Updated: Jun 26, 2019
Finding a financial planner that has your best interests at heart and will act as your financial partner, guide, and educator can be a challenge.
In today’s financial services landscape, the terms planner or advisor have been hijacked by product pushers all across the profession. In Unshakeable, Tony Robbins states that only 5,000 of our nations 310,000 financial advisors are pure fiduciaries. If you are playing the financial advisor lottery, you have a 1.6% chance of getting someone who must act in your best interest.
Thankfully, excellent organizations like the XY Planning Network, NAPFA, and the Fee-only network are leading the charge giving consumers access to real financial planning through fiduciary fee-only planners and advisory firms.
Given the convolution of the profession, though, I frequently wonder what crosses someone’s mind when I mention that I am a financial planner.
I know exactly what it means to me, but what does it mean to you? If some dude in a crappy suit pushing life insurance down your throat comes to mind, then you probably haven’t worked with a real financial planner.
Real financial planning starts with your life at the center. Once a tentative life plan has been formulated, a financial plan is built to support it. In doing so, your planner should serve you in three key roles.
Mitch Anthony’s book Your Clients For Life describes the roles as:
Your Financial Partner
The most important piece of personal financial planning is the personal nature of it. As partners, the planner and client walk side-by-side through the inevitable ups and downs of life. The relationship is one of authenticity, empathy, and synergy.
Your planner should be able to connect and communicate with you on levels much deeper than just investment projections. Numbers on a spreadsheet don’t form strong partnerships.
Attaining an understanding of your past, present, and hopeful future along with the underlying values, fears, and desires is the starting point for establishing a planning relationship.
Your Financial Guide
Once the relationship has been established and goals have been set, your financial planner’s expertise and knowledge are used to develop an individualized plan to accommodate and accelerate the accomplishment of your goals.
According to this article on scaling Mount Everest, “Statistics show a success rate of about 50% for non-guided climbers versus about 75% of guided climbers.” Having a guide helps to get you where you want to go. Mitch Anthony says, “Call it a personal CFO or a quarterback, the role the advisor plays is one that leads, affirms, holds accountable, and motivates.”
Most financial planners aren’t going to take you to the top of a mountain (maybe Stone Mountain). But, a quality financial life planner that fills the roles Mitch speaks of will significantly increase your odds of reaching your financial summit.
Your Financial Educator
Dave Ramsey is fond of saying that when seeking an advisor, you should find one that has the heart of a teacher. I agree wholeheartedly with this. Talking financial jargon mumbo jumbo may make the planner feel smart and superior, but it doesn’t equate to better outcomes for clients.
Your financial educator should thoroughly explain the concepts and strategies of your plan in plain English. Planners that educate their clients provide them the knowledge and tools to make wise financial decisions. It’s your life, your money, and your plan. No one should understand it better than you.
The Three Key Roles
Fulfilling the three key roles of partner, guide, and educator are essential to the financial life planner/client relationship. Real financial planning is client-centered with a life focus—not just money. Money is the means, not the ends.
Working with a fiduciary financial planner that fills these roles will allow you to connect your life to your money, bringing contentment, success, and progress to you and your family's life.
If you are looking for a partner, guide, and educator to help you develop and implement a financial life plan, please contact me at (470) 228-0519 or Matthew@ForwardFocusfp.com.
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