A financial planner is a bit like Dr Who

Last night I was reminded that perhaps being a financial planner is a bit like being Dr Who. Now, I haven’t watched an episode of Dr Who since I was pretty small so I may be out of date with the latest regeneration, but it seems to me that good financial planning involves something of a shift in perspective about time and on occasion involves a sense of time travel. As a financial planner I help clients take a look at the present and their future (with a load of assumptions) but perhaps the most basic being that they continue to apply the same behaviour and habits that they have today. For some this is a welcome version of the future, for others… well not so. My job is not to judge, but to help coach clients to change behaviours to enable them to have the future that they want. This is not always easy for us mere mortals to do, after all habits die hard. Some say it requires discipline, but in truth we all tend to fall into habits. So great financial planning is about creating new habits. After all, what good is a great financial plan if you don’t implement it?

Changing the future

Here in Britain, coaching is still in its infancy. I’m making a generalisation, but I generally observe that British attitudes to coaching are slightly suspicious. We have a tendency to “go it alone” and not ask for help or directions (yes I know it is a generalisation)… but ask most women if men stop for directions… or read the instructions. Anyway, thinking of top sports people, most, if not all of them have a coach. Why? because a coach is helping improve existing skills and embed new good habits. So a financial planner is (a good one anyway) a coach – a financial coach.

Tardis – appearances can be deceptive

To return to the Dr Who idea – a great financial planner is also rather like the Tardis. The exterior and normal understanding betrays the vast labyrinth of rooms within. I’m not suggesting that financial planners are necessarily deep people (some are, some aren’t) merely that as one I possess access to all sorts of stuff that I may not mention or put on display to all. For example, most people think financial planning is about investing – this has more to do with financial products rather than financial planning, but being an independent financial adviser I have access to thousands of funds and financial products. However it goes way beyond this – I connect clients to people that are able to help, able to add value – be they a great Solicitor or a Private Bank for services that few appreciated even existed. All I’m saying is that for my clients, I’m able to put them in touch with help – the google search in person, but with the added advantage of real experience.

Yesterday was a tough day, battling the Cybermen (well it felt like it with my IT which does often make me think of a Dalek or two), however last night I had a very useful evening with some excellent peers from the IFP, who helped remind me of both the Timelord and the Tardis. I’m hoping that my IT challenges will not continue today, but then I seem to recall that even Dr Who had his technical challenges.