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Sam Sloma: Two must-reads for financial planners

Sam SlomaIf you had told me 10 years ago that not only would I be a chartered financial planner but that I would enjoy it so much I would be reading about the “science” of retirement and the “new retirementality” in my spare time, I reckon I would have asked you to kill me.

But it seems the lifestyle planning element has ignited a spark within me and, once the passion for what you do kicks in, you just want to learn as much as you can.

I have just finished The New Retirementality by Mitch Anthony, who spoke last month at Paul Armson’s Back2Y conference. I saw Anthony speak last year and he was fantastic.

The crux of the book is that retirement should not have to mean stopping work and switching off one’s brain. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that doing so has a negative impact on your life.

Advances in medicine and healthy lifestyles mean people are living longer and are far more able to work until they feel they cannot or do not want to.

The internet and progression in human connectivity have also meant that, instead of putting a finite date on one’s working life, it is now easier for people to phase the slowdown, to start new businesses or follow passions in their spare time.

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Traditional ideas of retirement are changing and there is an element of responsibility on planners to make sure retirees understand they have options. It was an enjoyable, easy read and I would give it an eight out of 10.

The second book I want to recommend is Start with Why by Simon Sinek. While not specific to financial services, it is a brilliant book about understanding the “why” within your business.

Understanding why the business exists provides a fundamental foundation to build on, of which you only realise the importance once you have found it. Sinek gives numerous examples of business leaders, including high-profile chief executives such as Apple’s Steve Jobs, who have started with why, and how it leads to repeated success.

It is not difficult for a business to explain what it does and it is also fairly easy (though possibly more technical) to explain how it does it.

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But very few businesses can clearly articulate their why. Why is it not about financial assets or profits? Why does your business exist? Why does it do the things it does? Why do customers really choose one company over another? Why are consumers loyal to some businesses, but not others?

Starting with why works across businesses of all sizes and across all industries. Those that start with why are more likely to achieve the consumer behaviour they desire through inspiration. And the people who follow them do not do so because they have to; they follow because they want to.

Now, the comparison between companies like Apple and a local financial planning business is not really a fair one. However, it does not mean we cannot learn lessons from these successful businesses. It is a huge asset to be able to look at your business from the ground up and have everything aligned to your why.

Start with Why is a bestseller and for anyone looking at starting their own business, I would say it is a must-read. I give it a solid nine out of 10.

Sam Sloma is managing director of Engage Financial Services

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