advice and financial planning might learn from the pandemic.
The Penny Brohn UK Cancer Centre helps people with a life ending diagnosis. We interviewed the lead medical practitioner, Dr Catherine Zollman, on the Financial Wellbeing podcast. Among many fascinating points, she told us that people with a life ending illness often end up reporting an increase to their well-being.
Over the last few weeks, I've been asking lots of people how they are feeling during this lockdown period, during meetings, and also part of the Next Gen Daily Commute show.
Two words in particular have emerged. The first word is that people feel a bit scared. We have little control over what is happening to us, and we don't really know what the future will look like.
The other most common word, however, is that people feel thankful.
Block Out The Noise
One of the truisms of Financial wellbeing is that more money doesn't bring more happiness. Following the principle of Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs, once our physiological and safety needs have been satisfied, more money doesn't generally increase our wellbeing.
However, we live in a society where we tend to equate wealth with success. The media and advertising wants us to think that we need to buy more items and to earn more money. This noise of daily life prevents us from realising what does make us happy.
Now that we are locked at home, now that the noise has been turned off (or at least down), what do we find hidden behind? What are we thankful for?
Putting it another way, in order to maintain our wellbeing, we will stop listening to this noise of daily life and focus on what matters.
And when we do this, we remind ourselves of the importance of social relationships; that being healthy and having purpose is more important than often stuff or being seen by others to be rich.
Everyone is equal in the eyes of a virus.
How much is enough?
What do you talk to your clients about?
One excellent piece of advice right now that you will hear from many people is that advisers should be talking to their clients. The question I would ask is: what are you talking to them about?
I would suggest that (as a generalisation) one thing they do not want to talk about is their investments. Indeed, that's probably why they came to see you in the first place. So that they could hand the responsibility for their money to someone else.
Why not ask them about their wellbeing. Encourage this period of reflection. Arm yourself with some financial wellbeing theory to help guide their thinking.
Reinvent financial planning
Once you have had a conversation with a client about their wellbeing, why not review their file, their financial plan. Have you recorded the emotions that you have just been discussing?
What is their money for? What are the future objectives? Are they based around wellbeing and purpose, or around holding more stuff? Do you tend to talk about their investments, or about their wellbeing?
Now is a wonderful opportunity to reinvent financial planning. Now that the ‘It's all about the money' noise has significantly reduced, why not take this chance to change your relationships with clients. Make your conversations not about their money, but about what makes them happy.
I'd suggest you will have a considerably stronger client relationship as a result.
Chris Budd is author of The Financial Wellbeing Book and a founder of the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing (IFW). He also runs the Eternal Business Consultancy advising on succession planning and the Employee Ownership Trust in particular
If you'd like to listen to the NextGen Daily Commute show, email [email protected]
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'People feel thankful'
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