In brief, the financial planning process consists of gathering data, analyzing the data and presenting recommendations accordingly.

Some examples of these recommendations might include working longer, saving more, reducing expenses, changing allocations or consolidating investments. Should the client heed this advice, they will likely improve their financial standing for the future. Pretty straightforward, right?

If this plain vanilla process sounds like yours, consider more coaching in your client conversations and planning rather than just stressing action items like those noted above. There is nothing unique about echoing what our planning software has already determined.

The between the lines coaching is where we can demonstrate our unique value to clients. 

For example, we recently worked with a client that has little financial need for her investment savings. Michelle collects a pension, survivorship benefits and Social Security. 

Turning 70½ next year, she recently asked us as to whether she should plan to reinvest her RMD since she’ll have no need for it. Michelle is a widow with no children, her passions for philanthropy are minimal and her siblings are wealthier than she. Our planning software recommended she continue to accumulate and increase her surplus. If we echoed this conclusion, we didn’t feel as though we were delivering any unique value to her.

We decided to schedule a meeting to explore Michelle’s feelings about money. Within a short period of time, we discovered that she is very fearful of spending. Throughout her childhood, money was scarce and she often overheard her parents talk of their money troubles. When she was 18, she promised herself that she would not experience what her parents had. 

Prior to talking this through, she didn’t fully understand that her financial mindset was preventing her from doing the things she had always wanted to do.

During our next planning session, we worked on a plan where she would fulfill many of her lifetime personal goals, some of which included extensive travel, the purchase of a second home in a warmer climate and joining the golf club she had always desired to.

Her quality of life changed as a result of coaching her through some “blocks” she had about her money.

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