Financial planning – what a way to make a living! I love my job and for those of you who attended the illuminate live events recently, I shared some of my client stories as well as some of the amazing pictures I’ve been sent by clients.
These include photos of their dream holidays or projects I’ve helped them plan - some of which have taken years, making it even more satisfying to see them come to fruition.
Although we work with clients to help them achieve their goals and objectives, as planners we sometimes don’t comprehend the enormity of it.
But if you’ve seen our website, you’ll see that we don’t have client testimonials or videos displayed to entice other clients into their own planning journey, and this is our choice. Although I see many great examples of other planners doing this, why don’t we?
Well, we believe every client circumstance is so unique and so personal that discretion is everything. I know that even if I tell a client story, the client will know who I’m talking about, and in general our clients are quite private, and we respect that. So we let clients share their planning journey with whom they wish to share it. We are fortunate enough that this leads to a steady stream of new referrals.
A planner’s experience
When fellow planner Rohan Sivajoti’s shared his heart-warming experience of working with me as his planner on illuminate, I was actually quite emotional, it brought a tear to my eye. To see the impact of planning from his perspective and the huge affect it’s had on him and his partner’s life was exactly the sort of feedback we love.
But what was it like to work with another planner in this way?
When Rohan approached me last year about being his financial planner of course I said yes, he and the team at Next Gen are doing wonderful things in the industry and he certainly fitted our niche, which is working with ‘nice’ people.
All planners are probably guilty of creating wonderful financial plans for everyone else, but actually forgetting our own circumstances. Especially if you are running your own business.
There is always something to do, we wear so many hats and have to juggle many roles that sorting our own circumstances slips way down the priority list. However, it’s so important that financial planners have their own financial plans in place too, as not only does your family rely on you, but also your clients and your team.
However, prior to our first ‘official’ meeting, given Rohan’s background, I must admit I found myself questioning what I do, our process, and was maybe even a little nervous, given this was someone who is pretty high-profile within the industry.
But actually, at the end of the day, everyone is unique, with their own individual planning needs, and this is what I do, and what I love about my role as a financial planner.
Rohan was very specific in the brief that he was comfortable with looking after the investment side of things himself – it was purely planning that he was looking for, and any gaps filled.
So once we go down to it, I treated Rohan like every other client who is looking for support, space and the chance to really think about his options and what he really wanted from life.
Rohan admitted the first meeting was a little weird - being on the receiving end of the questions was strange at first! But it soon flowed.
I certainly don’t want to bamboozle a client with technical jargon (planner or not), and no one wants to see a clients’ eyes glaze over. I want each and every single one of our clients to understand and engage with the plan for them to get the most out of it – it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach.
I obviously didn’t have to worry about Rohan’s ability to understand what I was referring to, but I had to be mindful of his partner’s engagement; it was her first experience of planning and so I wanted her to be as inspired as any other client. The feedback was that she was!
At a high level, by providing Rohan and his partner with a detailed financial plan, they've been able to make some pretty life-changing decisions, which includes his partner quitting her high-stress job as a solicitor to focus on her art career full time. The couple have also struggled for a child for a little while, and have said they think it's no coincidence that since the career change, they're currently in the middle of a successful pregnancy with a little one due late March (fingers crossed).
It's this feedback that makes our jobs so worth it.
Practice what we preach
As with any other client, I was also keen to gauge how best they will interact with the plan once it’s created, so I’ll continue to coach Rohan and his girlfriend to ensure they keep on track. In some ways, this might be the most important part of all.
So make sure you block some time out in your diary to review your circumstances, and think about your own goals and objectives for a change. These are the jobs we always mean to get round to and often we don’t – we need to practise what we preach. Then tell our own planning story.
By making sure our clients are engaged throughout the journey, they become our ambassadors, and this makes us happy and ensures we are always learning, improving and evolving. Whether they’re a friend, family member, or fellow planner.