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Planning permission

You may be aware, as it is not something that I have kept particularly secret, that I am a big fan of life planning. It is a subject that is very close to my heart and I believe it is essential to the future of financial planning.

I feel so strongly about that I recently invited George Kinder to hold a workshop at Helm Godfrey for our advisers.

The fundamental importance of money in life means financial planners are uniquely placed to help people by putting the whole financial planning process into the wider context of life planning. This, I believe, is essential to do financial planning really well and I expect Helm Godfrey to be at the forefront of this movement.

Life planning completely changes the way in which we, as advisers, interact with our clients. A life planner has to understand a client’s drivers and relationship to money so well that the client’s experience of their money is positive. This will ideally result in freedom from worry and peace of mind. It requires insight into the client – their life, work hobbies, etc.

Money is an enabler for life and if a client wants to plan for the next 50 years or so (we are living longer) advisers need to understand how they behave around money and how money will play a part in their future.

This cannot be achieved hastily and there is no quick solution. It takes time and patience, asking the deeper questions in life and listening to the answers. You can only truly understand your clients when you have asked the same questions of yourself. You need to understand your own relationship with money and what you want it to do in your life.

There are even bigger questions to ask yourself, such as what am I doing here? Or, what it would take to live a life where I feel I have lived to my full potential? Only when you have this understanding can you act as a guide to your clients and help them find their own answers. Some advisers are not comfortable with this, as it encourages them to ask questions of themselves which they may not be prepared to answer. I, on the other hand, find it extremely exciting and have been truly inspired by the journey I have found myself on.

I know I am not alone as life planning is steadily gaining momentum among IFAs. I strongly believe this will drive the industry forward and become more mainstream. The much anticipated RDR can only be a good thing for life planning as the industry becomes more of a profession. Life planning’s deep knowledge of its clients goes to the heart of the appro- priateness of financial advice.

There has been a marked increase in life planning courses for the coming year and I believe this will continue. As more advisers become willing to look after their own life planning and transfer their knowledge to clients, the landscape of the financial planning sector will change and will be the better for it.

Bruce Wilson is managing director of Helm Godfrey

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