What Is True Wealth?
For the love of money
Financial planning is about much more than simply creating investment returns. Our clients want to find happiness in their lives, which will mean something different to every single person we work with. If we aren’t having deep conversations about freedom and happiness with our clients, then perhaps it’s time we take a better look at what matters most in life.
Money is only valuable because it allows us to grow past a stage in life where we have to work hard for a living, but it won’t help anyone to be truly happy.
No one wants money. Not really. They only think they do.
Here’s how we as financial planners should help our clients find achieve true wealth, beyond just getting a return on their investment.
What is wealth?
Helping our clients achieve wealth starts by understanding what wealth is. Perhaps the best place to start a discussion about what wealth means is with defining the concept of happiness. I know – not an easy task. But I think simply put, a person is truly happy when they can feel grateful - as well as accepting the pains of life as a worthwhile part of an overall journey.
Staring at an account balance and thinking that will create a positive life experience isn’t going to lead to anything good.
Everyone wants to have a set of meaningful experiences, to be free from the everyday demands of a working life. Even people that love to work don’t want to be bound to a job they dislike, which is where we, as financial planners, enter the picture.
Learning about what kinds of goals our clients’ have – retirement or not – is be the most rewarding part of our business, and this approach will no doubt help us grow as a profession as well.
Knowing Fortune — Understanding Life
Life is an adventure. Along the way we are given various opportunities – to be, to do, to have – and if they’re ignored, they disappear.
Seneca, the wise Stoic philosopher, commented:
“Remember that all we have is 'on loan' from Fortune, which can reclaim it without our permission — indeed, without even advance notice.”
Thus, the money we help our clients grow should serve a higher purpose for them: allowing them to live a life that is in touch with their values and to build lasting relationships with the people they care for the most.
Granted, our clients may get lost in short-term thinking, or the desire to make a big return quickly. But we need to remind them that there are no shortcuts to finding happiness and wisdom in life. As financial planners, we are put into a position to not only offer wise counsel, but actionable plans that can help our clients live truly fulfilling lives.
Life is only worth living if we can live with ourselves.
Anyone who thinks that a wise investment is one that only appreciates in value or creates good returns doesn’t understand the totality of life. There is loads of money to be made in burning down rain forests or selling addictive substances, but most of my clients wouldn’t go near an investment like that.
This makes the term "wise investment" take on a different meaning from the traditional definition.
Doing positive things with our money means knowing what our investments support.
Be Present for Your Clients
Like the stoic who understood the fleeting nature of fortune, we too can help our clients to learn about life, and why making great investments is about more than just financial returns.
It is impossible to become a great financial planner without having a personal connection with our clients. If we want to be better than a commoditised solution, we need to learn more about cultivating personal relationships where trust is put before profit.
The financial planning profession is changing and evolving. And whilst the rise of automated investment solutions gives people ultra-low-cost options, it’s time we demonstrate what true financial planning really is and why we create social value in a way that an algorithm never could.
Amyr Rocha Lima, CFP® is a partner at Holland Hahn & Wills LLP, a financial planning practice based in Kingston upon Thames. He specialises in working with successful professionals age 50+ helping them reduce taxes, invest smarter and retire on their terms.