Words by Jonathan Holdaway
Just before Christmas I attended a two-day course in London with the Kinder Institute of Life Planning.
It was the start of my journey to become a Registered Life Planner and join one of the 1,500 RLPs in over 30 countries, who are a subset of the global financial planning community.
The next stage is a five-day advanced course followed by a six-month mentorship programme.
It’s a huge investment but one I think will be well worth it, being able to help my clients plan their financial futures properly.
In his book A Golden Civilisation George Kinder writes: “Life Planning is the term for a kind of coaching that financial advisors do that is dedicated to discovering and delivering their clients into their dreams of freedom, regardless of their means.”
When you step into a financial planner’s office, you typically have a specific goal in mind.
You might be looking for the planner to figure out the amount required for retirement, analyse your insurance needs and recommend a suitable product, or invest some money in the most tax efficient way.
If they are really good they might even prepare a comprehensive financial plan for you, filled with solutions to the problems you’ve bought them which, like most people, you will take home and put in a drawer, never to be seen again.
If you work with a life planner you quickly realise that it feels a little different.
In the first few meetings you’ll notice that they do very little talking. Instead of graphs and spreadsheets, you’ll find a space in which you feel comfortable to voice the things you feel are vitally important to you.
It might be the first time anyone has truly heard you, and a Life Planner will listen to your entire story, paying attention to both the technical financial details and your personal goals and priorities.
It’s how we know where your energy and inspiration come from, so we can help you embrace and step into your life.
Life Planning is financial planning with heart.
I’m passionate that my clients achieve their goals and dreams, do not run out of money before they die or die with too much money and unfulfilled aspirations.
It’s not all about the money – it’s also about living long enough to enjoy it. Let me give you an example.
Jim was a bricklayer by trade who got into teaching much later in life. He hadn’t built up much by way of pensions before he started teaching, so was extremely pleased to join the Teacher’s ‘Final Salary scheme’.
“Business-owners are the worst because they are emotionally attached to their business – it’s their ‘baby’ and sometimes they are reluctant to let it go”
It was a very stressful job as he worked at a school for what can only be described as ‘bad boys’ – one step away from prison. But he stuck at it in order to build up his pension entitlement, so he could enjoy his future retirement with his wife. ‘Just one more year’s pension’, he’d say every year.
Jim wasn’t in very good health and was being treated for high blood pressure. Towards the end of his career he was off sick but, fortunately, the school’s employment conditions were very generous – six months at full pay and six months half pay.
He finally retired not long after turning 61 on August 1 1992 – also his wife’s birthday. That day they went on holiday to Devon, looking forward to many such trips during his long and happy retirement. Sadly he had a fatal heart attack two days later, never to enjoy the retirement he had dreamed of for so long.
If only he had spoken to a Life Planner who would have shown him the minimal effect five years’ less pension would have had on his lifestyle. He could have maybe then enjoyed a longer retirement rather than pushing himself to an early grave.
Jim was my father. My mother remained a widow until her own death 23 years later.
This is what excites me about what I do – helping clients realise they can afford to retire and enjoy their retirement without fear of running out if money too soon.
Business-owners are the worst because they are emotionally attached to their business – it’s their ‘baby’ and sometimes they are reluctant to let it go.
By use of sophisticated financial planning software, I am able to give you a snapshot of your current and future financial situations, and also run various ‘what if’ scenarios to stress test it, if the worst should happen.
It’s also a living document which we will update each year to reflect changes in your life and financial situation.
I call myself a ‘Financial Life Planner’ as I can help you plan and achieve the retirement you have dreamed of and keep it on course when life throws you a curved ball.