I don’t know about anyone else, but I still find it difficult to really articulate what financial planning and life planning actually are. This could be considered an issue given that this is my dedicated profession!
Explaining the tangible value adds is straightforward. Tax efficiencies, IHT planning, investments – monetary figures can easily be attached to these types of benefits of financial and life planning.
However, it’s often the less tangible benefits that actually provide the most value to people. A key outcome from our relationship with our clients is the peace of mind and clarity of vision we provide, keeping clients on the straight and narrow and helping them to avoid making poor decisions. I categorise these less tangible benefits into 6 key areas :
1) Organisation – bringing order to the chaos of their lives and finances. Despite the long-term time-saving benefits, our clients rarely have the initial time nor inclination to put the necessary structures in place to better organise their finances.
2) Accountability – paying for someone to hold you accountable to the goals you’ve set for yourself can make a significant difference to achieving success. Why do people pay for personal trainers at the gym? They have access to the tools and equipment themselves – but it’s the motivation and support that drives better behaviour.
3) Objectivity – in a business you will have non-exec directors and a board of directors to objectively advise on decisions. We provide this for clients from an objective, truth-telling position centred on their best interests.
4) Proactivity – looking ahead for changes, transitions, opportunities so our clients can spend their time living their life and doing what they love to do.
5) Financial Education – providing knowledge and education in a time of 24-hour emergency news. Helping people to ignore the noise and instead switch on to what is really important to them!
6) Partnership – working closely with families as their financial partner or personal Finance Director. We work best with clients who are delegators and want someone to be a part of their team.
These benefits are worth a huge amount to our clients, but how do you go about assigning a monetary value to them?? It’s not an easy task, if possible at all. However, it’s been my experience that, once a client has been through the planning process and has experienced the benefit of these intangible rewards, they become something so valuable that the client wonders how they ever managed without them!
Next question – if we can’t fully calculate the monetary benefit of financial planning, how do we justify the fee for it?
Well, this can also be tough. Some clients just get it. They recognise that they need us and they trust us to charge fairly, so they are glad to accept our annual fee. Other clients might just take a leap of faith, some might have a few more questions and need a little extra information in order to trust in the value of what we do.
Whatever their initial thoughts might be, once we get started it never takes long for a client to fully embrace our relationship, and all the advantages – tangible and intangible - it brings.