I have long believed that financial planners can have a profound effect on their clients' lives and their affairs.
This is something our collective experience confirms, as does the client feedback we receive. In fact, it'd be a real issue if this wasn't the case.
But somehow this profound benefit is very often drowned out by a mixture of miscreants, regulatory statements and, at times, misinformed and misleading reporting.
That's not to say bad or unregulated advice isn't going on, just that this is where the focus tends to lie.
Bad news and provocative headlines sell copy, or as the American comedian Tracy Morgan puts it: “Bad news travels at the speed of light, good news at the speed of molasses.”
This is why I think it's so important that the financial planning community gets together to share the many and varied ways they have helped their clients.
Financial planning helps people in ways more profound than many outside our world could ever begin to understand.
There will have been tears, bereavement and awful medical news to contend with. But there will also be the many uplifting stories of coaching, education and what can be akin to pastoral care.
Recently Alan Smith, chief executive of Capital Asset Management, wrote on Twitter about the need for financial planners to tell their stories.
He spoke about how planners deal with people first, and policies and plans much later.
In this year of unrelenting bad news, when the combination of health issues, financial worries and uncertainty have left so many people anxious and scared, I had a sense that our profession had something to offer. I just didn’t know what. Until now. Thread 👇— Alan Smith (@AlanJLSmith) October 19, 2020
He suggested that with so much bad news peddled about financial services, it was time for something different.
In effect, Alan's tweet and the thread that followed issued a call to action for telling stories about helping clients.
By contributing our stories and experiences, it's likely a body of work can be assembled which can be owned by the whole profession, in order to help spread the word about the difference financial planning can make.
Our clients get what we do, we work hard to make sure of this.
Sadly, the most profound understanding clients may gain is at a time of huge personal stress.
Perhaps by assembling our insights we can help them understand earlier the full extent of the value of financial planning, with the sincere hope that the worst of circumstances don’t occur in their lives.
Many planners have already contributed, and I would urge you to think hard about contributing to this profession-wide call for support.
As Alan clearly states in the video below, this is not about him or any particular organisation. It is about the profession and our clients.
If you wish to, you can submit your stories to the secretariat service we are offering via email@example.com and join those who have already rallied to the call.
(Editor's note: Illuminate is also happy to lend its support to this worthy initiative - you can get in touch to share your story here)
Please do share your stories of just how much you care you for your clients, and the impact financial planning has had on them.
For some inspiration, check out Kim Bendall's powerful story which kick-started all this, and Alan's own equally powerful story from last year.