I’d like to share the revolutionary idea that as a financial adviser, it’s not your job to know what your client should do with their money. I’d like to challenge that when you next speak with a client, you pretend that you don’t know what your client should do with their money.
I suspect that you’ll find it hard to do; that it will take an enormous amount of effort to hold back your thoughts and that to be so brave as to share openly with your client that you have no idea what the answer to their financial question is, will be very difficult.
Why do I think this? Because as financial professionals we’ve been trained to believe that it’s our responsibility to have all the answers to our client’s financial questions. We’ve been indoctrinated to believe that we need to be experts, quickly and easily able to diagnose problems and provide solutions thereby sparing our clients the pain of financial hardship.
I don’t believe this is helpful for our clients. I don’t believe that your professionalism is determined by your knowledge and ability to problem-solve a solution to your client’s problems. You’re not the expert of their life, they are.
I believe it’s your job to be an expert in not knowing. I believe it’s your responsibility to communicate this to your client making it quite clear that although you don’t have the answer to their challenge yourself, you can help them find it.
I believe that your role should be to partner with your client as a curious investigator on an adventure to explore possibility together.
Approaching your client relationships from this perspective creates a foundation of trust and collaboration. From this place you give your client the opportunity to take ownership of their thinking, feeling and behaviour concerning their money and life. The result is an empowered client who willingly takes the action required to turn possibility for their lives into reality combined with a sense of satisfaction concerning the route (and relationship with you) that got them there.
First published in the FPI 2020 Convention e-Magazine in October 2020.
Mary J is a Millennial Change-Maker and founder of a Lifestyle Financial Planning & Financial Coaching company called My Journey 2 Freedom. She is also co-founder of The Coach Education Academy in the roles of Coach Education Director, Facilitator and Mentor Coach.
She has two Higher Certificates in Financial Planning from Milpark Business School and is a Registered Financial Practitioner (RFP™) with the Financial Planning Institute South Africa (FPI).
She also has a Leadership & Professional Coach qualification from Star Leadership and is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).