Reaching the heart’s desire for the “yacht-less”
One has to trigger that “eureka” moment – “Ah ha, I want this, I’ve got this.” The question then becomes: How can a financial planner achieve this for you?
Recently I was in Brooklyn giving directions to a friend. Simple directions: “Go west on Atlantic, take the second right and then look for the TD Band on your left.” My friend understood the directions but the look on his face made me feel that he was not going to get there. I said to myself, I need to make this meaningful and memorable. So, I told him, “Go this way, then turn right at Trader Joe’s.” It was a “eureka” moment as his face lit up and I knew that he would make it to his destination in no time. That’s what it is like with financial planning--it may not be difficult to give and receive clear and logical instructions, but it doesn’t always mean that someone will get there. One has to trigger that “eureka” moment – “Ah ha, I want this, I’ve got this.” The question then becomes: How can a financial planner achieve this for you?
A different way of looking at financial planning.
Call me a financial advisor for the “yacht-less” who knows the elements of a financial plan as do most people – budgets, insurance, investing, retirement, estate planning, tax, debt management and so on. These things are important; however, none of them are motivating in and of themselves. These have their place, but at the end of the day, they are products created by the finance industry and tax regulators for people to buy. They do not create that “eureka“-moment for someone. If you are working with an advisor, you need to receive a plan that will move you to action and will get you to where you really want to go.
Your financial plan as a ladder to your goal.
Let’s imagine your financial plan as a ladder, with the elements of financial planning being the ladder rungs—again, budgets, insurance, investing, cash flow, retirement, estate planning, tax, debt management and so on. How do we select and order the rungs to construct a ladder that is tailored to meet your needs? And where do we need to place the ladder? Unless we lean the ladder against where you really want to get to, executing on the plan will be difficult, if not impossible. The ladder may look good, but that is as much as you can get out of it. To get to where you want to go in life, it is critical to have an advisor who wants to get to know you, who listens to you and understands you, and does not talk over your head - someone with whom you would feel comfortable enough to discuss what it is that you really want to achieve, whether it be about work, family, relationships, or community.
Ask Mark Twain.
“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why” - Mark Twain
If your advisor is really going to help you, he or she needs to know much more than your risk tolerance and the answers to your financial goal questionnaire. Your advisor must fully understand their client’s goals and the motivations behind them. Only then can the advisor come up with a plan that will motivate their client to make it happen, that reaches the “Eureka” moment: “Ah ha, I’ve got this. I want this”.
How do you get a financial plan that motivates you? One, Two, Three.
There are three key steps to creating a “eureka” financial plan: Firstly, the advisor must understand what makes you “tick”—What gets you up and running every day? What drives you toward or away from something? Then they must discover where you really want to go and be—your goals and dreams, your vision for the future, all of which have a financial consequence. You do not want to leave an advisor meeting feeling you did not get to say what you wanted to. Finally, armed with these insights, your advisor aligns the elements of a financial plan to create the ladder that will take you to your vision and make it a reality. This approach ensures that a financial plan becomes a tool that enables you to achieve your heart’s desire, something that, deep down, you want to achieve. Clearly, this doesn’t all happen in one or two meetings; it takes time and can be done in parallel with some sound financial quick wins, such as addressing credit card debt, cash flow needs, establishing an emergency/opportunity funds, reviewing employee benefits, tax filing, 401(k) s, and so on.
My client minimum
If I am going to be able to deliver on these three steps with my client, I require a client minimum. This is not an Assets Under Management (AUM) dollar requirement, but rather:
- My client wants to be an active participant in planning and plan execution;
- My client understand that they need help;
- My client has a willingness for guidance and learning, and
- There is full and candid disclosure.
At the first client meeting, you will not be asked to bring financial information; the data gathering is non-financial. We will have a discussion around the following: What brings you here? Tell me your story. Where do you think I can get you to? Also, tell me some good and bad financial experiences you have had. You will, no doubt, have questions for me as well. It is from the outset that trust needs to be established, which is fundamental if we are going to discover your heart’s goal and how to achieve it.
I believe that what I’ve outlined above is at the heart of what a fiduciary financial advisor is all about. How can one always act in a client’s best interest without knowing and understanding their client? I am a financial advisor who helps clients to reach their hearts goals, so that they can say with confidence: “I want this, I’ve got this.”
Any questions? Want some advice, or just encouragement?