There is an increasing demand among qualified CFPs to consider some sort of Financial Life Planning qualification as a way of adding depth to their interactions with their clients. Financial Life Planning takes into account a client’s life situation, their hopes and dreams and brings these into play when planning their finances. Very popular in the US and UK, Financial Life Planning is steadily becoming accepted by the South African financial planning community.
I have been championing the case for Financial Life Planning in South Africa, and get asked on a regular basis by financial planners who have an interest in life planning how they go about getting qualified as a Financial Life Planner. The route I chose was to study with one of the pioneers of Financial Life Planning, namely George Kinder. I completed a course with the Kinder Institute in the US and qualified as one of only two Registered Life Planners in South Africa.
Practically and financially, this may not be an option for everyone; however, financial planners who want to grow their skills set without heading overseas to complete a formal qualification, can benefit from the following advice.
Subscribe to industry newsletters and blogs
A good place to start is to go to George Kinder’s website (www.kinderinstitute.com) and the website of Mitch Anthony (www.mitchanthony.com). Both of these Financial Life Planning industry stalwarts have good, comprehensive websites. Both also offer a free subscription service to their individual newsletters and blogs, an excellent way to keep up to date with ongoing developments within the life planning industry.
Self-study in the form of the multitude of books available on. Financial Life Planning is recommended. Key books include. The Seven Stages of Money Maturity by George Kinder, Clients for Life by Mitch Anthony, and The Next Step by Roy Diliberto, all available through Amazon or Kalahari.
Do a life-coaching course
Taking a client through the financial life planning process has much in common with the work done during the initial stages of a life-coaching programme. Financial Life Planners, like life coaches, help clients focus on their values and motivations and assist them to clarify the goals and objectives they have. Financial Life Planners then take the concept of life coaching one step further and use these values, motivations, goals and objectives to guide the financial planning process and provide a framework for making decisions that have financial and non financial implications. It therefore follows that doing a lifecoaching course can greatly benefit CFPs in their interactions with clients. There are many life-coaching courses available, but it can often be difficult to tell the professional life coaches from amateurs as the industry is unregulated. A good place to investigate life coaches and courses on offer is www.lifecoach-directory.co.za. Alternatively, ask around to get a recommendation from colleagues or friends.
Do a course in psychology
Financial Life Planning requires that the financial planner explores his or her client’s relationship with money. We all have our own, often dysfunctional, relationship with money and what it means to us. These deeply held beliefs stem from our very earliest interactions with money in childhood. Any degree or course in basic psychology can therefore be valuable to financial planners as it will help them in understanding the complex, at times unconscious, relationship a client has with money.
I became a financial planner because I have always had a fascination with people’s relationships with money, and I soon realised that there were fundamental flaws in the way planners did their jobs. The conversations financial planners were, and are still having with their clients, were too focused on the money and not enough on getting to know the client. The relationship a client has with money will tell you a lot about how they save and spend, and what investments they are comfortable with. So, getting to really know your client seems like the most obvious first step when creating a financial plan and this is where Financial Life Planning comes in.
Asking clients the right questions enables the planner to create a more customised financial plan. Because every client has different ideas as to how they would like to spend their money, a template-style plan no longer works. That is why a more in-depth discovery meeting will give any financial plan the substance that is required in the industry today.
Use your intuition and empathy
Lastly, CFPs should bring their intuition and empathy to their meetings with clients. This is particularly crucial in the initial stages of any new client interaction and will greatly assist the financial planner to develop a meaningful financial life plan for clients – and this, after all, is the goal of the Financial Life Planner.
Planners should change the conversations that they are having with clients. The results will astound them! My growth as a life planner has come from seeing that what I do changes lives, and I want all financial planners to experience that, too.