My journey to become a Financial Life Planner

Category: Uncategorized

What a journey the last few years have been for me and, whilst I may have completed my formal Registered Life Planner® training, it’s a journey that feels very much like it’s only just beginning.

It is perhaps best to first define what a Financial Life Planner is. Now, this isn’t easy to define. To me it’s just financial planning done properly; it’s financial planning that is underpinned by a life planning process which helps to uncover value-driven goals to build a financial plan around.

My colleague and the founder of Serenity Financial Planning, Tina Weeks, recently had this to say when pondering ‘what is Financial Life Planning’, “Financial Life Planning is a term that is new to most people that are not in our world and even to many within it. What I do is not easily articulated, even by me! The best I have come up with is: I help people create a positive relationship with money and help them figure out what is truly important and meaningful to them. I then marry this with their financial data to create a financial plan that inspires them to take action and live their best lives.”

I probably started this journey not long after accepting my first role within the financial advice industry. I was working with an advisory firm as a telephone-based trainee financial adviser. Whilst there was a lot I respect about that organisation and the management I had the pleasure of working with, it predominantly highlighted to me how I didn’t want to be working. I knew that I didn’t want my clients to feel like a number on a screen and I didn’t want to be dispensing financial advice in a form where most of my efforts went into convincing people to put their money in certain investments. What I wanted was to focus my time on building relationships with my clients and putting them and their money first.

With the realisation of what I did want out of being a financial planner I began to look into how other experienced and successful financial planners were delivering great, client centric financial planning. This led to me uncovering the Kinder Institute of Life Planning and, ultimately, Serenity Financial Planning.

I had already completed the initial two-day training course with the Kinder Institute of Life Planning when I joined Serenity. That first bit of training had whetted my appetite for more, I was raring to go and I quickly experienced what I’m sure many of us can attest to, that learning by witnessing first had and then doing myself was leagues more effective than classroom based learning. I found myself in an enviable position of shadowing Tina, attending the large majority of her client meetings and watching her, a Master of Life Planning, in action. As time progressed, I started to take more of a hands-on role in the client relationships under Tina’s supervision and was able to put into practice a lot of what I learned from her.

One big paradigm shift for me with regards to how I work now as a Financial Life Planner compared to how I was working as a financial planner before joining Serenity is that I now spend a lot more time listening to my clients and a lot less time telling them things. By asking simple but powerful open questions, allowing the client space to answer and then listening attentively and with compassion has enabled me to build deeper relationships with my clients in the space of a few hours than I was previously able to do over months of contact.

I can honestly say that by putting life planning and coaching at the forefront of what I do as a financial planner I am more content and happy with the job I do and the difference I make to people’s lives than I ever have been before and I look forward to continuing my journey as a Financial Life Planner.

– Tom Desborough

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