I was lucky enough to watch Carl Richards and Anna Sofat speak at an event earlier this year.

    They both share incredibly inspiring and progressive messages, reframing the role of financial planners and the financial services industry as a whole.

    Your purpose goes way beyond ensuring return on investment.

    Financial planners play a crucial role in delivering health, happiness and success to clients from all walks of life.

    You most likely know this already - so I’m preaching to the choir.

    However, as an outsider-come-insider to the sector, there’s definitely an opportunity to tie your values closer to this very human purpose.

    If we genuinely commit to and live these values on a daily basis we'll quickly change the public perception of financial services.

    At The Speakers' Gym, we started as outsiders to the financial world. We’ve found this external insight particularly helpful in developing communication skills with all sorts of businesses within the industry.

    Public perception of financial services isn’t great.

    We've worked with many firms and practices over the past three years, focusing on the development of soft skills.

    What's clear is while there are problems, there's enough heart and soul to pull us into a better future.

    A future that ties financial services closer to its human core. Financial services must have (and does have) a heart.

    Bigger than planning

    I’ve been searching for a title more empowering than 'financial planner' because what you do for the world is actually bigger than 'planning'. 

    I've settled on this: 'financial doctors'. 

    Let me explain.

    Martin Luther King said "I have a dream" not "I have a plan."

    You're helping clients to realise their dreams and aspirations, and the dreams and aspirations of their loved ones.

    This is a more inspiring and inclusive onboarding process than "I'm going to put together a financial plan for you."

    Of course, you will do that in the course of working with clients. But the reason why you're putting it together is the driver.

    People invest money to look after the people they love - now and in the future.

    People invest money and seek your help to deliver the quality of life they dream of.

    Starting with the diagnosis

    As with any good doctor, you need to carry out a full and thorough diagnosis before offering recommendations. 

    This isn't about shoe-horning people into ready made products.

    Carl Richards said that people don’t care about your solutions or financial products. They care about their problems.

    Take the time to fully understand these problems, to discover what that person's values are and what's important to them.

    Listen openly. Barely speak.

    Your sole purpose is to understand as fully as possible.

    I can't tell you how powerful it is to feel like you've been heard.

    Clients will only trust the financial plan for the long haul if they feel they've had a thorough and accurate diagnosis.

    Otherwise, when the going gets tough, they may well jump ship - even against your better judgement.

    But if the diagnosis was thorough and the client trusts you have their best interests at heart, you can help them realise their dreams, where alone they may have faltered.

    With great power comes great responsibility

    It's the planner's responsibility to make sure clients' actions match the values and dreams they told you about at outset.

    It's easy for people to get side-tracked by short-termism - by fear and greed.

    You're there to point out their blind spots and guide them back on track, and to a better future.

    It's a big role - and a challenge that advisers and planners are up to.

    Money is one of the biggest causes of anxiety and stress in the world today. Mental health continues to plummet on every measure.

    As a 'financial doctor', you have a central role to play in your clients' well-being as you help them stay the course to a happy life. 

    Along the way, your expertise and the ability to share it in a compassionate, human and simple way offers peace of mind, and the headspace clients need to enjoy life.

    The importance of 'hard', technical skills in advice have never been in question.

    But soft skills, that is, the ability to communicate in a relatable and relevant way, has to receive equal footing.

    This is your bedside manner - and it’s far beyond a 'nice to have'. For your clients, it’s everything.

    Take your GP, for example.

    After a visit, you don’t come away eulogising about their qualifications. You take this as a given.

    What you remember is how they spoke to you and how they made you feel.

    This is no different for your clients.

    “People will forget what you did, people will forget what you said but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    Maya Angelou

    So my call to action is this. 

    Through her movement to change the culture of wealth, Anna Sofat asks the question: "Are you in?"

    I'd encourage you to answer with an unequivocal yes. 

    You don't have to change the world overnight. But if each of us takes care of our bit, we'll make a huge difference and contribute something incredible to the profession, and to wider society. 

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