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Holistic Financial Planning: Seeing The Entire Picture

The distinction of holistic financial planning can help prospects and clients understand what to expect from a relationship with a financial advisor compared to a broker, life insurance specialist or other specialized professional. A holistic outlook adds significant value to a client’s financial future and can set you apart from your competitors. 

Differentiate Yourself

Some professionals use “financial planning” as a sales term to boost their credibility. Instead of specifying their capabilities (e.g. “I’m a life insurance specialist”), they categorize themselves as a financial planner to attract a variety of clients. Although these professionals are a legitimate resource for people interested in specific products, they are misidentified as all-encompassing financial planners. 

If you engage in holistic planning, ensure that your prospects and clients are aware of what this term means and how it sets you apart. Discuss how a holistic financial planning approach involves assessing the client’s current situation, where they want to be and what they need to do to get there. Ideally, holistic planners look at a client’s complete picture and maintain a financial planning mindset at all times. If you do not have the bandwidth or experience to serve your clients on all aspects of their finances, consider developing a relationship with additional specialists who can complement your expertise. 

Product-Focused Versus Process-Focused

If you are a specialized professional looking to elevate your expertise, evaluate how you approach product recommendations. Do you lead with products, or do you wait until later in the process? As a holistic planner, you should explore the client’s present situation, identify problems and opportunities, define objectives, provide recommendations and facilitate product purchases to accomplish the client’s goals. Continue the relationship after the sale to encourage a holistic approach as your clients’ needs and objectives evolve over time. 

Successful Outcomes With A Comprehensive Approach

As a holistic financial planner, my clients’ best interests are a priority. This is especially true when clients approach me with an idea inconsistent with their plan and their goals. From time to time, an investment opportunity will leave clients salivating. They will want to rush in before it is too late, and often their frenzied enthusiasm will overwhelm any rational decision-making process.

In this scenario, a broker would help their client buy the investment while the financial planner would take a step back and ask what they hope to accomplish with the purchase. They would look at the whole plan and consider other options based on the client’s objective. 

For example, if the client wants to invest in the stock because they heard many others are doing the same and it might help them secure income for retirement, a financial planner may suggest a variable annuity instead. This option will result in income to last for a lifetime as opposed to a stock in its infancy that is currently losing money and doesn’t fit with the client’s plan. Sometimes a client does not know what they are looking for until it is presented to them by an experienced professional, and holistic planners can be this trusted resource for our clients. 

Challenges Clients Face Without A Holistic Outlook

Many consumers are influenced by group mentality and end up with a collection of financial assets that don’t have a significant connection. A financial planner provides the necessary link and determines the correct path that will lead the client to their end goal. Our guidance removes distractions from the cacophony of outside influences and a segmented outlook.   

A sales-focused financial professional has a limited product shelf-life and skillset. If they only have experience with one or two products, everyone they meet falls into one or two solutions. Elevate the value you can bring to your clients with an unlimited toolkit and a holistic outlook that can achieve the client’s desired financial objectives. 

Through an exploration process, holistic planners uncover clients’ financial aspirations and what is important in their lives. We determine how to work in collaboration with clients in a manner consistent with the ideal outcome. This approach also encourages our clients to make smart behavioral finance decisions. In times of uncertainty, such as with inevitable market turbulence, clients are aware that the financial plan identified in advance will go through variability as part of the journey previously discussed. If clients stay the course and stick with the holistic plans in positive and negative times, they will have successful financial futures.

Brad Brain, B.A., CFP, R.F.P., CLU, CH.F.C, CHS, CIM, FCSI, TEP, is nationally recognized for his expertise in retirement income planning. He is an international speaker and award-winning author. For nine years he served as a member of the Insurance Council of British Columbia. He is a nine-year member of MDRT with five Court of the Table qualifications. Brad may be contacted at [email protected] [email protected].

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