Having served people as a "financial professional" for roughly 8 years now, I must say I've struggled with the "What am I really helping people do?" question. Make more money? Be greedier? Find a better fund? Retire from wretched work sooner? Sock away more money from Uncle Sam or from year-end Salvation Army appeals? Yes, save money for kid's education. Yes, pay off debt and have money for a rainy day. But truth be told, none of this ever grabbed my heart. Yes, I can get paid to do it, but where's the real meaning beyond the money in that?
And of course, there's the usual, "Well, I am helping them to retire!" Which means what again? What does "retire" really mean for most people?
One client came to me telling me he wanted me to help him retire. "Sure," I told him. "When do you want to retire?" "Friday!" he told me. "Friday?" I laughed. "You're kidding right?" "No. Friday!" "So what are you going to do?" I asked, dumbfounded. "What do you mean? Not work!" he said, as if I should know. "I hate my job and I'm ready to be done! I need you to help me figure out how to fund that."
So, is my job as a "financial professional" really to help people who hate what they do now, be able to leave doing it... to do... well... do nothing really? The tools at my disposal: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, managed accounts, options..... And the financial industry trains up legions of us licensed reps who "sell" and "advise" people to .... well make more money... so they don't have to work! It's called "financial freedom."
Now, of course, there are many high integrity financial advisors out there who really do want to help people and they make an honest living. But, you've got to admit, it seems like the financial industry has lost its soul. There's got to be more to life than helping people have more money to do ... nothing. And sadly, most people don't question the status quo.
So, what can restore the meaning and people part of the financial industry? Here are 5.
1. Helping people discover a vision and dream worth funding first: Instead of starting with the money, what if financial advisors started with helping people clarify a vision and a future worth funding? On purpose.
2. Intentionally uniting financial and life planning. These planners would ask "What do you want out of life?" and they would help people begin to put down the goals and steps toward attaining it. They would help them solve the problems or pull out the snags that get in their way.
3. Making money on purpose: Instead of investing solely on the questions, "How much do you have?" and "How much do you want?" they invest to grow money to fund worthy endeavors attached to visions, values and heart-felt aspirations. My belief: people have a much greater chance of achieving financial goals when clearly attached to things more meaningful to them than "retirement." (which is often more based on saving for a fear-driven rainy day!)
4. Helping redefine retirement: Instead of seeing the retirement phase of life as the opportunity to have money to do nothing, redefine retirement as the chance to do what you've always wanted to do... and possibly even get paid to do. What Mitch Anthony has called "doing something meaningful to you and valuable for others."
5. Helping interpret the confusing clutter of financial information CONSTANTLY streaming our way. There's certainly enough information and mix of opinions to bowl over the most innocent bystander. So, yes, financial professionals can help people who don't major in money management connect to investments and strategies that what would fit their personal needs and aspirations best.
I believe that as information and financial products become even more and more available (even babies trade online!!) the most needed and valuable role becomes those who can help us discover and truly see who we are and where we're headed, www.JeffCaliguire.com
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