Some financial planners create plans for the sake of creating a pretty plan. That seems desirable in that they are probably complete, internally consistent and up to professional standards. Some work and some don’t.
Here is a thought from Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams, the physician portrayed by Robin Williams in the 1998 movie of the same name.
“You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.”
Financial planning is not about building financial plans. It is about helping people satisfy their needs for security, growth and preferred lifestyle. Treat the person not the problem.
Financial plans are a tool that allows communication and insight into complicated problems and opportunities. Tool centric plans fail because the circumstances are never narrow enough to exactly fit. Like the old idea that if your only tool is a hammer, every problem will appear to be a nail.
Tools help because they magnify strengths. No one should want a tool for its own sake.
If you over-focus on a plan you will lose track of objectives, resources and progress. “We are hopelessly lost but making good time.”
Focus on the people and their objectives. That never fails.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.