What do comprehensive financial planners really do? The surface answer is that planners provide advice and services in the areas of investments, retirement planning, estate planning, cash flow management, tax planning, and asset protection.
In order to find a financial planning firm that’s a good fit for you, however, you might want to find out more about the core purpose that underlies all these services. Any successful company will have a clear vision of its purpose, and its staff members should be able and willing to discuss that purpose with you.
As an example, my staff and I have defined the core purpose of our firm as being to transform the financial and emotional well-being of people. Here’s a closer look at the three key words of that purpose:
Transform. Transformation is defined as a major change in form, nature, or function. To achieve long-term financial health, you may need to transform your relationship with money by making permanent changes in your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. An example of transformation might be learning to reframe a money script that has blocked your ability to save for the future.
Well-being. This is a multidimensional word that includes financial, emotional, and physical aspects of people’s lives. Our purpose focuses on both the financial and emotional aspects. Since some 90% of all financial decisions are made emotionally, separating financial and emotional well-being is almost impossible.
People. By using “people” rather than “clients,” we acknowledge that, in order to foster transformation and well-being for our clients, we also need to be concerned about the well-being of all the members of our staff.
Once a firm has defined its core purpose—the “what”—the next step is to create a framework of principles to accomplish that purpose. This is the “how” that guides the operations of the company. The principles might be something like the following:
1. We put clients first.
2. We guide people to reach a destination in an unfamiliar area.
3. We give sound advice and creative solutions.
4. We constantly educate ourselves.
5. We personally practice what we preach.
6. We take clients only where we have gone ourselves.
7. We are serial innovators.
8. We take personal responsibility for our actions and contributions.
Finally, behind the “what” and “how” of what a firm does is the “why.” These are the core values, the touchstone that brings everyone in the company together and forms the basis of the company’s culture. These values are non-negotiable. Even though a company’s purpose or principles may change over time, the values will stay the same.
Core values might include:
1. Authenticity. Our work and personal interactions are based on real, unquestionable evidence, reliability, and trustworthiness.
2. Unbiased Advocacy. We are defenders, supporters, and interceders on behalf of our clients and one another.
3. Well-Being. Everything we do is in support of achieving and maintaining, for our clients and one another, a state of being happy, healthy, and prosperous.
4. Continuous Improvement. We focus on improving our processes, our client experience, and ourselves.
In exploring the core purpose of a comprehensive financial planning firm, look for a planner who appreciates the importance of both financial health and the well-being it supports. You can’t have well-being without the financial means to support your physical health and emotional happiness.
Comprehensive financial planning goes beyond helping you build financial independence. It also helps you change destructive money behaviors, clarify your goals, and achieve the dreams that represent happiness to you. In the broadest sense, real financial planning offers investment advice that supports your investment in your own well-being.
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