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How do I assist my clients in setting meaningful goals?
Mitch Anthony, prolific author whose seminal books include The New Retirementality (now in its fourth edition) and Your Client’s Story says, “Money is a means, not an end. More important than building a pile of money is building a plan for that money.”
However, many clients focus solely on achieving the highest investment returns and are not clear on what they want their money to do for them. Not many are able to describe their goals and aspirations, and how their desired investment returns will help them realise these goals. As financial planners, we need to help our clients to commit and stick to their financial plans.
Our Integrated Wealth Planning (IWP) process will assist you in your personal conversations around who and what is important to your clients and delve deeper into what your clients want their money to do for them. This process helps clients understand that money is not the end goal and simply a means to help achieve their ideal lifestyle over their lifetime.
Financial advice goes beyond just planning for retirement or having risk protection strategies in place in the event of death or disability – these are imperative in holistic financial planning. However, it is also important to talk about those things that get clients excited about their future – giving them a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when they eventually achieve their goals adding purpose to their money and lives. These meaningful goals fuel clients’ ambitions and motivate them to stay committed to their plan.
THE FOLLOWING STEPS WILL HELP YOU IN GUIDING YOUR CLIENTS TO SET MEANINGFUL GOALS:
- ESTABLISH AN EMOTIONAL CONNECTION WITH YOUR CLIENTS
Your first meeting should focus on your clients’ dreams, values, family needs and life philosophy. Listening actively and having a genuine curiosity through open-ended questions are key to connecting emotionally and making your clients feel valued. This will help them to dream big and share their future aspirations – their proverbial bucket list. Reframe your advice conversation to ensure that your clients have goals that are compelling and achievable, yet challenging and fulfilling.
- IDENTIFY THE EMOTIONAL WHY BEHIND EACH GOAL
People often set goals from a place of emotion. This is the part of the conversation that is often missing – how much does the client care about the goal? Clients may want to retire wealthy so they never have to be dependent on others for an income or want to leave a egacy. They may want to purchase a second property down the coast to spend holidays with the family or as their new home when they have an empty nest. Whatever the aspiration, there is always an emotional driver that underpins each desired outcome and it is this emotional vision that the client will have to turn to when they hit obstacles along their journey. The trick is to keep asking why until clients arrive at that one emotional statement that you will phrase and document in their action plan to support each goal.
- REMIND THEM OF THEIR GOALS AND EMOTIONAL WHY REGULARLY
Life is full of unexpected detours, changes and challenges. Market movements may also result in fear and panic and this is when you need to remind your clients of the emotional reasons behind their goals. More than just looking at the numbers, your review process must revisit how passionate your clients are about their goals – are they still excited? If not, maybe their goals have to align to changing circumstances? You have to remind clients as often as possible about their emotional WHY. This will not only keep them on track, but also make them feel great during their journey towards achieving their goals.
Dave Ramsey, a personal money-management expert and popular American radio personality, said, “You’ve got to tell your money what to do or it will leave.” In this spirit, you need to incite your clients to a more purposeful life through meaningful goal-setting. You need to help your clients to set goals that make them feel happy and fulfilled. They need to take action to achieve their dreams and that action needs to be connected to something deeper. Once you have helped them uncover this, they will remain committed to their plan seeking that rewarding and powerful feeling of ticking items off their bucket list – and ultimately living a richer and more fulfilled lifestyle.