This week I had a delightful catch-up with a long-standing client. He expressed his gratitude for our conversations at key junctions in his life. He remarked that the questions asked helped him to stay the course with the result that he is now comfortably retired. Those are the moments that make my career meaningful. The feedback from the future self of a client about past decisions we helped them make.
It is a key skill in financial planning – helping the current self-recognise the impact of their decisions on their future self. There is always a tension between the needs and wants of the current self with the future self. It’s seldom easy to know what will make the future self happy. It is part of my job to help the client imagine what that will look like; and to then encourage the actions that work towards their future self being in the best possible position – namely, the need for saving now, or not disinvesting now, or insuring against disasters now, or not betting everything on one proverbial horse.
The skill is to help the current self imagine the future self. It frequently requires an uncomfortable conversation that’s not easy to navigate. In most cases, it requires the financial partner to steer the current client towards decisions that may make them unhappy in the short term, so that they will have a happy client in 30 years’ time.
When you’ve been helping clients make decisions for over 25 years, you get to see the outcome of their future selves. It’s deeply meaningful and a source of joy in my life.
My client conversations serve to remind me to keep my eye on the future, especially when helping the younger people who now cross my path and of course with my own money.
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