Beyond Investments: Help Clients With All Their Goals
July 21, 2014
By Bruce W. Fraser for Financial Planning
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.” Most planners are trained to accumulate assets for clients. But today, as the baby boomer population grows and life expectations lengthen, more of planners' conversations are revolving around financial life planning.
With financial life planning, planners engage in holistic wealth management, helping clients articulate and document their vision of the financial future, beyond investment management to aspirations and goals. Do they want to make sure their family is cared for beyond their time here? Do they want to give more time and money to a particular cause? Do they seek something greater than themselves?
“The planning implication is that the person is the focus of attention, not the portfolio,” says Paula H. Hogan, an independent financial planner in Milwaukee who specializes in financial life planning. Potential clients, however, “still come in and think it’s all about portfolio management and nothing more.”
Hogan, who has served on the national boards of the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, sees financial planning as “the lifelong process of integrating personal values with the management of both human and financial capital for the betterment of self and the community.”
Financial life planning usually takes into account a client’s family, a spouse, their children and grandchildren. This more-inclusive approach is typically important to upper-income investors and can be particularly helpful to clients near retirement or already in retirement.
'VALUES, PASSION AND PURPOSE'
Planners who practice life planning are generally enthusiastic about it and enjoy observing its effects on clients. “Life planning has transformed my business, which is now about really helping people,” says Beth Jones, a Registered Life Planner at Third Eye Associates in Red Hook, N.Y. “My clients are committed to bringing consciousness into integrating their life and their money.”
In life planning, “we first look at who the person is—what are their fundamental values, passions and purpose in life—in a deep discovery process,” Jones says. “We then analyze their financial situation, build a financial plan that is grounded in the client’s life and monitor their progress at implementing that plan.
“Our clients say that this process has created an open dialogue with their spouse, sharing dreams they never shared before [and] that their dreams about retirement are now a reality. They also have a clue about how their money is invested and how that relates to each of their dreams and goals.”
Brinton Eaton Wealth Advisors in Madison, N.J., also specializes in life planning issues. Its 300 clients have an average net worth of $2 million to $5 million.
“We identify what our clients’ goals are—whether leaving money to charity, to their children, or investing in a certain way,” says Abigail Rosen, a wealth advisor at the firm. “It’s very easy to throw numbers at clients, but to truly understand their goals takes listening and asking follow-up questions.”
This article originally appeared in Financial Planning.
Third Eye Associates, Ltd disclaimer
This article is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice. Always consult a qualified Financial Consultant or Planner who can guide you in creating a globally diversified portfolio that provides growth and income with an eye on managing volatility.
Beth Jones, RLP®, AIF®, CFT™ is a Certified Financial Transitionist™, Registered Life Planner, and Financial Consultant with Third Eye Associates, Ltd, a fee-only Registered Investment Adviser located at 38 Spring Lake Road in Red Hook, NY. She can be reached at 845-752-2216 or www.thirdeyeassociates.com.