Goals are the Fuel of Financial Planning

Goals are the Fuel of Financial Planning

Financial advisors, it’s time for a pop quiz. If someone were to ask you to name the fuel that drives the engine of financial planning, what would be your response? If you said ‘goals’, you have answered the first part of the quiz correctly. The second question is one of whose goals you are referring to. Do the client’s goals drive financial planning, or do yours?

At Pasadena-based Western International Securities, there are both employed and independent financial advisors carrying the company banner and advising the dealer-broker’s clients. It is a safe bet that every one of those advisers has a set of questions they ask at the start of every initial consultation. At the top of that list should be the client’s goals.

It is the client’s goals that provide the fuel that drives the financial planning engine. In fact, there would be no need for a financial advisor’s services without goals. So to put those goals anywhere but at the top of the list is to not serve client interests as these should be served.

All Goals Are Legitimate Goals

Let us say a financial advisor sits down with a young couple for their very first consultation. As he or she should, the advisor asks what the couple’s goals are in both the short and long-term. So far, so good. But what the advisor does with those goals in the next few minutes will determine whether a solid and appropriate financial plan can be devised or not.

Here is a list of some of the more common goals advisers would expect from young couples:

  • Paying off Student Loans – With the cost of college continuing to grow, it’s reasonable to expect young couples to want to devote a sizeable portion of their income to paying off student loans. Those loans are budget killers.
  • Buying a Home – Purchasing a home is still a big part of the American dream. It is generally the second goal behind paying off student loans.
  • Saving for College – Young couples stuck with expensive student loans often have a desire to save for their own children so as to help them avoid going through the same thing.

There are other goals young couples traditionally express, but the point is this: each one of their goals is completely valid. Financial advisers have to remember that the money they are talking about investing belongs to the client, not to them. Therefore, whatever goals are important to the client must be respected.

Every goal is a legitimate goal by the mere fact that the money being invested belongs to the client. If a client’s number one goal is to be able to travel the world before turning 50, it is the financial advisor’s responsibility to help him or her figure out a way to do that. It is not the advisor’s responsibility to try to change the client’s goals to bring them more in line with his/her own.

A Will and a Way

When financial advisors allow client goals to be the fuel that drives the financial planning engine, great things happen. You’ve heard the phrase, “where there is a will there is a way.” Well, it turns out that a way can be found to achieve client goals if the will to do so exists. Thus, the goals of the client become the fuel of financial planning.

Investing has changed a lot over the last several decades. One thing has not: the goals of the client always come first. Financial advisors who understand this principle are the ones who most often succeed at creating satisfied and loyal clients.


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