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Workshop was the perfect therapy

Recent events have reminded us that when all things are considered, money is not the most important thing it life. Several years ago, I attended a two-day workshop with George Kinder on the Seven Steps to Money Maturity.

This course has without doubt been the best invest-ment that I have made in recent years. As an added bonus, the course was held in New Orleans, the town that never sleeps or maybe that was just us.

The course focuses on determining what people want out of life from a variety of perspectives using three questions within a set of given scenarios. Since I attended, I have added a “timetable” to allow those close to retirement a glimpse of what they can do and how then can spend their post-work time.

Using these with couples either demonstrates how close two people can be or the distance they sit apart. If we are to show the added value that we can provide, there is no doubt that it is our “soft skills” which need to be honed the most. High levels of knowledge are essential for the professional adviser but they alone will not provide the connection with a client that makes them loyal for years to come.

For too long, we have recognised the intangibility of the products we offered. Here is an opportunity to create that feeling of tangibility.

In the words of Roosevelt: “People may forget what you said, they may forget how you spoke but they never forget how you made them feel.”

On the last day of my course, I was asked to counsel someone with real issues. This was a challenge. I listened, I empathised and then I cogitated before providing the individual with my synopsis of her situation.

This lady had been in therapy since childhood, common in the US but still amazing to a stand-alone Scot. In a scene not unlike Analyse this, where Billy Crystal snaps, I provide short, sharp pointers for her. Her attitude realigned, the financial planning bit was going to be much simpler.

When she was asked for feedback, she suggested that had she met me earlier, she would be much wealthier, having finally realised the minimal value that coun-selling was having if she did nothing to affect change.

Not everyone will take to this approach, just as they will reject the radical movement of the product sale in the advice cycle.  Provided they are happy to provide either technically-focused or product-focused advice, that is fine. If not, then perhaps this industry has left them behind. That in itself shows that true professionalism is just around the corner.

But be careful when you use this new found approach. The classic error I made was to share my techniques with a solicitor chum.

As we headed to the end of a meeting on wills, he asked them if they had any special bequests they wanted to make. The lady said no but her husband declared his wish to leave something to his sister in law. This was a surprise to his wife and we seamlessly moved from estate planning to marriage mediation.

Despite that, this is an opportunity for us to connect with our clients and a meeting of a group interested in this approach will convene later this year. Those interested are welcome to drop me a line at Money Marketing.  

Robert Reid is director of Syndaxi Financial Planning


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