Fulfilling the Implied Promise of Financial Planning

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The time has come to challenge ourselves and our profession. Are we fulfilling our implied promise to improve the quality of our clients’ lives, or are we just getting better at running the business of financial planning, in good times and in bad? This question is more relevant today that it has ever been. At this unprecedented moment in history, are we just doing things differently, dusting off our “disaster” tools from 2008 and using them with clients?

As I look through the headlines of articles in this time of pandemic, I see plenty of commentary on how it is affecting the markets and the businesses of advisors. There is also mention of fear, stress and uncertainty.

But visibly absent is a plan to address the emotions that are overwhelming our clients. Indeed, doing so is an implied mandate of our profession.

What is the implied promise?

Every time a client signs on or renews with a financial planner, that advisor has made promise. This promise goes beyond fiduciary commitments, technology, behavioral finance, life planning, and even financial planning in the time of a pandemic. The promise says:

I am your go-to for whatever happens in your life. When life goes as planned, I am here to keep you on track. When life pivots you in a new direction, welcomed or regrettable, I am here for you to lead you and keep you safe. When the pieces of your life fall apart, I can help you put it all back together. When the world rapidly changes in ways you could never imagine, I. Am. Here.

Think about the tools you use regularly with your clients and the conversations are you having these days. What are they about? Is the topic how they are coping as human beings, or is it their money? Who – or what – are we serving? Do you just use a different set of tools than you did a month ago?